Your Property Network: May 2013
The title of this book is reminiscent of Robert Kiyosaki’s Retire Young Retire Rich. Coincidental or not, it is relevant as Retire Early Retire Wealthy is about taking control of your financial affairs for the future as much as it is about property investing. Even more pertinent, published just last month, it is bang up to date and talks in British, not American, English: therefore easy to understand and applies 100% to investing in the UK.
Roly’s premise is, as the subtitle suggests, to aim for financial independence or freedom by means of investing in property. This is not a Get Rich Quick tome: it is about assessing where you are, planning for the future, then getting on with the plan – in this case investing in property – in a methodical manner.
What leapt out at me throughout the entire book was a sense of organisation. Roly comes across as an exceptionally organised person with a system and a file for everything. There is a whole section, not just a chapter, dedicated to “Roly’s Property Management System”. Not the tidiest or most organised of people myself, I devoured this avidly. After reading about filing systems I now know what ours should look like. (The Other Half does our property filing and is an advocate of the box-file system – chuck it in then dig around when you need it. He thinks he knows where everything is …)
When it comes to systemisation, there is probably something that everyone can learn here – unless you are already as organised as Roly.
Who Is It For?
In the main though, this book is for beginners and people who have just started out in property. In fact, everyone over the age of 30 who has not given much thought to funding their retirement years should read it. It is the one to read right after Robert Kiyosaki’s much-loved Rich Dad Poor Dad. It is a book for property investors to give to people who ask what they do and why they do it.
What is particularly useful for people new to investing is the research, mostly covered in “Why invest in the UK property market – what it can do for you”. There are good solid reasons here, including sections on demand, cash flow, value comparisons with the share index and leverage; the chapter forms a sound introduction to the property investing fundamentals that follow.
Arguably the greatest value of this book is the focus on retirement. Roly urges us to do some thinking and calculating on our pension projections – what we can expect from government, employers’, or private plan pension schemes. Will it be enough to fund our lifestyle? How long do we want to work? Or rather, how soon do we want to gain our freedom? To this end, I am almost inclined to encourage people to read “Chapter 9: Why start taking action today” first.
Some of the statistics make for grim reading, and I applaud Roly for being one of the first to address the forthcoming miserable pension situation in book form. The world has changed in the last ten years and the level of pensions enjoyed by our parents and grandparents will be unlikely if we leave it to outside forces. Here is the clarion call: take your financial matters and your financial future into your own hands, make your own plans.
Getting Serious about Property
Having introduced the subject and reasons why to invest in the first section, the book gets serious about property in Part 2 where he addresses the fundamentals. Top Tips, scattered throughout the book, become more useful; there are excellent practical breakdowns for purchase, cash flow and refinancing in “Investing in property – helping you create your life”; and a down-to-earth, straightforward look at purchase and rental strategies in “Buying the right property in the right location at the right price”.
You will not find property sourcing discussed in this book. Instead Roly suggests working with others and becoming an armchair investor to start out. There is no right or wrong way, and many established investors would suggest differently. I question perhaps whether the term “armchair investor” is totally appropriate for property investing, as however much is outsourced, there are a lot of responsibilities when we become landlords, the buck unquestionably and unmercifully stopping with us. What he does recommend though, and I heartily support this, is good training, a strong team of experts and a mentor or two to guide you through the property maze.
Powerful stuff for beginners, there is enough here to get you started, and to know what questions to ask others, whether that be the author or other reputable organisations.
It is perhaps a book of its time though and some of the research may date as the years go on. That said, the principles and reasons for investing in property are unlikely to change.
If you have any doubt, concern or ambivalence towards your pension situation, read this book. If you want to know about the fundamentals and systems needed for renting out property, put it on your reading list. If you are already a successful investor, keep a copy nearby to give to potential joint venture partners or folks who say they wish they could do what you do.