Making Money from Property: Bristol Fashion, Del Brown

Your Property Network: Book Review August 2014

Making Money from Property: Bristol FashionI found this book last year after the interview with Del for the “Monster Lets” article in July 2013. I had been inspired by what he had to say during the interview, his approach to business and property and by his story. Whether this is an unassuming approach that is typical of him or not, I don’t know, but he never mentioned the book – I found it purely by chance when looking for something else.

You might have heard of comedian Rob Brydon’s title “Small Man in a Book”. This, in my view, is a Big Man in a Small Book – and that is intended as a respectful comment to both Del and the book. Less than 100 pages, it is such an easy read that you can devour it in a couple of hours. The writing style is engaging and informal, and Del’s commentary ranges from experienced, knowledgeable businessman to self-deprecating humour.

Who Is It For?

Before going any further, the readers who will get most from this book are those who are new to property investing. In Part 2, How to Build Property Profits from Scratch you will find introductions to the basic and most common strategies together with an overview of how to make money from rentals and from buy-to-sell (BTS) or flipping.

The title contains a hint: Del lives and operates in and around Bristol. However, the contents of the book are useful beyond this neighbourhood as the principles of sound investing are true regardless of location. Yes, there will be market variations for strategies that work or don’t work in a particular area, but the basic tenets of how to make money from property are true everywhere: more money in than out.

The book has quite a few insightful nuggets, and something I thought particularly useful is a section on What Type of Investor Are You? Taking into account that the book targets the more novice investor, this section encourages you to consider where you are in your journey, and how you want to invest – do you want to be active, passive, work with others? In other words, think it all through first.

Part 4, The Business of Property offers advice on what is important when selling your BTS properties, as well as considering some of the ways that you can add value. The focus in this section is property, but Del also goes on to talk about some of the elements that are important in business in general, a reminder that once you have acquired your first property, regardless of whether it is a flip or a rental, then you have a business. He applies both theory and experience, explaining where the basics of business are relevant to property. I wonder sometimes whether, because we refer to what we do as property investing, we forget that we still need to apply normal or standard business theories and skills. Diversification, time management, delegation, marketing, communication skills – they are all mentioned here.

An Eclectic Mix

All in all, this is an eclectic mix of things that you need to consider when you start out, or when you have experience of one or two properties deals, with a few case studies thrown in. Del prompts you to think about where you are going with your property activities in the longer term, whether you will transition into a full-time business, and if so, the rudiments of what you need to work on to achieve that.

In truth, there is probably little here for more experienced investors, although I strongly believe that there is something to learn in every book. I loved reading about Del’s background and what led him to become the person and property businessman he is today. That in itself is inspiring. Given the subject of my contribution to Lessons Learned this month, I was delighted to read his comments on getting inspiration from Mohammed Ali:

You can’t box and expect to come away unscathed. It is similar in business. If you are in business you are going to make mistakes and lose some money. The trick is to get up and get back at them before you get knocked down for good!

For that paragraph, I offer wholehearted thanks as it encouraged me to keep going with the article and set aside my own fears of opening up; it reminded me that I am not and never will be alone in making mistakes.

The final section, Part 5, Finding Inspiration is an in-a-nutshell overview of mindset where Del offers his perspective for getting your head in the right place. His definition of SMART goals differs from the one I am more familiar with, but this could arguably be better for the property context.

I don’t know whether this book was intended for the reading public, for education or as a marketing tool. Whatever the reason for its existence, I wonder if he could be persuaded to write more in the future?

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