4 Must Read Investing Books

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What are the best books about investing, money, and the stock market?

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Let me have a crack at it.

Charlie Munger said:

“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 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.”

So it’s safe to say reading A LOT of books is a good idea. Read far and wide, different subjects, different genres, different authors. But let’s say you don’t have time to do that. You want the best “bang for buck” book out there. Look no further than the reading lists below.

10 Must-Read Real Estate Investing Books for 2020

Whether you are just starting out as a real estate investor or are an experienced investor looking to grow your portfolio, education is an essential element for building expertise and refining your strategy.

We’ve chosen some of the best books to help you at every stage of your real estate investing career.

Remember, the key to a successful investment business lies not just in investing strategy but in business operations, systems, and processes as well.

We’ve put together a list of books to help you with all aspects of your real estate investment strategy, management, and oversight.

With authors who are some fo the best real estate executives and investors, finance specialists, and business operations gurus, you’re sure to find the insights you need to add value on your next deal.

1. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor

By: Gary Keller, Dave Jenks, and Jay Papasan

Gary Keller has a talent for writing foundational works that provide detailed strategies and insights into various aspects of the real estate industry.

His investor handbook is a classic and offers insight into evaluating deals, negotiating effectively, developing your team, and leveraging people and processes to build your investment business.

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor offers a combination of theoretical and practical advice designed for every stage of an investor’s timeline, from the first deal to the growth of an established business. With insight and advice from more than 100 millionaire investors, you’ll find the everyday wisdom you need at every point of your investor journey.

2. Long Distance Real Estate Investing

By: David Greene

For many real estate investors, a buy and hold strategy does not work in their local market. David Greene’s Long-Distance Real Estate Investing: How to Buy, Rehab, and Manage Out-of-State Rental Properties provides the strategies you need to invest in favorable and profitable markets wherever they’re located while managing risk and ensuring oversight.

Greene provides his real-world experience in buying, managing, and flipping projects, often without ever seeing the properties in person. He offers tips on building your management team, identifying stellar markets and properties, and controlling costs on rehabs and renovations.

Find the guidance you need to successfully invest wherever you want from wherever you are.

3. The Ten-Day MBA

By: Steven Silbiger

While many investors possess great insights and instincts, they may not have the education or experience needed to successfully run a large-scale business operation.

The Ten-Day MBA by Steven Silbiger is a classic work that gathers the latest business and operational insights taught in the best business schools in the country and shares that cutting-edge education with you.

With information on marketing, finance, investment, accounting, and more, you’ll benefit from a holistic understanding of the ins and outs of running a business so that you can successfully scale and grow your investments.

With lessons on leadership, corporate ethics, and more, you’ll ensure you’re making all of the right moves and decisions at every stage of your business’s growth.

4. What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow

By: Frank Gallineli

If you sometimes feel like real estate investing has its own language, you’re right. This book helps you understand elements like Discounted Cash Flow, Net Present Value, Cap Rate, ROI and more in order to better evaluate and track your investments.

This classic book has been updated with new information and new case studies based on the recent uptick of interest in real estate investment.

What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow offers readers depth, wisdom, and the tools you need to ensure that you are properly evaluating new opportunities and long-term profitability. You’ll find yourself referring back to Columbia University professor Gallineli’s expertise and experience throughout your career as an investor.

5. One Rental at a Time

By: Michael Zuber

One Rental At A Time: The Journey to Financial Independence through Real Estate is Michael Zuber’s actionable guide to getting started in real estate investing.

Zuber believes that just four properties can make a huge difference in your financial life, so his guide provides the tools you need to begin building a portfolio of any size.

If you’ve been coming up with excuses for why you can’t get started in real estate investing or have had a hard time taking the practical steps you need to put your plans into operation, this book can make a difference.

With an emphasis on coaching vs. criticism, Zuber provides the mentoring you need and the real-world applications that can get you started.

6. The Book On Rental Property Investing

By: Brandon Turner

Written by real estate investor and co-host of the Bigger Pockets podcast, Brandon Turner, this book is designed to be an exhaustive and complete guide to large-scale real estate investment. It’s designed to help new investors launch effectively and to help experienced investors scale their business with the goal of becoming a millionaire real estate investor.

With real-world examples and an emphasis on actionable strategies, this book is geared toward the practical rather than the theoretical. It’s suitable for both passive and hands-on investors and provides financial advice from project acquisition through rehab all the way to tax strategies.

7. Build a Rental Property Empire

By: Mark Ferguson and Lynda Pelissier

With deep roots in the real estate industry, Mark Ferguson has worked as a buy and hold investor, flipper, and real estate broker.

He brings his varied background and experiences into play in Build a Rental Property Empire: The no-nonsense book on finding deals, financing the right way, and managing wisely as he guides investors and potential investors through the industry in order to help you evaluate markets and overcome obstacles.

With real world case studies and practical advice, you’re sure to find insights to help you launch or grow an investment business. With topics ranging from investment property analysis to financing to property management and more, you’ll find up-to-date, real-world advice to help you make good decisions for a variety of real estate investment scenarios.

The latest edition includes a new section on Commercial Real Estate Investment for those looking to move into that space as well.

8. The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs

By: J. Scott

Whether you are considering diversifying your exit strategies through flipping houses or want to get better at updating and upgrading your buy and hold properties for higher rentals, this guide to evaluating and estimating both the costs and the values of rehabs and renovations is essential reading.

DC-area flipper J. Scott helps you add value and save money through implementing the methods he has developed over the course of hundreds of home renovations.

Through thorough inspections, value assessments, and a list of the 150+ most common renovations you’ll learn how to build and manage your budget in order to ensure that you stay on target throughout the rehab or renovation process. Whether you’re doing a quick cosmetic update or a full-scale renovation, you’ll find the advice and insights you need in this volume.

9. Raising Private Capital

By: Matt Faircloth

In Raising Private Capital: Building Your Real Estate Empire Using Other People’s Money, Matt Faircloth offers financial advice for both new and experienced investors, including sources of private finance, equity deals, and structuring debt. Having completed more than $30 million in transactions involving private capital, Faircloth brings realistic advice to the table.

Faircloth’s advice encompasses not only how to find private capital but how to ensure win-win outcomes for both the investor and the financier, in order to keep that cash flowing.

His financial advice is geared toward long-term investment and wealth-building, with solid, practical steps to help you do more deals through the power of private capital.

10. The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing: The Secrets of Finding Hidden Profits Most Investors Miss

By: Ken McElroy

We asked Domenick Tiziano, founder of Accidental Rental what book he’d recommend, and he had nothing but glowing things to say about Ken McElroy’s classic, The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing .

“If you are thinking about investing in rentals, there is no better book out there in my opinion. Ken shows you not only the right way to value a property, but also how to manage it for maximum profit.

I was struggling as a first-time landlord and losing thousands every year on an unprofitable rental. Ken’s book gave me the inspiration and know-how to turn my rental money pit into a cash-flow positive investment.

If you study his methods and follow his advice, you will profit from this book!”

4 best books for retirement investors

Paul A. Merriman

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Four of the best books on investing are probably in your local library.

The question of the day: How much do you really need to know in order to be a successful investor?

Throughout North America, it’s the start of the school year, and my new course on personal investing is being taught for the first time at Western Washington University. Students will get almost 40 hours of classroom time, and a roughly equal amount of homework, to prepare themselves for the rest of their lives.

I am not teaching the course, but I have been involved in its inception financially, emotionally and intellectually. The class, part of Western’s College of Business and Economics, is called Personal Investing; how’s that for a catchy name?

Lots of university classes are about theory and understanding. This one has some of that, of course, but its main goal is to change the students’ lives. The university has agreed to do a six-year follow-up study of how well the class succeeds in that goal — and of course I will be keenly interested in knowing the outcome.

In consulting with the faculty about this over the past year and a half, I’ve given a lot of thought to how much an investor really needs to know in order to get off on the right foot.

How many years of college? How many hundreds or thousands of investment articles and books? How many seminars and discussions? How many online courses in trading? (When it comes to day trading, the answer is zero, zip, nada.)

Some investors think it takes years, even decades, of studying, reading, listening, watching and searching for the secret sauce. I don’t think so.

Students in this class will be exposed to a limited number of essential topics. These include the power of time and the importance of interest rates, using the time value of money in real-world situations, how various types of investments rank in terms of risk and expected return, asset allocation, controlling costs, tax laws, inflation, diversification, rebalancing, the issues associated with market timing and chasing performance and of course the role of emotions such as fear, regret, surprise and happiness.

My hope is that the students will quickly be able to apply this knowledge quickly after graduation (or in some cases even before) to their 401(k) accounts and IRAs. I want them to make savvy decisions early in their adult lives and continue to do so permanently.

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If the course is successful, the 45 students should be able to skip the common blunders that so many people make in their first 10 or 20 years of investing. That should leave them with more savings and more peace of mind, along with less stress.

Assuming that you aren’t going back to college to learn how to be an investor, what does this mean to you? Is there any way you can benefit from this class?

I think the answer is yes. If you are willing to put in 20 hours, I think you can give yourself an education that will cover much of the same ground that these students will get from 80 hours of instruction and study.

So here’s your assignment: Read just four books. They are easy, but I hope you will take the time to think about what you’re reading as you go. These four books are widely available online, and there’s a good chance that you can find them free at your local library.

The four best investment books I know

“The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” by John Bogle. The author is the founder of Vanguard and the inventor of index funds for individual investors. He’s classy, intelligent and articulate. As I have written before, he is part of Wall Street, yet he’s on our side. Name any mutual fund in existence today, and you can be pretty sure that John Bogle has had an impact on how that fund and its managers operate.

This book summarizes and condenses many practical lessons that investors should put into practice. I find myself coming back to it from time to time, and you may want to do the same.

“Your Money and Your Brain,” by Jason Zweig. Zweig, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and formerly a senior writer at Money magazine and mutual funds editor at Forbes, does an outstanding job of showing how the invisible hard wiring inside our brains dictates a lot of our behavior. Often this is a good thing, but many times this automatic behavior gets us into trouble.

At least five times I have read this fascinating book on the psychology of investing. Each time I learn more about how easily and stealthily our fear, happiness, greed, surprise and regret can hijack our thinking.

“Mutual Funds for Dummies,” by Eric Tyson, is in my opinion a must-read for any serious investor. Tyson has written a handful of best-selling personal finance books. At one time he was (and maybe still is) the only author ever to have four entries at the same time on Business Week’s list of best-selling business books.

You can regard this book as a vital manual on how to understand and use the mutual funds that are likely to make up the bulk of your retirement portfolio.

“Financial Fitness Forever,” which I wrote for publication late in 2020, focuses on five basic choices every investor makes — choices that produce success or disappointment. I remember once getting a phone call from the book’s editor, who had just finished reading the first draft of the first half of the book. “Paul, I have changed my portfolio,” he told me.

I would especially call your attention to three chapters: Where Will You Place Your Trust?, Twelve Numbers to Change Your Life and “The Perfect Investor.” I plan to use that last one as a springboard for a couple of upcoming MarketWatch columns.

If you use these four volumes as your syllabus and your textbooks, you won’t have to go back to college. That seems like a heck of a deal to me.

Richard Buck contributed to this article.

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