Book Review: “Investing for Good”

Do you imagine making investments that allow you someday to receive income while you sleep, do good for others, and do anything you feel like with your time? That’s the premise of Investing for Good: The Surprising Strategy for Building Wealth While Also Making an Impact, a recent book on how to invest in real estate syndications and create a path to financial freedom–while providing sound housing options for others.

The founders and principals of Goodegg Investments, Julie Lam and Annie Dickerson, wrote a book on their approach to passive real estate investing. The duo has long personal histories in real estate investing, starting with single-family style landlording and house-hacking. Over time, Lam and Dickerson decided to move into the field of real estate syndications. Today, they run a firm that offers individual investors the opportunity to invest alongside them and others in multi-family real estate syndications.

In Investing for Good, Lam and Dickerson lay out the case for this style of investing for individuals and families who wish to do well while doing good in the world. That’s pretty much the premise of this blog! Lam and Dickerson argue that not only is it possible, it’s not that complicated.

The best part of the book, in the eyes of this reviewer, was the 10-year plan that they lay out for a prospective investor. Without promising any specific returns–they use plenty of appropriate caveats!–Lam and Dickerson propose that an investor make one investment per year over a ten year period. At the end of that time-period, they show–using made up numbers, of course–that the investor could have a passive income stream sufficient to support their family as well as chunk of money in real estate investments for the long term.

A critic of this approach might say that it sounds well and good, but it’s expensive to get started in these types of syndications. People who work in non-profits may not easily be able to come up with the $50,000 per year that Lam and Dickerson suggest you invest in their 10-year plan for syndications. That’s true enough; the entry point is steep compared, say, to stock, mutual fund, bond, public REIT, or crowdsourced real estate investments.

The topic of helping others does come up in the book, but it’s a topic hit only glancingly. Their argument is that certain types of real estate syndications–the sort they offer at Goodegg Investments–can provide good quality housing. That seems true enough; it’s in the eye of the investor to determine whether that’s sufficient social return on investment for you.

Bottom line: Investing for Good is a terrific overview of passive investing in real estate syndications. The writing is jaunty, easy to read, and offers a compelling narrative.

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