Property Investment: The Essential Rules, Samantha Collett

Property Tribes: Book of the Month August 2014

Property Investment: The Essential Rules by Samantha CollettProperty Tribes Book of the Month, August 2014This is Samantha Collett’s second book this year and the title says it all. This is about property investment and is an essential read for anyone who is new to investing, or even just thinking about it at the moment.

Her previous book, How to Buy Property at Auction, targets a very broad market as it is equally applicable to homebuyers considering buying at auction as it is to investors. This time, Sam has honed her focus to the investment market, pointing out things that we might easily overlook in our eagerness to start buying, and the things that could go wrong as well as including the how-to’s of investing in property. It contains a combination of valuable insights, common sense and also a lot of the bleedin’ obvious which can be so obvious that we are in danger of overlooking it.

The book is divided into four sections, each representing a set of Rules: Personal, Property, Business and Customer. She encourages you to look at your investment plans from different angles, and there is a strong focus on every property you buy being a business in its own right. Ignore the business principles at your peril.

Sam is a prolific writer as well as investor, and I hope she will have lots more to say in  print in the future. In the meantime, keep up to date by following her award-winning blog What Sam Saw Today.

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As well as Property Tribes’ book of the month for August 2014, the book is also reviewed in the October 2014 edition of Your Property Network magazine …

I have said it before and am delighted to say it again: Sam Collett is a cracking writer. On top of that, her experience and knowledge of property as an investment is second to none, too.

Property Investment: The Essential Rules is her second title this year. On top of writing her award-winning blog, that’s prolific author output whichever way you look at it. If you have read her first book, How To Buy Property at Auction: The Essential Guide to Winning Property and Buy-to-Let Bargains, you can expect the same engaging style and common sense approach.

The great thing about this book is that it is divided into bite-sized pieces. There are four categories of rules: Personal Rules, Property Rules, Business Rules and Customer Rules. The titles of these categories should give you an idea of the approach – property, and that goes for each investment property you own, is a business. It is not a standalone activity that we can pick up and put down like a hobby, but one that demands developing ourselves personally in preparation for running a business and dealing with our customers; the customers in question here being our tenants.

Back to the breakdown: each category contains several short chapters which are in fact ‘the rules’. Most consist of a couple of pages, one or two slightly longer. There are 100 rules, some having giggle-worthy titles like “Rule 13: Grow a pair …” and “Rule 28: You have to kiss a lot of frogs”, while more than a few are sensible notes of advice in themselves, for example, “Rule 9: Learn to live on less and invest the rest”, “Rule 42: Check demand before you buy” and “Rule 61: Run the numbers before you invest”. And I think most of us will have already discovered Rule 97 – “Sh*t happens”.

Who Is It For?

The main target market is probably people who have little in the way of experience in property investment, or who are thinking of starting out on the journey. For those people, I would say this is (pardon the pun) essential reading.

There is more to it than that though and even hoary old investors might pick up a thing or two. While reading, I alternately raised my eyebrows (“Ooh, that’s a good idea!”) or squirmed in my chair (“Er, I really should be doing that …”). In Part One: Personal Rules, there are reminders of the bleeding obvious – for example, that you do, actually, need money; property investing is not particularly passive; and there is risk involved. More than that, there are some solid warnings. One of these is to keep going when you experience problems or make mistakes, something that particularly resonated as I have in the past moaned vociferously when something hasn’t worked first time, then immediately gone on to something else only to repeat the process, while others have broken through the pain barrier and come out laughing on the other side. Another is that the property dream industry is not the same as the property investment industry. If you are new to investing, buy the book for this chapter alone (Rule 15).

Even the practical sections can lead to little insights. I have prided myself in the past about not getting emotionally involved with investment properties – for the most part – but reading about the viability of refurbishments, I realised that while I do not get emotional about the investment, I do tend to get a bit starry-eyed and attached to the potential of a project. Ouch! This is a book that makes you think as well as give you information, and reading it carefully might help you make improvements in what you already do, and consequently become more successful.

Down to Business

Many investors have developed their investments into a business. For some that might be, for example, creating a lettings agency or sourcing; others grow their portfolios to the point where they warrant full time management. While the last two sections – Business and Customer Rules – might be the equivalent of teaching their grandmothers to suck eggs for these people, there are thousands of investors and landlords who continue to invest in property as a sideline. The message here is unequivocal – each property is a business, so treat it as such.

As implied earlier, there could well be something for everyone in this book. Sam has a way of cutting to the chase and when talking about investment, she tells it like it is, warts and all – no fluff, no illusions, no dream-peddling. That’s not to say that it’s all negative; there is plenty of encouragement and discussion of the benefits of getting started on the journey and staying the course. Just make sure you have a copy of The Essential Rules in your handbag, toolbox or somewhere in the car. You’ll need it at some point.


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