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A reader who called recently recommended the book Find It, Buy It, Fix It by Robert Irwin. I protested that I had seen some books by Robert Irwin in the past and found them to be a waste of time. But the reader assured me this was a great one.

I had never ordered a book from the Internet bookstore www.amazon.com so I thought this would be a good time to start. It worked fine. I ordered at their Web site and got the book in a couple of days.

There are very few worthwhile real estate investment books. Many of the useless books are just real estate dictionaries that are not in alphabetical order. These books define real estate terms but never get around to telling you how to make money. Irwin has written a number of those dictionaries. At least this is not one of them.

But the book does has several annoying characteristics that I have seen in other books. This is as good a time as any to denounce them. First, the book barely mentions any other human being other than Irwin. In that same vein, there is no acknowledgment section where he thanks the people who helped him in his career or with this book. The index contains not one single name of any person except for long-dead self-improvement writer Napoleon Hill.

The back cover says Irwin has written “more than 20 real estate books,” but there is no list anywhere in the book. Irwin is described as a broker, but there is never any mention of where. Since two examples in the book are in the San Francisco area, one suspects he works there. But I have been a real estate guy in the San Francisco area for 20 years. I have never heard of Irwin as a local person. None of the real estate people I know have ever mentioned him. He has no obligation to be locally prominent, but why the secrecy about where he is? Is “Robert Irwin” a pseudonym? If so, why?

At least, this particular book does no harm. His discussions are generally accurate and ethical. Some things he says are goofy, like using architects on fixer-upper houses or seeking real estate financing from venture capitalists.

But the main problem is he has virtually nothing new to say. Typical advice: seek motivated sellers and don’t take on do-it-yourself work unless you have the time and the skills. Did more trees have to die so that yet another real estate guru could repeat those old chestnuts?

I am continually amazed that trite books like these get published. Don’t encourage him or his publisher.

This originally appeared in Real Estate Investor’s Monthly newsletter.