Book Review: 2 Years to a Million in Real Estate
I just finished reading the book 2 Years to a Million in Real Estate (aff.) by Mathew A. Martinez. Mr. Martinez is a full time real estate investor who tells the story of how he left his comfortable executive level job to become a full-time real estate entrepreneur in just two short years. The reader or would-be reader should keep in mind that this book was published before the real estate bubble burst and seems to be heavily weighted to a New England style of real estate investing.
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The book is fairly technical and reads much like a text book. The information seemed solid; I didn’t see anything in the book that I would dispute. I like the fact that he is realistic about the nature of the business. He doesn’t sugar coat it. He makes it clear that real estate takes work, and is not offering another get rich lazy speech.
Within the first two chapters Mr. Martinez states:
“I feel the need to advise new investors that, once you own a certain number of units, you’ll start to feel the pressure of both managing your portfolio of properties and working your day job. I was able to manage both for several years. Everyone has a limit to the aggravation and stress he can endure….”
“… You must not count on appreciation for future gains. Appreciation is an ancillary benefit of ownership, whereas a positive cash flow is a prerequisite.”
I think these are two points that new investors should keep clearly in mind, especially all of you “no money down” investors. Make sure you closely consider cash flow in your buying criteria because if you plan to buy numerous properties, at some point it is going to become a lot of work. You need the cash flow to be enough to justify that work, especially if it becomes so much work that it interferes with your day job.
Another aspect of this book that I really liked is that Mr. Martinez shares actual resources with the reader. There are numerous references in the book to real and active websites, organizations, and agencies where investors can go for help, tools, or for further information. That is very handy information in this business. Many real estate books talk in generalities; this book is very specific and factual.
In the property management section, Mr. Martinez shares some very good ideas for things that landlords should certainly add to every lease. I’ve been a landlord for 10 years and I never thought of some of this stuff. I now have some good nuggets to add to my next lease.
The scariest aspect of investing is the unknown. With knowledge and constant self education, a real estate investor will find that there is almost nothing that can’t be handled fairly easy. I think that end is one of Mr. Martinez’s major goals in this book. He even has a section about legal issues. For example, every investor needs to know the process for eviction. You drastically reduce your risk of actually having to evict, and you certainly reduce your anxiety if you are confident that you know and are following the laws and remain within your rights as a landlord.
However, I think the legal section in this book is more flavored by the New England laws. I think investors in other regions of the country would be better served by going to FindLaw and looking up the landlord tenant laws of their state, or by paying a local lawyer a counseling fee to share with you your state’s eviction process.
On the other hand . . .
Don’t read this book if you think it is going to give you the secrets to being a millionaire in two years. Mr. Martinez did apparently build a million dollars in equity within two years; however, he bought his first property in the year 2000. He explains how within a year the he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in appreciation in that first property. At that point he simply refinanced the property, pulled out his equity at a time where 100% cash out refinances or second mortgages were no problem and then used that equity to buy another property. He repeated that process numerous times to build his portfolio. I don’t think that is very likely for investors right now. But, he makes two very good points in the book: don’t count on appreciation and don’t squander your equity.
This book was informative and factual. However, don’t look to be inspired. This is a pretty dry read. And, don’t expect to receive a road map on how to become a millionaire real estate investor in just two years. There is a good solid plan for wealth in this book, but given the present market conditions, it will take you much more time to accumulate wealth with this simple buy and hold strategy.
I will say that this book is a good reality check; a good antidote to the get rich quick, get rich lazy real estate guru.