Archive for the ‘Fixer Jay’ Category

Why You Must Own Certain Real Estate Books

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The fixer-upper house business is a great business to be in these days. But, if you are just starting out, and are as green as a gourd, as I was, you need some help.

To speed up the learning processes, you need to have a collection of reference books on home repair, buying and selling houses, rental properties, tax law and all other aspects of real estate.

If a home without books is like a body without a soul, then a fixer-upper business without reference books is like a cook without a cookbook.

You may not know everything at the start of your new business and you may need help in some areas, especially in the initial stages. However, each time you pay to have someone do work for you, or go through some new process, you should observe everything, ask questions and learn the process.

That way, the next time you will be able to do it yourself, or at least perform a larger part of the project. The key is to keep doing things over and over until you master how it works. You will eventually reach a point where you make decisions of where to make repairs and which houses to buy based on your instinct.

Books will help you to reach that point sooner.

Here are some books that I have found particularly useful to have on hand:

1. Fix em Up, Rent em Out, by yours truly. Yes, believe it or not, I read my own book! Anyone who says otherwise, is just itching for a fight.

2. Investing in Fixer Uppers, by Jay DeCima. His first, and still my favorite, of his books.

3. Investing in Real Estate, by Gary Eldred.

4. Arizona Landlord’s Deskbook (or the equivalent for your state.) by Carlton Casler.

5. Real Estate Debt Can Make You Rich, by Steve Dexter.

6. Wiring 1-2-3, by Home Depot

7. Plumbing 1-2-3, by Home Depot

8. Tiling 1-2-3, by Home Depot. Are you getting the impression that I like the Home Depot books? In addition to mastering the art of tile installation, I made my first grout repair after reading this book.

9. Fix it Yourself Manual, by Reader’s Digest.

10. Upside Up Real Estate Investing, by Bob Zachmeier (teacher of the first real estate class that I took).

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

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Find out in my latest article.

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House Buying Negotiating Techniques “Suppose that … “ and “Just one more question …”

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Returning to the topic of negotiating to buy a house, I came across an insightful technique suggested by Bryan Wittenmyer in his book Perpetual Income. Instead of directly making an offer, frame the offer in the least offensive way by saying, “Frank, suppose I gave you $5,000 down for the property, is there any reason why you wouldn’t carry the mortgage?” Wittenmyer says that people are conditioned to say “no,” and with this technique, the answer you want is “no,” but “no” means “yes.” This is a very non-threatening way to present your offer because all you are doing is just proposing a possibility, not making an offer.

I don’t consider myself an expert in negotiating, like Donald Trump.


However, I do know that if you offend the seller in any way, he will not sell to you even if you make a good offer. If the seller’s pride is offended by an offhand comment like “this house is worn out and needs a lot of work,” you have just criticized a place he has lived in and maintained the best he could for the last 20 years. You can forget about buying that house.

I still remember a disparaging comment that someone make about a house that I was selling in 2002. I overheard a guy tell his wife “this one is a loser.” Steam came out my ears. Having spent the last 8 weeks fixing that house up, I thought it was in pretty good shape, so I took his comment personally. You don’t easily forget it when someone offends you (whether real or imagined).

The “suppose that” technique is a perfect fit with the Lt. Columbo, “and just one more question” technique that Fixer Jay DeCima described in an earlier post.

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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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