Archive for the ‘book review’ Category

The 5 Rules on How to Lose Money and Get Your Rental Property Trashed by Tenants

Friday, August 10th, 2012

The Arizona Network of Real Estate invited me to give a presentation to their group about my book “Fix em Up Rent em Out.”

I thought the video might be available to the general public but it looks as though that’s not going to happen.

However, so that no one feels left out, I am going to provide  a summary of the key points that I hit during the presentation. As someone who was regularly picked last for teams in gym class, I’m sensitive to people feeling left out. Casting modesty to the wind, I am also including exclusive photos of the event.

So here are:

The 5 Rules on How to Lose Money and Get Your Rental Property Trashed by Tenants (based on an article by Andrew Stefanczyk)

1. Choose the Worst Possible Area

Location will determine the kinds of tenants you will attract, and how much rent you can fairly charge.

Do you want these bearded wonders as tenants?

The best approach is to identify target areas in your city where you would like to focus your purchases. I like to focus on “transition zones” (where there is a mixture of housing types) which are good for investors because we can purchase properties at lower prices, and there is high demand to live in these areas.

2. Put in the very best of things when fixing up  an investment property

Use new and expensive sinks, doors, refrigerators, light fixtures, etc. Never shop at stores that recycle construction supplies. Spare no  expense.

Of course, the problem is that tenants will not take care of our properties as well as we would,

Habitat Store

so we end up with many broken or worn out items. The better alternative is to shop at used building supply stores, and to purchase good, inexpensive, supplies for our rental houses. One such store is the Habitat for Humanity store.

3. Make sure you have absolutely no experience in make basic repairs

Not knowing how to change electrical outlets, unclog drains & toilets, and replace broken windows will cost quite a bit down the road.

The better way is to:

A. Learn as you go, and comply with EPA regulations

B. Take construction classes at junior college

C. Learn from handymen and contractors

D. Take the Zen approach to  house repair learn to do everything yourself

5. Utilize fix-up books, investing books, & YouTube to find answers on how to make house repairs

4. Do not screen your tenants

Being as uninformed as possible about who you rent to may be the best way to lose money as a landlord. Do not ask for or check references. Do not call previous landlords and ask questions like, did they pay rent on time? How was the condition of the house or apartment when they left? Did they ever disturb neighbors with loud music or shouting matches? How often would you have to make special trips for repairs? Being as uninformed as possible about whom you rent to will make a huge difference and will increase the chances that you will get tenants that will trash your property and refuse to pay rent.

However, the better way is to:

A. Use a checklist for tenants. Decide what kind of tenant that you want ahead of time.

B. Look at their paycheck to verify income.

C. Check county records to see what illegal activities they’ve been up to.

D. Know the Fair Housing Act. Never select tenants based strictly on “race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability).”

E. To find new tenants, use Craiglist, put up arrow signs, and host an “open house.”

5. Make sure you have not learned about your rights as a landlord

Be completely unfamiliar with the eviction process to guarantee long, drawn out disputes with tenants. Don’t keep up to date financial records or copies of correspondence with tenants. Most states provide online information about tenant and landlord rights so avoid reading these.

The better way is:

A. Get an authoritative legal guide like  “The Arizona Landlord Deskbook” by Carlton Cassler.

B.  Copy forms and letters from your legal book to send to tenants.

C. Comply with legal ways to deal with bad tenants.

D. Use memos to communicate with tenants so you have a record of correspondence.

E. Use a month to month lease instead of long-term lease to more easily scrape off bad tenants like barnacles.

F. Reward tenants for paying on time by discounting their rent $25.  

G. Send good tenants Target  gift cards for Xmas.

In Conclusion

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“Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

–Albert Schweitzer

Carve Out Your Niche Update

My award-winning book on self-publishing, Carve Out Your Niche, is now available in Kindle format.

The Midwest Book Review called Carve Out Your Niche,

“Invaluable for anyone seeking to successfully write, publish, and market their own work.”

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New Review Of "Fix em Up, Rent em Out" at Your Online Handyman !!

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

. has posted a review of my book “Fix em Up, Rent em Out.”

Here is an an excerpt from the review:

The author Tery Sprouse wrote this book for the person with a limited amount of disposable income who wants to invest in real estate, but want to keep their 9-5 job. He takes you through his experiences in real estate and really takes years off the learning curve. Naturally since I am so into home repair I found those aspects of the book fascinating, getting to hear exactly how he approached each job even when he often had limited experience. Of course the chapters of the book that talked about real estate as an investment were also very informative.

But this book is more than that, “Fix Em Up Rent Em Out” is about growing as a person while learning how to fix up properties which happens to be the exact same theme of this site. The book is about life as much as it is home repair. It’s about doing what you want in life and doing what you enjoy. While the entire book was very well written and methodically went from chapter to chapter I especially could relate to chapter six, The Zen of Repairing Properties which talks about developing as a person by doing what you enjoy and living life on your own terms.

Terry really has a great philosophy on life! In chapter 1 he talks about living life to the fullest and accomplishing in life the things that you really want to do. He explains to you how to take your life in a direction that you want to go in even if what you want to do is not possible right now. You really could get the feeling that he loves what he is doing and wants to share it with the world.

Here is the entire review.

I encourage you to check out other posts at Your Online Handyman that are packed with great information about how to paint ceilings (and enjoy it), how to keep group lines clean, how to keep thos pesky dust mites out of the house, and much more.

Here are my upcoming radio guest spots:

May 29, Gary West, WBVP-WMBA, Beaver Falls, PA
June 2, Phil Rivera, WLTN, Littleton, NH
June 5, Mark Wayne, WICH, Norwich, CT
June 9, Ron Ross, WJBC, Bloomington, IL

Info on Terry’s Book

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Fixer Jay Webpage Worth a Look

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Fixer Jay

One of my favorite real estate investing authors, and someone who has inspired me in my own  fixer upper house business, is Fixer Jay DeCima. He has a very informative webpage at I regularly check out his blog posts located on the website.

As I have mentioned before, I think Jay’s books are exceptionally good guides to learn about the fixer-upper business.

Here is a review I wrote about Jay’s latest book:

Start small, profit big in real estate

The Quickest Way to Lose Money

What is the quickest way to lose money in real estate?

Find out in my latest article.

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Chapter 2 Review of "Fix em Up, Rent em Out" Now on Locomono REI Blog

Friday, May 9th, 2008

The review of Chapter 2 of my book “Rent em Out, Fix em Up” is now up on REI monoloco blog. The article is entitled And the Big Question, WHY?

The review covers shifting from “assets” to “income” and 5 unassailable reasons why you should invest in fixer-uppers.

And, as though that weren’t enough reason to charge over to the site, Mark is offering the chance to win a FREE copy of the book just for answering a question that he posits after the article!!

Other good blogs to check out:

It’s sad to see Connie at leave the blogoshpere, but you can read her parting words entitled And Thanks! For All the Fish …. Good luck Connie!

But We’re Paying Full Price addresses the issue of buyers creating never-ending repair lists for sellers, at

Find out what is The Best, Cheapest Investment When Selling at explains why now is a good time to invest in the article A Question From Jack.

Want to retire early? Read Early Retirement Requires Financial and Lifestyle Planning at

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Book Review of "The 4-Hour Workweek"

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Ever wonder what it would be like to trade your 8-5:00 job in for a 4-hour workweek job?

Is it really a feasible option, or just wishful thinking?

The book follows many of the principles used in establishing a fixer upper house business.

To find out, see my review of Justin Ferriss’ book “The 4-Hour Workweek” at

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Best new books list, new review of "Fix em Up," and chance to win FREE book

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

For your holiday reading enjoyment, here is a link the the Best New Real Estate Books list that I posted on

Also, many thanks to Connie on for her review of my new book on her blog.

For any one interested in winning a free copy of “Fix em Up, Rent em Out,” ChristianPF is having a drawing, but you must enter before midnight, Dec. 24th. You can register to win and get more details here.

Best wishes for a happy holiday!

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Start Small, Profit Big in Real Estate — A review of Jay DeCima’s book

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

For those of us in the fixer upper and rental house business Fixer Jay is the old pro.

This book has the strong qualities of Jay’s first book (“Investing in Fixer Uppers”)–written in a easy-going, lay-back style that makes it enjoyable to read, and it presents an eminently useful model that really works.

Jay likes to avoid slick and flashy techniques because “slick is another word for slippery.” He points out the gurus who formerly expounded on a wide assortment of get-rich techniques are “either bankrupt or working in gas stations.” Jay advises to stick with run-down, fixer-upper types of properties. Buy low, and improve their value, and rent them out. It’s a winning formula that I, and many others, have used to make money in real estate.

I particularly liked Jay’s technique of taking a low key negotiation approach, like the former TV-detective Columbo when he interrogated suspects. Instead of putting the seller on the defensive, don’t directly tell them what’s wrong with their house, no one wants a complete stranger to come up and criticize their house. Instead, always show respect to the seller, and have the seller tell you what’s wrong with the house by asking him a series of polite questions. Just when Columbo was going out the door and you thought he was leaving, he would always turn around and say, “oh by the way, just one more question for you.” He asked it in the most polite way, and often the answer to that question was the one that cracked the case open.

Listen carefully to what the seller has to say. You can learn a lot by listening. Don’t be critical, never talk down to anyone. Even sellers who must sell, won’t sell to you if you try to intimidate them. Jay points out that you still must diligently verify any information you get from the seller. One way to do that is to ask for their “Schedule E” tax form.

Another key to Jay’s formula is turning motivated sellers into bankers. This is something that a lot of us, myself included, need to work on. If we follow Jay’s advice and get the seller to finance at least part of the loan, the purchase process suddenly becomes much easier.

I also liked Jay’s memo system of dealing with renter problems. In using this system, I find it simplifies my dealings with renters. If you call and tell them to do something, they forget. If they see it in writing, in an official-looking memo, they will usually, but not always, do what you ask them to do. It reduces direct contact with them and it gives you written documentation in case you later need it later to remove them from the house. I like Jay’s comment “tenants don’t intimidate me because they are simply no match for my landlording skills.” A bold statement that we should all strive for.

Overall, there is a lot to like about this book. If offers sound advice for the new, and the seasoned, investor. The Columbo negotiating technique alone was worth reading.

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