7 Essential RE Investing Books

The best way to learn how to invest in real estate is to get into an actual deal as soon as you possibly can. Beg, borrow, or steal to make it happen and you’ll learn more that you ever wanted to know about how it all works. But once you’ve done that, you may start to wonder if there’s a better way to do things. That’s when these top real estate investing books become truly essential tools of the trade.

The 7 Best Real Estate Investing Books for 2020

1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

What’s a 1949 book about the stock market doing on this list? This is one of Warren Buffett’s favorite books and the one he credits most frequently for putting him on the path to success. The read can be a grind at times since it was written in a different era, but its core lessons about value investing for the long-haul are 100% applicable to rental property investing. Pay particular attention to the sections about “defensive investor principles” and why “price matters.” Both concepts are essential components of a long term strategy that will see you through the ups and downs of the market cycle.

For a more detailed analysis of what Benjamin Graham can teach us about real estate investing, check out Douglas Dowell’s quick analysis.

2. What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow by Frank Gallinelli

Academics don’t often write bestselling books about real estate investment, but Columbia University professor Frank Gallinelli did. Now in its third edition, this essential reference book makes numbers come to life. If you’re intimidated by the mysterious workings of discounted cash flows, internal rates of return, and net present value, you won’t be after reading this book.

Running the numbers properly and gleaning the correct insights from your calculations are core analytical skills that separate the casual hobbyist from the serious investor.

Which one do you want to be?

3. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

If you can set aside the cacophony of noise and debate around one of the most popular personal finance books of all time, you just might get something valuable out of Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Who cares that the “rich dad” may be a creation of Kiyosaki’s imagination? Who cares that technically an asset doesn’t have to generate income to have value? It’s exactly this type of creative license that has encouraged millions of budding entrepreneurs to think differently about how they approach work, money, and investing.

Just remember, the book is mostly a parable designed to challenge your thinking, inspire, and motivate you to action. It’s most definitely not a “how-to” or step-by-step guide to building wealth.

4. The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner

It takes guts to start the title of your book with the phrase, “The book on…“. That implies that it’s some sort of definitive guide to the subject matter and perhaps even the only book you’ll need. Fortunately for many DIY rental property owners, Turner’s tome comes damn close to meeting that promise.

This book is chock full of hands-on practical advice culled from years of experience buying, running, and selling rental properties of all stripes. Turner is honest and direct about nearly every aspect of his experience and doesn’t sugarcoat what it’s actually like to invest in real estate. Part reality-check, part practical how-to guide, this is the book for anyone who prefers to know the pool temperature before diving in.

5. Bubble in the Sun by Christopher Knowlton

We threw this one on the list to keep things interesting and remind you that booms and busts have always been part of the real estate landscape. This fascinating and true tale of how Florida embraced developers and a new suburban lifestyle in the 1920s still echoes today. It’s also a sober reminder of the environmental costs of out-of-control development and unchecked excess.

More than anything, Bubble in the Sun is a highly entertaining read packed with prohibition-era nightlife, larger-than-life real estate moguls, devastating hurricanes, and the vast wildness of the Everglades.

It’s all true too!

6. The Real Estate Game by William Poorvu

Read too many practical how-to books about real estate investing and you’re likely to lose sight of the big picture. That’s when Harvard Business School professor Poorvu steps in and brings everything back into focus for you.

First published in 1999, this is not a new book, but its emphasis on people and impossible-to-control market variables still ring true. If you’re convinced you can make a fortune in real estate by following someone else’s script, this book will set you straight.

7. The Book on Tax Strategies for the Savvy Real Estate Investor by Amanda Han and Matthew Macfarland

Never write-off your kids, unless of course you’re talking to the IRS.

It’s no secret that real estate investing is a tax-advantaged way to make money. That was true long before we had a self-proclaimed real estate mogul in the White House. We expect it will be true long after as well.

So you might as well learn all the intricacies of maximizing your tax deductions sooner rather than later. You’ll also pick up creative ideas to keep your accounting current without driving yourself crazy and reliable ways to avoid an audit. There’s no better book for real estate investors who want to nail their taxes every time.

Bonus: How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

Everyone from fix-and-flippers to architecture fans and software developers find something to appreciate in this smart treatise about adaptation. Read this and you’ll never forget that underneath each and every real estate deal is a living breathing structure built for a specific purpose. Kevin Kelly, a co-founder of Wired magazine, counts this unconventional book among his favorites of all time.