Book Review: Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat (BRRRR) by David Greene


Looking to start investing in real estate as part of your portfolio? You might be considering picking up David Greene’s Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat. BRRRR for short.

I knew that after I paid off my debt I would need to have a bigger plan. So I thought about my options and decided I needed better investment education.

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon exactly this book.  Maybe I got the title from another author I was reading.  Maybe I was just browsing Amazon’s books, or Audible’s books.  I’m not entirely sure.

I do know that after my first couple of business/inspiration books on lifestyle creation, I decided that I wanted to only pursue similar non-fiction through hard copy books that I could re-read, view charts and diagrams, jot down notes and follow-up questions, and so on.

So many times while listening to some books, I ran into the problem of wanting to reference a certain part of the book but couldn’t just casually flip to a certain page or chapter.  I found this frustrating, and for that reason I ended up buying this book as a hard copy.

I’m certainly glad I did since the author used a lot of examples with tables to illustrate scenarios.  This made it easy for me to reference the math and see what the author was trying to explain.

Why I Decided to Read BRRRR

Kyle and I can anticipate having an extra $1,500 per month extra in our pockets after our debt is paid off.   We could absolutely spend a lot of that money each month—our list of wants is practically endless.  We could easily spend the extra money on vacations, hobbies, furniture, and so on, ad nauseum, forever.

But we know that the thing we want more than we want any of that is our time.  Our time has become precious to us.  We’ve started developing this dream of traveling in an RV full time. It would cost us about the same or a little less than what we spend right now to live our current lifestyle.

We could work remotely full time to achieve this, sure. But we prefer the idea of having passive income to sustain us. The more we study real estate, the more it seems like the right kind of investment.

And that leads me to my decision to check out this book.  We’re pretty sure we prefer investing in real estate since it offers the ability to retire in 10-20 years. We just have to be willing to put the time in up front.

I figured that the time we spend paying down debt can be doubly useful if I also spend the time learning what I can about investment options and strategies.

What’s in the Book

BRRRR is a real estate strategy that stresses buying a property upfront with cash. Only after increasing the value of the property should you try to pull money back out through financing.

This strategy is a bit different from the typical strategy of saving for a down payment (and maybe also saving for rehab costs), then financing up front. BRRRR allows you to then pull the dollars you invested into the deal back out of the house. That in turn allows you to reinvest those dollars, preventing you from having to save up for another down payment. And then another. And another.

You might guess that this method means it would take a lot longer to get started.  If you are buying a house for $100,000, you could spend a year saving up for the $20,000 down payment, or you could save up for five years to pay full price for the house.

Yes, that is a huge difference in time. But you’d be able to immediately get that money back out of the property and reinvest it. When you repeat this over many properties, you gain momentum faster.  Over time, if you are buying properties correctly, you can overtake the traditional investor method of financing upfront by recycling your investment dollars.  This is the crux of the BRRRR method—the efficiency of your investment dollars.

Buying the BRRRR Way

After introducing the concept, Greene talks about how to look for deals. And then, how to determine if the deal will bring in an income each month (whether it will cashflow properly).  He also provides some general rules of thumb to help you save time on your search.

One of the key takeaways Greene repeats over and over is that in every part of your business you should be looking to understand what the person across from you needs or wants out of your business relationship.  In the case of buying, you are looking for sellers who are motivated to get out of their properties quickly, and you are providing that out by paying all cash for the property.  This theme is repeated throughout the book, and I found it incredibly useful each step of the way. Time is also spent helping you understand how your partner in this part of the process is thinking—in this case, your real estate agent.

Rehabbing the BRRRR Way

After you successfully purchase a property, Greene walks you through how to work on your rehab. This includes some helpful tips for working with contractors, who have a reputation for being flakey.  He helps you understand how you should be asking for quotes. And, he teach you how to analyze whether you’re receiving a fair price for the work you need. Greene spends a lot of time explaining why it’s important to ask for a full breakdown of labor and materials.

Honestly, this was something I’d already experienced and figured out before.  When I was planning my wedding, our caterer gave us a lump sum total without providing a detailed estimate of our costs.  I asked for the breakdown, and when I reviewed it, I saw that the numbers were off. That the caterer was overcharging us by almost a thousand dollars! It’s easy to miss these things if you aren’t double checking the numbers.

This was probably the one good piece of information in the book that I didn’t feel I needed. I was taught from a very young age to shop for value over just price. (Thanks, Mom, for all those grocery trips!) As with the rest of the book, he spent some time helping you understand what contractors want out of your business relationship. He gave helpful tips to making your life easier when working with contractors, including providing incentives to having your jobs completed on time.

Rent

When your property is fixed, this is when you get to start renting the property out.  Joy!  This is the part of the process where you get to see some return on your investment via cash flow and equity.

As recently as two years ago, I had no idea what equity was. So I just want to explain it for anyone else who has never purchased property and doesn’t know.  Simply put, it’s the difference between how much the property is worth and how much you owe.  If a property is worth $100,000 and you have a mortgage on it of $80,000, then you have $20,000 in equity.

In other words, if you sold that house you’d walk away with $20,000 in your pocket.

This portion of the book spends a lot of time talking about how to work effectively with property managers, including how to interview them effectively to find good ones.  This is where the relationship portion of the section is spent—on property managers instead of on renters.  I think it goes without saying that you should treat your renters well. But you have to find the balance between treating them well and keeping them from walking all over you.

A good property manager is an important piece of my investment strategy. Remember that my goal is to have passive income. Property managers are the key to that. So I appreciated the advice on ways to work with and find good property managers. I also loved that he talked about the kinds of systems to set up to make these relationships work the most smoothly.

Refinance

Once your property is correctly cash flowing, you can refinance the property. This pulls your money back out of the deal so you can reinvest it in your next property.  This chapter is primarily spent on helping you understand the types of loans and lenders you can find to help with this process. Greene stresses the importance of getting pre-approval for refinancing before you even buy your first property.

Also, Greene takes you through building relationships with lenders, per his status quo. He helps you understand banking cycles and what banks want out of your relationship. Greene places a lot of focus on how to help a lender see you in a more favorable light.

Repeating the BRRRR Process

Obviously, the beauty of this real estate investment strategy is that it makes repetition smooth and efficient.  This last section of the book helps you understand how to build systems and repeatable processes. The goal is that you run your investments as a business.  While it takes a lot of your personal time in the beginning, you can eventually set up your business to run on auto-pilot, at the point where you are ready to get your time back—at least, that’s my goal.

By having systems and repeatable processes in place, you can spend minimal time on your investments at the point that they’re earning enough for you, and you can enjoy the fruits of your planting.

Takeaways

While I love the concept of BRRRR, I’m guessing it’s much harder to finance a home that’s been purchased than it is to finance upfront. I see this being a big issue in the future.  This is not to say it isn’t possible. But it’s something that I may consider as a future alternative to a traditional method.

The real value in this book is getting a look at how you can start viewing your real estate investments as a true investor. It teaches you to analyze all of the hidden costs to understand the true value each partner on your team brings to you—your agent, contractor, property manager, and lender.

This is also a great book for setting up business systems specifically for landlord investors. It walks you through a lot of useful information about analyzing deals, interviewing the core members of your team, managing those members effectively, and figuring out how to get the most out of your properties.  I absolutely loved this part of the book. I see myself returning to the portions I highlighted over and over again.

Should You Read this Book?

This is a fantastic primer on the BRRRR method of real estate investing. But remember that this is an opinion from someone who has no experience in the field at this point. I can tell you that as a newbie to the BRRRR method, this was written well enough for me to get all the major ideas.

If you’re looking at rental properties as your investment strategy, you should give this book a read. I think that’s true even if you don’t intend to BRRRR.  The business acumen Greene possesses is on display in this book–you can take away a lot from that alone.

For those interested in real estate who aren’t sure exactly what strategy to use, this book will be good for understanding this one particular strategy. I see it helping people to know if the strategy is right for them.

Greene doesn’t go into depth on the benefits of multi-family vs. single family properties—in fact, he focuses almost entirely on single family properties.  He also doesn’t talk much about traditional investing, commercial real estate, trading up, house hacking, or flipping.  This makes sense since the book’s focus is on a different strategy.  So if you’re trying to figure out different strategies, you’ll want to pick up books on those topics separately.

This book digs well into its intended topic, so if you’re interested in learning more about BRRRR, I found this easy to understand and full of insight. I think you would too.

Five stars.

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