There are a lot of great real estate books out there—many of which were published by BiggerPockets. And reading is one of the keys to prosperity, as virtually every successful person will tell you. They say the average CEO reads something like a book a week!
What follows is not a top 10 list. Instead, it is a recommended list of books to read—in order—for an aspiring real estate investor. Feel free to skip some if you are sure they cover a strategy you have no intention of pursuing.
For example, if you are sure that you will not be house hacking, you can skip No. 3. And if you are sure you would never consider doing a syndication, go ahead and skip book 10.
But if you want to go from zero to real estate investor, these are the books I would recommend reading, in order.
By Joshua Dorkin and Brandon Turner
What better place to start than the “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide” from Joshua Dorkin, the guy who founded the biggest real estate investment website, and Brandon Turner, long-time podcast co-host, millionaire real estate investor, bestselling author, and beard connoisseur?
This book is specifically tailored to newbies who come into real estate investing with a completely blank slate. So if you are just getting started or haven’t even gotten that far, this is the book for you.
By Gary Keller, Dave Jenks, and Jay Papasan
Despite being a long-time writer for BiggerPockets, I must admit that this is my all-time favorite real estate book—despite it not being one of BiggerPockets’. For shame!
Perhaps it’s just because it was the first really good one that I read. But having revisited it a few years back, I can say it’s definitely a must-read for aspiring investors (and even seasoned pros). Gary Keller (the founder of Keller-Williams Realty) is all about systems and models that are proven to work again and again:
“How do you take the luck [out] of the real estate investing game? First, you learn to play the game. Second, you learn to win the game. Playing well and winning consistently both start with learning proven, time-tested models.”
I’ve read a lot of good real estate books, but I haven’t read one that made the case for why real estate investing was so powerful nor outlined how to go about it from start to finish quite like this one.
By Craig Curelop
House hacking just means you live in your investment property after the purchase. Usually, you live in it while you are fixing it up, but you could also rent out several bedrooms individually or buy a property with an FHA loan that lends up to 96.5% with very good terms. With such loans, you can buy up to a fourplex. Yes, you have to live in one unit, but you can rent out the other three right off the bat.
House hacking is one of the absolute best ways to get started in real estate. If this is a route you want to consider, Craig Curelop’s book goes through all the ins and outs of how to get it done. If you are going to house hack, it’s an absolute must-read.
By Rick Villani and Clay Davis
This is one of the most definitive books on flipping houses around. It details every step of the process, from evaluating an area to selling the property. And it gives many case studies, as well.
The book is all about building a system and making flipping as much of a science as it possibly can be. As Villani and Davis put it:
“You have a formula for success, and if a potential investment doesn’t make the grade, you pass. And you keep passing until you find a property where the numbers say it will work. Following systems reduces the risk and improves your chance of success. The best flippers—those who win consistently—have and follow a proven system.”
I couldn’t agree more.
By Brandon Turner
If you have ever had the misfortune of being subjected to the stereotypical “get rich quick” real estate guru, you know that it’s all about “no money down” deals that will net you a fortune in less than a year. Plus, you can do it all easily from the comfort of your own home (as long as you can make three easy payments of $2,999, of course)! AND in case you need it, here’s how to negotiate with your credit card company to increase your limit so you can afford this three-ring binder, two short PDFs, and a once-a-month 30-minute phone call with my assistant.
Fortunately, there are ways to do “no and low money down” deals that aren’t slimy or bogus. And the best place to find these techniques without the guru gloss is Brandon Turner’s excellent book on the subject. Indeed, he notes the challenges any real estate investor will have even with these techniques at your disposal.
“Yes, fortunes are made in real estate, and some of those fortunates have been made rather quickly. However, for the vast majority of real estate investors, this is simply not going to happen, and I am not promising anything differently.”
By Matt Faircloth
Unless you have a lot of money sitting around or find ways to exclusively use the techniques from book five on this list, you will need to learn how to raise private capital. Matt Faircloth’s book is the place to go for that.
Despite having been in real estate for over 10 years, I came upon one way to raise capital I had never thought of before while reading this book: finding someone who owns a home with substantial equity who can then take out a low-interest HELOC against it.
“If they [cash providers] don’t borrow against the line, they have no monthly payments. When they do borrow, the payments are associated only with what they have out on the line of credit… Once they are in a deal, the carrying costs of that debt are low, and once the deal is complete, they can pay back their HELOC and wait for the next deal to come around.”
And that is just one of the many ideas and techniques on raising private money he discusses.
By J Scott, Mark Ferguson, and Carol Scott
Anyone looking to master negotiations needs to read two books: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann. Real estate investors who want to master negotiation need to read a third: The Book on Negotiating Real Estate by J Scott, Mark Ferguson, and Carol Scott.
The book goes through the process of negotiating various real estate deals and gives many examples of how to approach such negotiations. It also helps you understand the mindset of a successful real estate negotiator,
“As any truly formidable real estate investor will tell you, success doesn’t come from knowing how to negotiate—it comes from knowing how to solve problems. Your best deals won’t come from exerting leverage over the other party and your best deals won’t come from charming a buyer or seller with your charisma. Your best deals will come from solving the problems that are motivating the other party to want to enter into the transaction in the first place.”
By J Scott
From what I’ve seen, rehab is where most new investors screw up. Indeed, it’s where most seasoned investors screw up, too. Insufficient due diligence and an excess of optimism come back to bite you every time. That’s why this book by J Scott is so essential.
My company built our entire rehab estimate system off this book—including a rehab estimate template I’ve had some 200 different people request. The book explains how to determine what work a property needs and estimate the repair costs, as well as the time for completion.
That being said, as Scott points out, “There is no magic formula for being able to determine what you should renovate on a particular house or how much the renovation will cost.” Instead, you will have to figure out what works for you.
This book, however, is a great guide to use in order to build that framework.
By Jeffrey Taylor
Jeffrey Taylor (aka “Mr. Landlord“) is the most creative and thoughtful property manager out there today. To highlight just one of the many great and unique tips he has to offer:
“When residents move in to one of my properties, I welcome them into my 3-Star Resident program. It doesn’t cost them anything and they get perks by being a part of it. Their ‘anniversary’ becomes a time of celebration. Every year, I give them a choice of property upgrades (costing between $25 and $75 each) for paying rent on time. Some landlords wonder why I reward people for doing what they’re supposed to do anyway. I regard my residents as business partners and vital member of my success team; giving rewards helps our relationship work. It also encourages them to stay longer than one year. To avoid vacancies, I’m glad to give a property upgrade that costs $75 or less. Too many times, landlords try to be cheap and step over dollars to save nickels. This isn’t rocket science; I’ve proven that people stay longer when I offer upgrades!”
The book is just full of helpful ideas like this. If you plan to manage properties yourself, this book is a must-read.
By Joe Fairless and Theo Hicks
Real estate syndications are securities that a principal (namely the investor) makes when they bring in passive investors to provide most or all of the equity. In other words, you buy an apartment (or other large property), get a bank loan for 75% of the purchase (usually), and then passive investors provide most or all of the cash for the 25% down payment. The principal and the investors then split the ownership (usually around 25% to the principal and 75% to the investors).
This is a very common investment strategy that many BiggerPockets regulars such as Matt and Liz Faircloth, Ben Leybovich, and Brian Burke use. And Joe Fairless and Theo Hicks have written a great book (perhaps the best ever, as their rather self-assured title claims) on the topic. It walks you through a step-by-step analysis of such a deal, as well as how to get it under contract, perform due diligence, and close on it.
If you want to start aiming at bigger properties, you should definitely read this book.
Honorable Mentions (Read These Next!)
Once you’ve blasted your way through those 10, it doesn’t mean you just get to just stop reading. No, after these, it’s on to the next 10. I recommend the following (although now the order doesn’t matter so much).
Recession-Proof Real Estate Investing by J. Scott
We are definitely going into a recession, so how to invest during a recession is something you should make time to research.
How to Sell Your Home by Mindy Jensen
Selling your home is rarely discussed in comparison to buying. But it’s critical to understand how to do it effectively, especially if you intend to flip a lot.
Finding & Funding Great Deals by Anson Young
Anson takes a deep dive into various marketing and financing techniques that are important for any real estate investor to become acquainted with, especially if you want to find off-market deals.
The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner
This title covers similar ground to The Millionaire Real Estate Investor and is very well-written and definitely worth reading, as well.
The Book on Managing Rental Properties by Brandon Turner and Heather Turner
A great book on the ins and outs of property management. If you manage yourself, you should read this one and Jeffrey Taylor’s classic.
Another good book on property management worth reading from the guru-slayer John T. Reed.
The Book on Tax Strategies for the Savvy Real Estate Investor by Amanda Han
Amanda takes an in-depth look into the accounting/tax side of real estate investment. While not the most exciting topic, it’s essential to get right.
Long-Distance Real Estate Investing by David Greene
Investing out of state can be risky. If you are going to try it, make sure to read up on how to do it with this book.
Multi-Family Millions by Dave Lindahl
Another good book on buying apartments and real estate syndication.
Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur by James A. Randel
This book goes into commercial real estate, particularly office and retail, and is worth reading for anyone interested in those niches.
What real estate books have you found the most useful?
Let us know your favorites in the comments below.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.