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Book review: Make money with condominiums and townhouses

It might seem hard to get excited about a book called Make Money with Condominiums and Townhouses, given that it was published in 2003. Since then, the financial media has given tremendous attention to all the high-rises in markets like Miami and Las Vegas that left investors and home owners with enormous losses, troubled home owners associations and a glut of competition.

But in this no-nonsense, "get rich slowly" introduction to condos as an investment class, veteran real estate investor and author Gary Eldred offers a commonsense counterpart to both the hype and the doom and gloom and shows how condos can be a great investment opportunity for those of us who don't have the time or inclination to manage a single-family home or small apartment building as an investment property.

In this book, you'll learn the ins and outs of evaluating a home owner's association, picking complexes with strong upside and attracting good tenants. Eldred argues that condominiums are likely to attract a better than average quality tenant because the rules and restrictions associated with being part of an HOA drive away people who like to have loud parties and leave junked cars in the driveway.

But what about all the people who've lost money with condos in overheated markets? Eldred writes that "In nearly every case, the majority of condo buyers and investors who have lost money have been those who were carried away by condo mania. They paid no attention to cash flows. They played the game of speculative appreciation. In contrast, long-term owners nearly always have come out ahead."

Well-managed condominiums in markets with good upside still represent a compelling investment opportunity and, if you believe Eldred, one with better upside and less risk than the stock market. The good news for prospective investors is that the same pessimism that has made condos extremely affordable in many parts ot the country has also made this book quite the bargain: You can get it used on Amazon.com for one penny plus shipping.

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