Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Las Vegas home-buying spree pays off big time


Investors benefit from stellar job growth, affordability factor
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The unusual real estate book, "The Insider's Guide to 52 Homes in 52 Weeks," by Dolf de Roos and Gene Burns, tells how a real estate "guru" and an amateur investor teamed up to acquire 52 three- and four-bedroom houses in Las Vegas in about 10 months. They accomplished their goal by never investing more than $5,000 of their own cash in any house.
This fascinating book is the story of a beginner real estate investor who convinced a real estate "guru," who teaches real estate classes, to take him on as a partner to buy 52 houses in 52 weeks. It was a challenge that evolved as the local market changed and as the two investors simplified their assembly-line methods to meet their goal.
Purchase Bob Bruss
reports online.
The story begins in 2001 when Burns attended a Learning Annex real estate class taught by de Roos. The student took several additional classes. Upon hearing what a great real estate market Las Vegas had become for investors, Burns convinced 1) his wife to move from San Diego to Las Vegas, and 2) de Roos to become his investment partner.
The reason the new partners chose Las Vegas was its explosive employment growth with a housing supply limited by geographic constraints. Also, the relatively affordable home prices made the market especially attractive for investors.
Although de Roos hadn't invested in residences for over 15 years, Burns convinced him to put his real estate methods into practice. Burns did most of the legwork, while de Roos advised him and cheered him on as he traveled to New Zealand (his home country), Australia, and other places.
At the beginning of the experiment, the partners concentrated on buying three- and four-bedroom pre-foreclosure houses. Their plan was to buy houses in good condition needing little or no fix-up, reinstate the existing mortgages, lease-option the houses to rental tenants, and then move on to the next purchase.
But their plan gradually evolved from buying houses with seller financing to purchasing brand-new houses, including a few builders' model houses, financed with new mortgages. After nine months of buying houses, the partners realized they had met their goal of buying 52 houses and decided to quit buying so they could enjoy their profits.
The book is filled with many specific examples and stories of the sellers and the tenants. Experienced real estate investors will quickly relate to the circumstances, such as the party house, four Doberman dogs, beautiful women, and even a troublesome blackjack dealer and an FBI agent.
As I read the book, as an experienced landlord, I kept asking myself, "Can this success story be repeated in other cities?" My conclusion is, "probably yes," but with slower success.
De Roos and Burns explain the unique aspects of Las Vegas real estate profits, such as high turnover of residents who often don't like the unique living conditions, huge employment growth, and a booming local economy. Obviously, the quick profits summarized for each Las Vegas house probably can't be duplicated in slow- or no-growth cities, where de Roos and Burns would not recommend investing.
What makes the book especially enjoyable and believable reading is the photos of the houses the authors bought. Those photos make it very easy for readers to relate to the circumstances of each purchase.
Along the way, the authors explain the importance of finding a hard-working buyer's real estate agent, a sharp mortgage broker, a good title officer, and other real estate professionals.
Chapter topics include: "The Real Estate Challenge"; "What We Did in Vegas and What You Can Do Anywhere"; "Determining Your Strategy and Getting Started"; "Our First Deals"; "Learning to Ask for Help"; "A Shift in Strategies"; "Networking"; "Being Flexible"; "Why Las Vegas Will Continue to Grow"; and "You Can Do It Too."
Whether you are a new or experienced real estate investor, you can learn from the experiences of these investors who accomplished the awesome task of buying 52 houses in less than one year. Along the way, they even had time to invest in property tax lien certificates. On my scale of one to 10, this unique real estate home buying book rates a solid 10.

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