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101 of 112 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No `magic' here, just misrepresentation!, 19 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Property Magic 2010: How to Buy Property Using Other People's Time, Money and Experience (Paperback)
Although this book focuses purely on the UK market, so it is more relevant to a UK investor than other books on real estate, if you have already read your Robert Kiyosaki and Dolf De Roos, you will already know the difference between an asset and a liability and that you should only buy properties at below market value (BMV), so that makes about 70% of the book redundant. As for the UK-specifics, these are explained in more detailed in other books.

Please also note that this book is only 136 pages long, and the last 30 pages are essentially advertising for the author's course (with more of the same interspersed throughout the book). Basically, much of what you pay for is advertising.

Does it at least deliver the goods it offers on the cover? If it did, one wouldn't mind the advertising, or the redundant repetition. On the cover it says:

"2010 and beyond revised edition. How to buy property using other people's time, money and experience."

If you are an experienced investor you will already know about the day-1 remortgage deals that USED to be available from Mortgage Express - and you will also know those deals were withdrawn way back in 2008. So I bought this book as a bet more than anything else, because I had every reason to believe it would not deliver what it promises. Unsurprisingly, I was right.

After pointing out that the day-1 remortgage cannot be done any more, the author suggests earth-shattering alternatives (not) such as:

1) Remortgaging one's other properties to raise a deposit (if you already have a portfolio chances are you built it by remortgaging, so you don't need this book to tell you about it!)
2) Digging into personal savings or hidden assets (but hang on, that's YOUR money, isn't it?)
3) Asking someone who is planning to leave you some money when they die to gift you the money now (which is both presumptuous and in a very bad taste, not to mention the fact that they will probably need it themselves while they are alive. Plus, one's inheritance-to-be is not other people's money!)
4) Doing a joint venture whereby you put in your time and expertise and someone else puts in the money (but hang on, people who have money to invest are not stupid; chances are they will buy a property in their own name and have it professionally managed; it's much cheaper than doing a JV with YOU!)

So, to claim this book shows "How to buy property using other people's time, money and experience" in "2010 or beyond" is a misrepresentation.

Additionally there's nothing in this book for the experienced investor. Nothing, nada, zilch!

Does it at least offer something of value to the newbie? Yes and no. I mean, yes, it does offer, very briefly (remember, it's a very short book) some of the nuts and bolts, but IMHO it also mixes in some very dangerous advice (see below). This is worrying because a newbie may not be able to distinguish between the two, taking both at face value.

To maximise the cash flow that can be obtained from a property the author advises multi-occupancy lets, i.e. HMO's, even to newbies!! What he sadly forgets to mention is that:

1) with HMO's you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel and attracting the least desirable type of tenants
2) many lenders don't allow HMO's, and those who do may charge you a higher interest rate
3) in addition to the possible need of becoming a licensed landlord (which the book does mention) the rules, which already involve considerable outlay and red tape, are undergoing further tightening
4) there are experienced landlords such as myself who would not touch HMO's with a barge pole because of the additional pitfalls they entail, so why recommend this type of investment to a newbie??

Yet, recommend it he does. There is a section entitled "First-time buyer multi-let strategy". Now, THAT is a recipe for disaster!

The only reason I could imagine for anyone to encourage a newbie to become involved in multiple lets would be to sell them a property (or a `deal') which would not stack up as a single self-contained unit - in other words, a lemon.

Also worth pointing out is that most of the case histories in the book are very dated and relate to deals that are no longer available in today's mortgage market (as already mentioned above). Worse still, some of the deals we are supposed to be awed by actually don't stack up in my book (and shouldn't stack up in the author's either, if he were consistent).

For example, in the good old days of 85% LTV BTL mortgages Susan Alexander (who attended a Property Mastermind Programme) paid a finder's fee for the privilege of buying a property at an alleged 20% discount. The property was allegedly worth £110,000 but she was lucky enough to have it offered to her (for a fee) at a paltry £88,000, which she cleverly reduced (after paying a surveyor for a valuation) to £86,400. Sounds like the bargain of the century, doesn't it? But wait a minute, she says the rent she agreed on it was only £440 per month, and she reckons `in time this will break even." But hang on, Zutshi has been preaching that you should never, ever, ever buy a property that does not give you a positive cash flow from day 1, and then he goes and sells `deals' like this where the buyer isn't even breaking even? Hardly an endorsement for his Property Mastermind Programme. You don't need to be a mastermind to find a better deal than that!! For a property that doesn't even fetch £500 a month, a savvy investor would not have paid more than £80,000 (tops), even in a buoyant market. And to claim that she had £13,500 in equity after paying £86,400 for it (plus a fat `finder's fee') is, frankly, delusional poppycock.

In conclusion, in terms of usefulness, this book serves neither the experienced investor not the newbie, rather it falls between stools with a loud thump - and there it should mercifully rest - as in R.I.P.

This book may, however, be useful to Mr Zutshi if it will bring him complete beginners who are eager to pay him finder's fees for such ridiculously poor deals.

If Mr Zutshi is such a `magician' with property, which he claims still to be able to buy with no money of his own (although he does not tell us how), then what is he doing running up and down the country running `meetings' and courses, instead of looking after his properties and adding more to his portfolio, since property is where the real money is?

This list below is from his website (...):

* Southampton - meetings 1st Tuesday of the month
* Worcester - meetings 1st Wednesday of the month
* Cardiff - meetings 2nd Tuesday of the month
* Bristol - meetings 2nd Wednesday of the month
* Watford - meetings 2nd Thursday of the month
* Nottingham - meetings 3rd Tuesday of the month
* Manchester - meetings 3rd Wednesday of the month
* Birmingham - meetings 3rd Thursday of the month
* London - meetings 4th Tuesday of the month
* Leeds - meetings 4th Wednesday of the month
* Cambridge - meetings 4th Thursday of the month

And these are just the monthly meetings! Much more time (presumably the rest of the month) will be used to cater for the people who sign up to his `Mastermind...' whatever.

I'm sorry Mr Zutshi, but I'm not convinced. Like some of the deals you describe, this doesn't stack up!
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Jul 2011 10:53:35 BDT
Rob LDN says:
Very helpful. Thanks.

Posted on 6 Sep 2011 17:28:51 BDT
That's one detailed review right there.

Posted on 26 Oct 2011 17:20:02 BDT
Thanks for the comprehensive review. Sounds very similar to the introduction to property seminars that are advertised from time to time like the UK branch of Robert Kyosaki's financial franchise.

A+ very useful comments, thanks

Posted on 10 Nov 2011 17:12:33 GMT
H. Zhang says:
Thanks very much for your detailed review. It really gave me a good insight into this book.

Posted on 12 Nov 2011 20:57:41 GMT
I have been in business all my life and only recently got into residential letting. What gets me is that unlike any other business, the residential property world seems to be full of get-rich-quick authors and schemes.

Posted on 6 Dec 2011 13:10:15 GMT
Dog Meadow says:
A very interesting review and you clearly have much insight yourself.
I would find it most helpful if you could recommend some titles which would be informative to someone such as myself who has very little knowledge but is looking for balanced, intelligent information that doesn't self promote the author.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jan 2012 17:48:13 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jan 2012 17:52:20 GMT
Yes, I've heard of the Kiyosaki courses from other people who attended them and also found them very poor. Shame, because Kiyosaki's original message was, and still is, good.

I kid you not, it was after reading Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Poor Dad that I decided to look into property investment in earnest. That is a very good 'mindset' book that helps you understand the basics of money. The ideas are then developed in The Cashflow Quadrant (sometimes called Rich Dad Poor Dad 2), which is a wonderful piece of money psychology illustrating how people structure their lives around money, and how they think depending on where they get their money from. Sounds simple, but it isn't.

So I would strongly recommend reading those two books by Robert Kiyosaki - but steer clear from the 'courses' peddled in his name!!

Kiyosaki's book Conspiracy of the Rich also contains very good information on how to survive the current recession - in fact, profit from it. So that's another book I would recommend.

And I also like Dolf De Roos' Real Estate Riches as it explains how to use equity and refinancing to expand your property portfolio. Shame this is a book geared for the US market, where there are such things as assumable mortgages, so some of the things it describes do not apply here. But the reasons why property is more profitable and safer than other investments are explained very thoroughly in this book, and together with other very valid advice - e.g. being a decent landlord is not only morally and ethically good, but in the long run it is actually good for the landlord - make this a worthwhile book.

I am sorry to say that there is a scarcity of really good residential property investment books aimed at the UK market. I have had to put in some very hard work to adapt what I learnt from American books and make it work here. Sometimes I even wonder if I shouldn't write a book for UK fledgling investors. After 9 years in the business, I have certainly learnt a lot, and have many interesting stories to tell. A future project perhaps?

Posted on 26 Feb 2012 21:56:41 GMT
BK says:
I too started looking for books on property investment after reading Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Thank you for review - it has been invaluable.

Posted on 8 Mar 2012 16:55:59 GMT
Adam Croft says:
I think the author has been misrepresented, as he doesn't sell deals or charge finders fees.

If you speak to Simon, you'll find he's extremely knowledgeable, genuinely interested, and passionate about teaching. He's constantly in the public eye and has to guard his reputation, as everything depends on it.

I believe his portfolio is made up largely of HMO's, which he's done well with and as far as I can see, is only teaching from his own experience.

Why could you not fill a HMO with working professionals, or get good tenants into HMO's?

A joint venture whereby you put in your time and expertise and someone else puts in the money... When Robert Kiyosaki says poor people spend time to save money, where rich people spend money to save time, in Rich Dad, Poor Dad (one of the the books you recommended to somebody else), isn't this exactly the type of thing he was talking about?

"So I bought this book as a bet more than anything else, because I had every reason to believe it would not deliver what it promises. Unsurprisingly, I was right." It sounds like you had already made up your mind as to how good the book was before even reading it.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Mar 2012 22:19:15 BDT
annika says:
what about this book:
"the 44 most closely guarded property secrets" ?
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