A LITTLE BIT OF MADNESS

THE UNWRITTEN RULES OF REAL ESTATE INVESTING

BY ALAN HERD ‧ RELEASE DATE: N/A

“A real estate veteran offers insights from his career.

Herd, who began selling real estate in 1960, compiles the lessons learned in more than five decades of dealing with properties in this debut business book. Opening with a look at the iconic Friars Club and its gradual descent into obscurity, both cultural and physical, the author makes it clear from the start that he is both knowledgeable about the real estate industry and well versed in explaining it in comprehensible language. The volume’s target audience is readers who are already active in the business and are familiar with the fundamentals of property acquisition, real estate finance, and land use regulation—and thus the guide does not spend its time on explaining the basics. Instead, Herd advises readers on developing the right mindset for successfully selling and investing in real estate, understanding the psychology of deal-making, and formulating decisions based on strategy rather than emotions. The book discusses the cyclical nature of real estate, the challenges of knowing which forecasts and predictions should be trusted, and how to avoid making ego-driven decisions while using everyone else’s ego to your advantage. As the author writes, “By the time you finish reading this book, you’ll realize real estate investing has more to do with people than it has to do with real estate.”

Herd’s vast experience in the industry makes the work an informative one, with general concepts often illustrated by stories from his own career. The chapter on agents, in which the author explains how clients can find the best ones for their needs and how agents make their own choices about which people to work with, is particularly well done. The discussion of lawsuits and their ineffectiveness is also strong, shaped by Herd’s past participation in many court proceedings as an expert witness. The book is solidly paced and does a good job of not getting bogged down in the jargon and intricacies of real estate deals while also offering counsel that does more than simply skim the surface. The author’s writing bounces between well-phrased insights (“Observing litigation can be like floating down a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat”) and lines that a strong editor would have removed (“If all the Indians had come over the hill one at a time, Custer would have won at Little Big Horn,” an analogy for addressing actual rather than idealized challenges). An editor would also have fixed the minor but numerous typos and text errors (“old-time’s” instead of old-timers; “Keeping informed is often the a hardest but most important part of any investment activity”). But on the whole, the work is like a genial but demanding coach standing in the inexperienced real estate professionals’ corner, walking them through the fundamentals of negotiation, jumping in to remind them to trust their own judgments, and holding up a hand when they start veering off course. Readers looking for an introduction to buying and selling real estate will have to search elsewhere for an overview of industry basics, but for readers with a robust baseline of knowledge about the business, the manual delivers useful lessons and rules.

A solid guide to making a career in real estate.” —Kirkus Reviews