I just got an interesting testimonial from a real estate book reader in the Netherlands. I frequently get asked if my real estate investemnt books apply to foreign countries.
Yes and no. Yes on the basic approach. No with regard to customs and laws unique to the country in question.
A Swedish reader said the fact that he was probably the only guy in that country who had read my books was a virtue. In the land of the blind, the one guy who read American John T. Reed’s books on real estate investment is king. He was a contrarian to use a word from the title of one of my football coaching books. The kind of people who would have been competing with him in America were oblivious to what he was doing or why in Sweden.
One of my real estate investment writer friends issued a Canadian edition of his main book for a number of years. Then he quit doing it. Too much trouble for the effort and expense given the incremental sales he got.
We American writers are spoiled. We have a market of 325 million people all operating under the same federal laws and under 50 different state laws, but the variations among states are not that noteworthy—with a few exceptions that are well known to me and my readers—like bankruptcy exemptions and non-recourse mortgage states. Canada has 35 million people, which to an American writer is the size of California. I don’t even write books aimed at Californians.
So should foreigners buy my books to use in their countries? Apparently, yes, because the alternative is no books or mediocre books. They need to supplement what my books say with knowledge of local laws and customs in real estate, but the basic ideas in my books apply worldwide.
Here is the email. The author requested anonymity. My comments are in [red]. Emphasis is also mine.
About 5 years ago I bought some of your real estate books.
Thankfully I postponed buying my real-estate investments until after I had digested your advice. That was one of the best decisions of my life.
At the time I read so much, but your advice seemed the most credible. So when buying I thought to myself "what would John say/do" more times than I can count.
Well, fast forward 5 years and I can tell you that your advice was (by quite some margin) the most realistic!
All of that 5% down, over-leveraged, "guru" advice. Pah! Maybe in some markets some of the time, but not in mine!
Thanks to your advice I was much more conservative in my LTV ratio. At the time I felt like I might have been too conservative, but not now! FYI I'm at about 50% now, getting lower every year, and I'm really glad about that.
......and just as you said it would be, there's always "something" with the apartment buildings I own. Boilers, leaks, doors, windows, circuits....yada yada yada. It just keeps going...as you said.
But do you know what? I don't mind, because I planned on the buildings always having something...because I read your books. The cash-flow covers it all with plenty to spare.
There are other relevant "stories", but the most recent one just happened, and I guess it prompted me to write to since it's kind of "hat trick" for you!.....having a vacancy rate....raising rents until you know you can't.
One of my apartments was empty for 6 months. Intentionally. [My recommendation is to have the new tenant move in the day the old one moves out, which I generally accomplished. Not sure why he would intentionally have a six-month vacancy.]
Against: my house managers advice, the assistant's advice, the old tenants advice, the other building tenants advice (of course), and in fact against all advice except yours I decided to raise the rent. Shock horror! "You should keep the same rent" "You don't want a vacancy" "It's not fair" etc..
Now, since I'm from the Reed school l purposefully shot for a 30% increase in the rent. Crazy guy!
I didn't get it.
...but I did get 20%! [That would generally also raise the building value 20%.]
So "thank you" John. I know you are a decent man and you know what you are talking about!
Name withheld by request
I have lots of other testimonials about my real estate stuff. You can see links to those testimonials at almost all of the pages for my various books. The links are labeled “reader comments” or “reader success stories.”
The Dutchman’s comments highlight one of the things I think sets my books apart—they match the real world. I don’t know why other writers rarely do that. I guess they think they will make more money avoiding mentioning the messy, often troublesome nature of reality. But it seems to me you only sell one book to a customer when you play that game. I have 20 real estate investment books and would like the customer to come back and buy the other 19.