10 Absolute Must-Read Real Estate Books for Beginning Investors

by | BiggerPockets.com

Sixteen years ago at the age of 23, I was a brand new real estate investor. I had just graduated from college with a biology degree, which basically qualified me to tell you the species of tree in the backyard of a house! Beyond that, I had no practical real estate investing skills.

In fact, I had never even owned my own home before attempting to buy my first investment property. So, if you think you know nothing about real estate as a beginner, try that!

Looking back, it was sort of a crazy move. But I wanted freedom more than I wanted the security and comfort of a steady job. I also knew that any skill—including real estate investing—could be learned if you just know where to look.

As a result, self-education became my top priority. Some of this early self-education was great. But much of it was a waste of time. And the bad education actually slowed my progress.

So, the purpose of this article is to give the best, most focused self-education books for beginners. After 16 years in the trenches of real estate investing, what follows are the 10 books that I recommend to get you started.

But before we get into the actual books, I first want to explain why you should read books – even in the internet age.

How to Purchase Real Estate With No (or Low) Money!

One of the biggest struggles that many new investors have is in coming up with the money to purchase their first real estate properties. Well, BiggerPockets can help with that too. The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down can give you the tools you need to get started in real estate, even if you don’t have tons of cash lying around.

Click Here to Download

Why You Should Read Books

Everything is free on the internet these days, right? So why read books?

I like books because they are a way to focus your education without distraction. Reading a book is a much different educational experience than the constant beeping, pop-ups, and eye-candy you’ll be distracted with while on your mobile device or computer.

Related: 5 Powerful Books That Changed the Direction of My Life

I still love physically holding a book, circling and underlining big ideas with my pen and then making notes in the margins (although I’ve also started doing this with e-books on my tablet).

I also love the “conversation” you have with an author of a book. It’s like they’re your personal teacher. When I notice a physical book on my bookshelf, it brings back ideas and reminds me of the tips that author gave me in the past.

So, if you’re on board with using books as a key part of your education, consider digging into the following top 10 list.

1. Building Wealth One House at a Time by John Schaub

Topics Covered

  • General principles and strategies
  • Financing
  • Deal analysis (the basics)
  • Finding and negotiating deals
  • Property management (the basics)
  • Legal and contracts (the basics for leases, options, and purchase contracts)

What I Like About This Book

John Schaub was one of the original teachers I learned from, both with his book and with other sources, like his newsletter and in-person classes. I consider John the Warren Buffett of real estate investing. His advice is down to earth, solid, and it’s worked for over four decades in his business as a landlord, house flipper, and lender.

I often hear people complain that some investing books can be too basic. I find those same people often ignore fundamentals while searching for glitzy, more complicated concepts that supposedly are better.

This book is all about the fundamentals. He covers an overall strategy for achieving financial independence with residential real estate, and he also gets into finding, financing, renting, and selling properties.

The main idea of the book is that you can build a fortune and do everything you want in life by investing in little real estate deals like single family houses and small multi-units. I have taken this advice to heart, and I agree wholeheartedly with it.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • Buying one house at a time can make you wealthy
  • Houses are your best investment
  • The right houses attract long-term tenants
  • Buy houses without borrowing from banks
  • Sell houses using lease options for maximum profit
  • A plan to get properties free and clear of debt


John spends some time talking about appreciation of real estate and how it can make you rich. I would be careful depending upon appreciation as part of your real estate evaluation. Appreciation is uncertain and difficult to predict or depend upon.

A more conservative plan is to make enough money using other methods John talks about, like cash flow and amortization of loans. Appreciation may come, but your deal should work without it.

2. What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow by Frank Gallinelli

Topics Covered

  • General principles and strategies
  • Financing
  • Deal analysis (the basics)

What I Like About This Book

This book is all about the numbers, which is perfect for a real estate nerd like me. Success in real estate always comes back to the numbers. But amazingly, many so-called investors don’t know how to do them correctly.

This book is a guide to both the big picture concepts of deal analysis and the nitty gritty formulas. It covers in great detail, along with examples, just about every analysis tool I can think of. Beginners can use it to learn, and any investor of any experience level should keep it on their bookshelf as a reference and refresher.  

I also like that he includes free Excel spreadsheets that let you get “under the hood” and see how the formulas in the book actually work.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • The four ways to make money in real estate
  • Become a financial detective before you buy (uncover the REAL data)
  • Use math, not emotion, to make financial decisions
  • 37 calculations every real estate investor needs to know
  • Multiple methods to calculate return on a real estate investment


The strength of this book is the thoroughness of the content. That is also its weakness. I think the challenge will be, especially for beginners, not to get overwhelmed or intimidated by so many formulas and ways to analyze a deal.

Getting started successfully as an entrepreneur (real estate is a business, after all) is about math, but it’s also about psychology, momentum, and consistency. Fear of failure or analysis paralysis can kill your dream as a beginner investor.

So, my recommendation is to pick the gold nuggets from this book and learn the essential, basic formulas. Go get in motion, make offers on deals, and continue coming back to this excellent resource over time as you grow.

3. The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner

Topics Covered

  • General principles and strategies
  • Financing
  • Deal analysis
  • Finding and negotiating deals
  • Property management

What I Like About This Book

This book is #1 in Amazon’s real estate section pretty much all the time for a reason. Author Brandon Turner wrote a super-practical, step-by-step book that can help any rental property investor.

Brandon is an amazing teacher. He has a knack for breaking the big topics into digestible, easy-to-understand pieces. And that’s really the strength of the book. It flows from the big picture to the nitty gritty in the entire process of finding, negotiating, financing, closing, and renting your next rental property.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • Reasons why so many rental property owners fail
  • Run your rentals like a business, not a hobby
  • 4 sample rental wealth building plans
  • How to find the right rental property location
  • How to find rental properties
  • How to get a rental property loan approved (guaranteed)
  • If you are unhappy, your system is broken


This book is more focused on small, mom-and-pop style investors. If you want to buy 1,000s of units, do syndications, and build a huge real estate empire, this book probably isn’t for you. And although this book does touch on property management, it could use more depth and details. But the partner book The Book on Managing Rental Properties by Brandon and his wife Heather Turner fill many of those gaps nicely.

Related: Newbies: These 3 Simple Steps Will Prepare You For Your First Deal

4. The Book on Investing in Real Estate With No (and Low) Money Down by Brandon Turner

Topics Covered

  • Financing
  • Deal analysis
  • Legal and contracts (just the basics of notes, mortgages, and leases)

What I Like About This Book

This is another book by Brandon Turner. The title includes “no money down,” which might understandably be a turn-off. But realize that the book is not about getting rich quickly with tricks or getting something for nothing. The book simply gives you a full toolbox of non-traditional financing techniques that you can use to buy real estate.

I like that Brandon practices what he preaches. As someone who has also used many of these financing techniques, I can tell that Brandon has used the tools himself to create his portfolio of real estate.

Related: The Practical, 3-Step Way to Get Started in Real Estate With No Money

If you want to (or if you can) use conventional real estate strategies like going to the bank, putting 30 percent down, and getting a conventional loan, that’s fine. But do yourself a favor and also learn how to make money using the unconventional techniques in this book. Once you do, the rest of this real estate game will be a lot easier.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • Begin investing with owner-occupied properties
  • Creative strategies = tools in a toolbox
  • The “elevator pitch” for private lenders
  • A laundry list of creative financing techniques and strategies with explanations


Brandon admits as much, but this book is only the beginning of your study of financing techniques. To actually execute them will require local help with the legal and contract part of the techniques. But the knowledge of how and why are the important foundations you’ll get in this book.

5. The Book on Flipping Houses by J Scott

Topics Covered

  • General principles and strategies
  • Financing
  • Deal analysis (for flips)
  • Finding and negotiating deals
  • Systems and processes for flip business (EXCELLENT!)

What I Like About This Book

I like the way the author J Scott’s mind works. He is systematic, he is thorough, and he gets both the big picture AND the details. That’s rare!

As a result, what you get in this book is a comprehensive guide to the flipping business. You won’t have to search around in other places to get the all the parts he left out (except his other book on estimating rehabs, which is the next book I recommend).

In addition to content you’d expect on a book about flipping, I like that J gets into the nuances of analyzing and choosing a target market. This is such a fundamental step that many novices miss. J gives you some really good insight that you can use to analyze the potential in your own market for flips or to analyze future markets you may venture into. I used J’s methods in my own market and was amazed what I found out (after 10 years already investing there!).

Big Ideas From the Book

  • Get your financing in order first
  • Find and analyze a farm area (or areas) for your flip business
  • Distressed properties: what, why, and how
  • List of sources of good deals
  • The 100-house rule
  • Project scope of work and schedule (I use J’s tools on this weekly)
  • Staging houses to sell: what, why, and how


This is a great book. There’s not a lot I could find wrong, other than to point out that different markets have different styles of flipping based upon the housing stock. A lot of the backdrop for this book was J’s investment business in suburban Atlanta, with its 1980s, mini-mansion style houses. A lot of the examples were based upon that model. The same principles can obviously be applied to in-town rehab of older homes and even to in-fill new construction projects. Check out J’s free ebook on BiggerPockets.com to see how he’s applied the principles in this book to the new construction niche.

*UPDATE*: J Scott has written updated versions of the book that will be published in early 2019. I highly recommend you get the latest edition as they address some of the concerns I had above.

6. The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs by J Scott

Topics Covered

  • Rehab and construction estimating

What I Like About This Book

Just like his companion book on flipping houses, this book is systematic and thorough. It flows well, it all fits together, and you can take the concepts and apply them successfully right away.

I had a pretty good system of analysis before I read his book, but I liked the way J Scott sectioned the rehab of the house into 25 components. So, I bought the full BiggerPockets package which gave me a checklist/spreadsheet with all of those components. These bonus items make the estimating of the total cost much more accurate. I use it just about every week.

Related: The Simple Step-by-Step Guide For Rehabbing Your First Rental

Missing just one or two repairs can make a big difference in your flipping or rental profits over time, so using a system like J’s is critical. Why reinvent the wheel? J wrote the book. Just copy him!

Big Ideas From the Book

  • The 25 renovation components
  • A list of factors that impact rehab costs
  • How to pay contractors for a job


Like my comment in J’s other book, just keep in mind his examples are from single family houses in a suburban setting. The principles still work in other settings, like multifamilies in urban areas, but you may need to make some tweaks here and there.

7. Every Landlord’s Legal Guide by Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner, & Janet Portman

Topics Covered

  • Property management
  • Legal and contracts

What I Like About This Book

This book is a detailed reference manual specifically for all the legal issues landlords face. It is one of the newer additions to my library out of the 10 recommendations, but I wish I had it from the beginning.

I like that the book is extremely comprehensive. It covers all of the normal sticky landlord legal issues like rejecting applicants, handling security deposits, and evicting tenants. But it also addresses other issues like potential liability for your property manager’s acts and how to handle subletting requests.

I also like that the book has a downloadable library of forms. I don’t necessarily use all of them, but I take ideas from each as I’m having my own checklists, leases, and other contracts created.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • Lease terminations and evictions: what, why, and how
  • How to hire a lawyer and do legal research
  • How to solve disputes without a lawyer
  • Returning security deposits and other move-out issues
  • Potential landlord liability: the potential sources (like tenant injuries, health hazards, criminal activity, etc.) and how to address them
  • Delegating (legally) responsibilities to tenants
  • State-by-state landlord-tenant law charts (to highlight similarities and differences)


I basically look at this book as my cheat-sheet or place to start for any legal questions about rental contracts, evictions, changing a lease, or other issues that may come up. It does not replace a good attorney on your team. But a resource like this is very helpful even when you hire an attorney because I’ve found that you must have some basic knowledge before you can even ask the right questions to an attorney or another expert. So this book helps with that.

8. Landlording on Autopilot by Mike Butler

Topics Covered

  • General principles and strategies
  • Property management
  • Legal and contracts

What I Like About This Book

The author Mike Butler is a funny guy, and he also provides a lot of great property and business management ideas and systems in this book. There are many different approaches to property management, and Mike has one particular style. His strategy is geared more towards single family houses and hands-off self-management.

You may not choose to adopt every single method he suggests, but I think it’s one of the best books for its mix of practical, nitty-gritty details of management systems, funny and eye-popping stories, and also general big-picture strategy for investing success.

*UPDATE*: I read Mike’s original book, but he has a new 2018 edition that I have not read. The new edition also seems helpful. It includes a lot of new landlord and tenant-friendly technologies that make the rental experience easier and more hands-off for everyone.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • Virtual offices and management systems (like online payment, answering services, websites, etc.)
  • The “rent talk”: a thorough, step-by-step meeting to train tenant before signing lease
  • Treat tenants like “employees” (because they have a job to do)
  • All-star program incentives to encourage tenants to stay longer
  • New tenant welcome package and goody bag
  • Tenant move-out checklist and package
  • Key and lock system
  • List of fees for items broken or not done when tenant moves out
  • Landlord toolbox: a list of everything you need to run landlording business


I was a bit skeptical after reading chapter one because Mike began with the idea of using “conservative” 5 percent appreciation rates in his town to build a large net worth. Perhaps Mike did experience 5 percent appreciation every year on his properties, but on a national scale, house appreciation tends to be the same as inflation (about 3 percent over the long run).

Be very careful counting on any specific appreciation rates as part of your wealth building plan. Doing this can be dangerous because it takes your focus away from the investment fundamentals you can control, like cash flow and loan amortization. Appreciation for me is a bonus that I’ll happily profit from when it comes, but I don’t calculate it up front. To Mike’s credit, he did follow in the rest of the book talking mostly about cash flow, tax benefits, and great management systems.

9. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller, Dave Jenks, & Jay Papasan

Topics Covered

  • General principles and strategies
  • Deal analysis
  • Finding and negotiating deals

What I Like About This Book

This might be my favorite real estate investing book. Author Gary Keller, the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty, captures the essence of a successful real estate investor. Using the concept of models, he breaks down every aspect of the real estate investing business and shares best practices. This approach makes it very easy to replicate in your own business.

I have read complaints that this book doesn’t get enough into the nitty gritty (like how to manage a property, remodel a property, etc.). But I think that misses the point. This book nails both the mindset and the strategy of how you build a successful real estate investing business. When you get those right, you can then learn all of those details as a next step.

I also like that this book shares profiles of many real-life real estate investors. These examples show that it’s possible to become a millionaire in a variety of ways. One of the millionaires (Dyches Boddiford) has been a go-to mentor and teacher in my own real estate investing business.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • The 5 models of a millionaire real estate investor
  • Criteria, Terms, Network (CTN)—The Dynamic Trio of Investing
  • Millionaire habit—prioritize and track your net worth
  • The path to a millionaire
  • The sweet spot of a real estate market
  • Think big with your why, goals, models, and habits


As good as this book is, it was published in 2005 before the 2007-2009 real estate crash. I don’t think any of the core principles in the book would change. But I’d love to see the authors add new millionaire profiles and update the old ones so that we can get more recent examples.

10. Retire Early With Real Estate by Chad Carson

Topics Covered

  • General principles and strategies
  • Financing
  • Financial independence & early retirement
  • Post retirement strategies

What I Like About This Book

OK, I’m clearly biased in this choice. But having put my heart and soul into writing this book, I certainly recommend it as a top choice for beginner investors.

I wrote this book to be a strategy guide. It’s basically like a map that helps you find yourself on the journey to the mountain peak of financial independence. The book helps you find the best “route” or real estate strategy that fits your situation. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, I give you examples of a few of the best strategies and help you take action on one.

The feedback from reviews on Amazon tells me that the best parts of the book are it’s practical, step-by-step approach. You get clear instructions that are easy to apply. And between each chapter you’ll read one of 25 real estate early retiree profiles with details and actual numbers that explain how they did it.

Big Ideas From the Book

  • The Money-Life Manifesto—Do What Matters
  • Why massive real estate empires aren’t always better
  • The peak and plateaus of early retirement
  • Your financial independence number
  • Beginner vs primary real estate strategies
  • How to build an income floor plus invest for the upside
  • Early retirement back-up plans
  • The 5-step real estate early retirement plan


When I wrote this book I actually cut out over 40,000 words from the rough draft! I had lessons on finding deals, evaluating deals, and more. But I decided that too much information distracted from the main point, which is how to use real estate to retire early.

So, this isn’t the only real estate book you should buy. But it can serve as your primary guide, and you can fill in the gaps with the nine other amazing books on this list!

What Are You Reading?

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time—none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren [Buffet] reads—and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”

What you choose to read and put into your mind is an important choice. I hope this list has helped you to focus on a small group of real estate books that have been very helpful to me.

Editor’s note: We first published this list back in 2015. Chad revised it at the end of 2018 to reflect some of his new favorite reads. Enjoy—and be sure to add suggestions in the comments below!

What do you think about these choices? Are there others that you would include? What are you reading now in the real estate and business world that has been helpful?

I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

About Author

Chad Carson

Chad Carson is an entrepreneur, writer, and teacher who used real estate investing to reach financial independence before the age of 37. He wrote an Amazon best-selling book Retire Early With Real Estate, and his story has been a featured on Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, GetRichSlowly.com, the BiggerPockets Podcast, How to Money, ChooseFI, and more. Chad and his business partner currently focus on long-term rental properties and private lending in and around the college town of Clemson, South Carolina. Their portfolio of 90+ units includes houses, small multi-unit apartments, and mobile homes. In 2003, Chad and his business partner began real estate investing from scratch. They started by wholesaling and fixing-and-flipping properties. They also learned to rely on non-conventional financing sources like private lending, seller financing, and lease options, which remains their expertise today. After surviving the 2007-2009 real estate downturn (with scars to prove it!), they transitioned to more of a focus on student rentals. You can find more of Chad's writing (as well as podcast episodes) at coachcarson.com.


  1. Brandon Turner

    Hey Chad, thanks so much for including me in this amazing list! Seriously, I really appreciate it! And every other book on this list is incredible, I’ve read them all, some multiple times. It’s an honor to be among them! And I couldn’t agree more on your views about reading. SO much of what I have today is because of the books i’ve read.

    • Chad Carson

      No problem. Brandon. You earned it. Well researched and well written.

      Everyone I know who has succeeded in this business or others reads all the time. It is a very strong correlation. It reminds me of the quote:

      “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.”

      Here’s to more reading (and then more doing something with what we read)!

    • Chad Carson

      Actually, Brandon didn’t read the post or know about it before being published. This is a BIG site, and Mr. Turner has a lot of other important things to do:) he was on the list because he simply wrote a great book.

    • Richard Brain

      It’s a personal matter of trust. For those that may choose to think as you have noted, in my opinion, they have not been around the site long enough to discover the vast resources contained herein to make a genuinely informed decision.

      For those that have embraced this site for the wealth of mostly free information that it is and services that it provides, they will quickly discover that Brandon Turner is the real deal.

      Furthermore, what careth Brandon over the measly portions that his book sales may bringeth him? The man has amassed a small empire of real estate. He now shares that information to help all others searching for the same opportunity; unselfishly and to the benefit of newcomers in an effort to help all avoid his trials and tribulations.

      In conclusion, I do not believe Brandon is losing any sleep over such perspective points of view but, in fact, in my humble opinion, now that it has been brought to his attention, he may feel a sense of confusion as to why anyone would think that way.

      I have never met Brandon. He’s a big boy and can defend himself. I am sharing my perspective. Watch the webinars. Listen to the podcasts. People will soon discover that he is the real deal.

      @LAWRENCE BURNS consider completing your profile as you’ll bring more credibility to your future posts.

      I wish I could end this response without injecting my back east sarcasm, but alas…

      “Consider bringing a half full glass of water to future threads. Fuhgeddaboudit!”

    • Chad Carson

      Awesome, Luke! Welcome to BP! I’m glad you found the list helpful. Let me know how you like them and which are most helpful for you. BP is a great place to me for new and experienced investors. Hang around, read up, and ask questions. Getting involved is the best way to learn.

    • Chad Carson

      Thanks, Michael. Yes, my intention with this article was to help you focus. One of the biggest challenges as new investor is distraction and overwhelm. You have to be selective about the source and the type of information you take in. I hope this helps!

  2. Willie Grega

    Chad….”Every Landlord’s Legal Guide” really is like the best cheat sheet ever. I’ve never heard it mentioned on an BP podcasts. The documents that they provide are excellent and the infomation in the book is fantastic. It is a foundational core of my success as a Landlord.

    • Chad Carson

      Great, Willie! Glad to hear that book has been very helpful for you. It has been an excellent addition to my library, and I can see how it’s been the foundational core for you. The legal side of the business and talking with attorneys can be very confusing and intimidating, so I think a reference manual like this is critical to have near your fingertips.

    • Chad Carson

      Thanks for comment Russell. What do you feel are lacking from most REI books?

      I certainly find some books more worth my time than others. It’s true that I can get at least an idea or two from just about any book, but i whittled this list down based upon a couple of things:

      1. Density of information. I wanted helpful, insightful ideas throughout the book.
      2. Coherent, organized presentation – the ideas need to fit into a larger framework that makes sense. The best real estate strategy in the world doesn’t help me if it’s not placed into the context of a real business and how to use it.
      3. Credibility of the author – have they really done what they say they have, are the honest and capable.

  3. Curry Forrer

    Thanks Chad great list I have 3 on my list already and will include the others. One book I would really recommend is the prosperity bible it’s alot of books in one but a great read for someone who is ready to think outside of the box.

  4. Kaitlyn Barks

    I love your stance on reading books as well and I’m excited to see that Building Wealth One House at a Time by John Schaub made the list. I feel like that one gets overlooked quite a bit, but it has some solid fundamental lessons. Thanks, Chad!

    • Chad Carson

      Thanks, Kaitlyn. Yeah, I’m a little old school in my book reading:) I can’t read without a pen in hand!

      John Schaub’s book is one of my favorites. The classics are those that keep teaching you over and over as you reread them. As I said in the article, I think a lot of people pass books like that over because they think they’re beyond that. But the fundamentals make all the difference in this business or others.

      Best of luck to you!

    • Chad Carson

      Thanks for the comment. YES, The Real Estate Game by William Poorvu was very close on this list. I really like this book, so I’ll plan to add it to a future review.

      For those curious right now, Poorvu has a really cool process in the book for breaking down the entire real estate business into 4 sub-games – 1) Properties 2) Capital Markets 3) Players, i.e buyers, sellers, etc 4) External environment. The rest of the book basically explains how those 4 sub-games interact. It’s a really helpful read. Thanks for suggesting it.

  5. Lydia S.

    Excellent post, thank you!
    As one unfamiliar with business strategies, I found The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber (so far my first read on paper since committing to a future in real estate), to be very helpful in thinking about my end-vision and how to get from here to there. I find the concepts repeated in posts and podcasts here on BP and am glad I read it.
    I was given a free copy of Keller’s Millionaire Real Estate Investor by a Broker just the other day! I attended a ‘career’ presentation at a Real Estate office to investigate how a license may work to the advantage of an investor, and the Broker was gracious with that gift.
    I will be at the local library soon to put in requests on some of the others you suggested, which is how I got my hands on The E Myth.

    • Chad Carson

      Thanks Lydia!
      I love the Emyth too. I left it off this list only because I consider it more of a business book than real estate investing. But it’s on my must-read list as well.

      A lot of people have recommended Gary Keller’s Millionaire Real Estate Investor. I am going to read it and may add to a future revision of the list:)

      Happy investing!

  6. Wesley Wong

    I’m just starting off so this is a great list to have stumbled across. I’ve only read What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow by Frank Gallinelli from this list. I’m just about to wrap up The MIllionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller. I was going to move onto Multi-Family Millions by David Lindahl. Would anyone have any advice whether I should continue on this path before reading the other 6 books or should I leave Multi-Family Millions and read one of the other 6 books on this list first? I was thinking either The Book on Investing in Real Estate With No (and Low) Money Down by Brandon Turner or Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner, & Janet Portman.

    • Chad Carson

      Hey Wesley,
      Thanks for commenting.
      A lot depends upon your specific real estate goals. If your plan is to start with multifamily, maybe David’s book is worthwhile. If you’re flipping, J Scott’s book is probably the best place to start. If you’re buying single family or small multifamily rentals, I would recommend John Schaub’s and Mike Butlers.
      Happy reading and investing!

  7. Ethan Mace

    Great list! I’ve been looking for some books I should be reading. I read Brandon Turner’s book and also got the audiobook to listen to while I drive.

    His info on seller financing was my favorite part of that particular book.

  8. Mike Butler

    thanks Chad for putting my book “Landlording On AutoPilot” on your TOP 7 Must Read Books for Investors. Also, thanks to you Chad for all of your great articles on BiggerPockets.com along with Brandon Turner who is cranking out great information like a ninja juice machine on not steroids, but kryptonite. thanks again guys, and reach out anytime if I can help you with anything, Mike Butler

  9. Michael Garrett

    Thanks Chad so much. I am starting from the beginning and I’ve been looking for a post just like this! I’m a computer nerd so getting the terminology correct is more important than anything to me. Knowing the right words to say makes a HUGE difference in the kind of help you get later from people in the business. I’m really hoping “Building Wealth One House at a Time” can be that book for me.

    Also, estimating costs while flipping is a TOTAL mystery for me so I’m hoping The Book On Estimating Rehab Costs clears that up enough that I can ask intelligent questions of my BP colleagues.

    • Chad Carson

      Great, Michael! I’m glad the list will be helpful for you. Thanks for commenting.

      I think you’re exactly right that the vocabulary of a craft is critical. When coding computers, it’s the building blocks for everything else. Real estate investing is very similar.

      I’d add that real estate is also very much about people – so getting comfortable talking with, negotiating with, and managing people is a key skill. Sometimes that’s best learned with practice (and with failures).

  10. J Scott

    Chad –

    Just saw this post, and wanted to thank you for the recommendation of my books and the kind words! I certainly agree with all the other books on the list (must reads!) as well…

    J Scott

  11. David Krulac

    Chad, I’ve read 6 of the 7, and still own them. I’ve read about 300 books on real estate, so far. I’d suggest you take a look at my book, which we talked about on Bigger Pockets Podcast #82, “How I Started With Nothing and Made $12 Million in Real Estate.” I also co-authored the Bigger Pockets book “Real Estate Rewind.”, a free download on BP.

    David Krulac

    • Chad Carson

      Wow! 300 books. That’s good. I haven’t counted the real estate books I’ve read yet, but I doubt it’s close to that!

      I bet you’d agree that knowledge learned from all of that reading compounds and becomes extremely valuable in the real world. I know it has for me.

      I’ll have to check out your podcast and your book. Thanks for recommending.

  12. PJ Muilenburg

    I’ve heard recommendations so many times on BP about the Cash Flow book but keep putting it off because it sounds so dry. But hey you’ve convinced me of its importance, the numbers that is, and I’ll make that my next read.
    I also must add that Brandon Turner’s two newest books on finding/analyzing deals and managing properties (with his lovely wife) were fantastic! I’m newer to real estate and never have I put a book down so many times to go actually change a part of my business before reading more. Very nuts and bolts content.

    • Chad Carson

      Ha, Ha … I hear you on the dry part. Yeah, it’s something you have to pick up, put down, and use as a resource. I’ve also found it helpful when I had actual deals to work on with it. Then the nuances of difference analysis techniques sink in better.

      Hope you find it helpful.

      I agree on Brandon’s books. I love the nuts-and-bolts, easy-to-apply content. He’s got a talent.

  13. Tom Underwood

    I just joined BP.com a week ago. I checked out a few books from the library, but they have some age to them.
    I did a search on R.E. books and came across the BP site. Wow! Talk about info. I am so pleased to have found this site and all the resources.
    I’m just getting started with my education, but have already purchased all the books listed in this article. I am currently reading ‘ Best RE Investing Advice EVER’ by Joe Fairless and The Hicks. I really like the way it is written and look forward to reading all the others.
    Luckily reading is one of my favorite things.
    Thanks for the great article.

    • Chad Carson

      Tom, welcome to BP! And thanks for the comment.

      Educating yourself is a great first step, and I’m glad these books will give you a focused head-start. I’ve talked with Joe Fairless before, and he’s also a really knowledgeable investor who you can learn from.

      Get involved here on BP, ask questions, and use what you learn to take action as soon as possible. Best of luck!

  14. Jeri Romesha

    Thank you for this list! I’m just in the beginning phases of learning how to become a real estate investor, currrently reading J. Scott’s Book on Flipping Houses, and have been thinking about what to focus on in this stage, so glad I stumbled onto your list! Thank you!

  15. I was looking up on best books to read on Real Estate. The Law of attraction truly works. Thank you Chad for the list will definitely get the books. would you mind mentoring me? Please

  16. Michelle E.

    Thanks for this list! I really appreciate the detail you gave and the key take aways from each. I love all the practical information I have gained from Bigger Pockets and this article is another example. I’ve read a couple of your recommendations, looks like I’ve got some new books to check out!

  17. chau ly

    I’m new to real estate , I’m focus on multi family investing , I also read couple of those book , great advise , those book really help me a lot , hey guy after reading those book remember go out there and pull the shoot , then you learn, I did scare to hell at first but work out great , thx

  18. Mark Ferguson

    Hi Chad
    I am brand new at investing and flipping homes. I have not flipped a home yet. I am considering getting my RE license in Texas. I have a broker that will sponsor me . This will take about 8 weeks and $1000. Do you think this will be more of a distraction than its worth ? Most flippers don’t appear to have a license. Your thoughts?
    I am new member of PB and it is a wealth of knowledge. I am looking forward to tomorrows webinar.

    • Chad Carson

      Hey Mark,
      There are arguments both ways about getting your license. Many couples or partners who do flips together have one of the two get their license. If they’re good at listing, staging, etc it can help. And most importantly you get direct access to comps on the MLS, which is super important.

      But it’s not necessary. I flipped for years before I got my own license. But you really need to have a good person on your team who understands the retail market and can get your flip looking perfect so it will sell fast and at top price.

      Just google “Bigger Pockets should I get my license” and you’ll get a lot of articles and forum threads.

  19. Abram Howard

    Exactly the beginning foundations of what I was looking for. These look and sound like excellent books to start on and build from. Learning, and remembering, the basics is so crucial in anything we do. Many people forget the basics and skip steps along the way. While it may not always bite back immediately it will eventfully catch up and may bite like a Great White.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article.

  20. Dean Hamilton

    I am glad they decided to re-post this article. Super helpful info… I am actually reading Brandon’s “No Down” book now. I am then going to read Scott Trench’s Set for Life, and then I’ll be looking at the Shuab book, the Gallinelli book, then the Butler book. Thanks for the tip Chad!

  21. Scott Walker

    Hi Chad, I’m somewhat of a newbie. I own a multi unit that I’ve had for some time. My main focus is to start investing on a more serious level. I’m pursuing my RE License first. I am wondering if you had a particular order as to read the books. I have them all except The Poor Charlie’s Almanac. I read the Ultimate Beginners Guide to RE Investing, and I’m reading The Book on Flipping Houses.

  22. Elizabeth Saldivar

    Thank you so much Chad. I am a newbie in real estate and just beginning to get informed before I do anything crazy. lol.. I am approaching real estate with great caution. I am so glad to have found a place where I can get information without wondering what’s the catch?

    Thanks again,

  23. Bruce Lee

    The 2nd Edition of Mike Butler’s book will publish on April 3, 2018, and has been re titled:
    Landlording on AutoPilot: A Simple, No-Brainer System for Higher Profits, Less Work and More Fun (Do It All from Your Smartphone or Tablet!), 2nd Edition

  24. Brandon Boog


    Thank you for this list! I love how you gave a quick unbiased synopsis of each book’s contents. I was just about to (hesitantly) buy a guru’s $1000 course on getting started in RE but I think I will start with these books and go from there.

    I’ve been learning a lot from podcasts and webinars but like you say, it’s nice to have a little more structure in your learning and I think these books will give me a more solid foundation.

    Thanks again!!!

  25. Meagan Langford

    I’m a real estate investing beginner in Oklahoma!!! So thank you so much for this list… I’d heard of all of them but one. So I feel like I’m moving in the right direction and I have this website and Brandon Turner to thank for that! My husband and I are learning so much and self education is our favorite part so far. (Other than house hunting.) Thanks again!

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