Picks and Pans Review: Housewise

updated 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Suzanne Brangham

The author is a housewife who adds new meaning to the word "homemaker." In 1972 Brangham invested $9,600 to renovate a dilapidated San Francisco condominium and sold it six months later, pocketing a $23,000 profit. She reinvested that and turned another profit, then another and another. Having bought and sold 70 polished properties, Brangham, 44, tells how she did it in this book, subtitled The Smart Woman's Guide to Buying and Renovating Real Estate for Profit. This is not a guide to getting rich while lolling in your Barcalounger. A successful career in real estate renovation calls for hustle, chutzpah and a lust for deal-making, all of which seem to bubble within Brangham like a natural spring. With damn-the-interest-rates vigor, she charges through such foreign terrain as lease-options, wraparound mortgages and amortization. She advises on how to pick your first property (look for the worst in the best part of town), how to calculate your top bid, how to scout a neighborhood, what to ask, when to buy and how to negotiate a deal. Chapters on renovation lead readers from demolition (rip out walls and add skylights to open up cramped, gloomy spaces) to decoration (dress up exteriors with window boxes or shutters). If you plan to resell, focus on improving bathrooms, closets and kitchens; hot tubs and bidets are unnecessary additions. And don't let your passion for persimmon dictate your choice of appliances; neutral is what sells. In 279 pages, Brangham, a single mother who now has homes in San Francisco, London and the Sonoma Valley, has produced a useful blueprint for those enterprising women (and men too) whose goal is to make a house someone else's home. (Potter, $18.95)

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