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Book Review

'Keys': Too Elementary for Most Investors

"Keys to Investing in Real Estate," Third Edition, by Jack P. Friedman and Jack C. Harris (Barron's Educational Series, Hauppauge, N.Y.), $7.95, 156 pages.

September 10, 2000|ROBERT J. BRUSS

The basic premise of "Keys to Investing in Real Estate" by Jack P. Friedman and Jack C. Harris--to provide fundamental realty investment information--is admirable, but the execution is far from complete.

Putting 51 chapters into just 156 pages doesn't allow much room for details. At only two or three pages each, the chapters provide generalities rather than in-depth information. This is a book for beginner realty investors.

Unfortunately, much of the information is incomplete or misleading. For example, in the two-page chapter about mortgages and deeds of trust, the authors incorrectly state that if a defaulting deed of trust borrower doesn't bring payments current, "the trustee may be ordered by the court to turn the title over to the lender."

The authors neglect to mention that deed of trust foreclosures are usually nonjudicial auctions to the highest bidder, with the lender receiving title only if there are no bidders.

Readers who know real estate fundamentals will find this book frustrating. To illustrate, in the three-page chapter on purchase contract clauses, the authors state, "Pest control inspections: Gives buyer the right to inspect for insects and certain other rights or options if wood-destroying insects are found." This analysis should have stated that a well-written pest control clause gives the buyer the right to have the property professionally inspected and to cancel the purchase if the seller won't pay for necessary repairs.

Friedman and Harris surely know much more than they explain in this book. For example, the two-page chapter on exchanges doesn't even mention popular Starker delayed exchanges that enable investment property owners to sell one qualified property and acquire another without owing capital gains taxes.

This could have been a great real estate book. The basic outline is excellent, as is the premise of providing fundamental realty investment information.

Even novice realty investors want more investment details than this book provides.

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