William Nickerson - Posted by Pachel

Posted by GL(ON) on July 05, 2002 at 21:18:17:

Do you remember if they were meant for the professional or amateur investor?

I’m not saying they weren’t meant for the general public, just that Nickerson’s is the first one I know of.

By the way have you ever heard of Robert W. Kent of Boston? He wrote a book called “How To Get Rich In Real Estate” (Copyright 1961). It’s the second oldest example of the genre I have.

Guess how he did it? “By purchasing cheap and overlooked properties - painting and repairing them inexpensively - and renting them out to low income tenants” (quote from dust jacket).

Now there’s an idea!

William Nickerson - Posted by Pachel

Posted by Pachel on July 04, 2002 at 19:48:38:

What is the William Nickerson method of investing? Is it basically rehabbing then doing progressively larger rehabs?
Could you briefly describe his other methods if he had any?

Thanks a lot

Re: William Nickerson - Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA)

Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA) on July 05, 2002 at 15:24:52:


You have captured his system in a brief description. The only addition I would make is that he did not believe in selling the properties. He advised doing 1031 tax-deferred exchanges to preserve your capital.

Please also see my response to the GL (ON)'s reply to your post.

Good Investing**********Ron Starr**************

Re: William Nickerson - Posted by GL(ON)

Posted by GL(ON) on July 04, 2002 at 21:21:08:

William Nickerson wrote the first book on real estate investing for the amateur. It was published in 1959 and remained in print until 1982.

He bought his first house about 1934.Two years later he made his first investment in rentals. He traded the house for a run down duplex.

The thing that sparked this venture was an experience he had when he was first married.He and his wife rented a cheap, shabby apartment from a widow who couldn’t afford to maintain her building. With the help of his wife’s brother they redecorated and made such an improvement that the landlady hired the brother, a painter, to decorate all her apartments. She then raised the rent from $6 a month to $12. When she went to raise the Nickerson’s rent to $10 (after all they had done their own work, and given her an idea that more than doubled her net income) they rebelled and bought their own place.

This put the idea in his head that real estate was a good investment, especially if you could increase the value by improvements.

It took 3 years to save up $1000 to buy their own home. They traded it 2 years later for a duplex.After they fixed up the duplex they traded it for a bigger aparment house. They went on this way for some years, trading up to bigger (but shabbier) buildings, fixing them up to increase the value, then doing it again.

All this time he worked for the phone company. He recalls discussing his investments with a co-worker and saying “I’m shooting for a side income of $100 a month when I retire”.

In fact he retired when he realized his income from his rentals was so much greater than his job that he didn’t need the job. This was 17 years after they started saving for that first house.

After a trip around the world, they returned to San Francisco. At this point a lot of friends and relatives wanted to be let in on the “big secret”. So he wrote a book.

No publisher would touch it. They said “You got lucky and rode inflation up from the depression. No one will ever be able to do that again”. (At this time apartments in California rented for $50 a month and a brand new house was $7000).

To prove the man wrong he went out and in 2 years bought enough undervalued real estate to double his net worth. This convinced the publisher, and also improved the title of the book:

“How I Turned $1000 Into A Million In Real Estate - In My Spare Time”

Re: William Nickerson - Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA)

Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA) on July 05, 2002 at 15:04:40:


I enjoyed your essay and feel you gave the poster a good answer.

A couple of other things.

When William Nickerson died, Lucille, his wife having predeceased him, he owned one investment property. It is in downtown Oakland, CA, the La Peralta Apartments. I counted 95 apartments plus a few commercial units on the first floor. He had owned it since at least 1968, so you can imagine the cash flow on it. Maybe $60K to $90K a MONTH.

I think he lived where I do, in Oakland, not San Franscisco. He retired down to Carmel, on the CA coast and died there about three years ago.

He had only the one system that he taught. But that was enough.

Actually, there were some other books written for real estate investors before his. I have one from 1927 and another from the 1940s, if I recall correctly.

However, he was the first best-selling real estate investment author. And he started doing some seminars in which he was joined by Albert Lowery, who also invested here in Oakland. Later Albert Lowery went out on his own.

They showed the potential for making money from people who wanted to invest in real state. So, in that sense, Bill Nickerson is the “father” of the America real estate guru marketplace. I suspect he would dislike a lot of what it is like now, as he apparently was a straight-shooter.

Good Investing and Good Posting*****Ron Starr

Re: William Nickerson - Posted by GL(ON)

Posted by GL(ON) on July 05, 2002 at 15:57:11:

I have some older real estate books too. But they are all for professional hotel managers, the property management department in a bank and the like.

Nickerson’s book was the first one directed towards “the average person with average ability, average savings and average luck” who wished to become a millionaire.

If there are any I haven’t heard of I would like to know about them.

Practically all the information I have on him comes from his books. I have all of them except “My Odessey Around Three Worlds”.

Re: William Nickerson - Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA)

Posted by Ronald * Starr(in No CA) on July 05, 2002 at 17:32:32:

Glen L–(ON)------------------

Well, as I say, I have a couple of real estate investment books aimed at potential investors. One from 1927, the other is in the 1940s, I believe.

I suppose now I will have to look over my shelves of real estate books so I tell you what they are. I don’t have a computerized catalog, you know. Like you, I am a compulsive saver of real estate investment books.

Good InvestingRon Starr***