How Real Estate Developers Think: Design, Profits, and Community

The City in the Twenty-First Century
Narrated by: Chaz Allen
Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (208 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Cities are always changing: streets, infrastructure, public spaces, and buildings are constantly being built, improved, demolished, and replaced. But even when a new project is designed to improve a community, neighborhood residents often find themselves at odds with the real estate developer who proposes it.

Savvy developers are willing to work with residents to allay their concerns and gain public support, but at the same time, a real estate development is a business venture financed by private investors who take significant risks. Peter Hendee Brown explains the interests, motives, and actions of real estate developers, using case studies to show how the basic principles of development remain the same everywhere, even as practices vary based on climate, local culture, and geography.

How Real Estate Developers Think considers developers from three different perspectives. Brown profiles the careers of individual developers to illustrate the character of the entrepreneur; considers the roles played by innovation, design, marketing, and sales in the production of real estate; and examines the risks and rewards that motivate developers as people. Ultimately, How Real Estate Developers Think portrays developers as creative visionaries who are able to imagine future possibilities for our cities and communities and shows that understanding them will lead to better outcomes for neighbors, communities, and cities.

This book is published by University of Pennsylvania Press.

©2015 University of Pennsylvania Press (P)2015 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Brown makes the great point that less conflict and more cooperation should lead to far better buildings and cities that are better places to live and work." ( Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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"All developers are visionaries." Nope.

No rigour went into the production of this book. I suspect its rave reviews may be from people Brown personally asked to rate it. At least one states he met Brown personally. I feel conned.

The book is a series of anecdotes about a few particular developers. Brown makes no attempt to explain why these few cases are representative of other developers, and I would argue they are not. There is no research, no data—no contribution—except a few interviews with some particularly successful developers. The book should be called, “How These Three Guys Think.”

As a planning advocate, I am very familiar with the community v. developer fights Brown describes. At many of those meetings, someone will stand up and rant about an anecdote irrelevant to solving the broader issues at hand. Brown reads like one of those people: “Yeah, well I knew this developer once, and he was a pretty good guy, so…” So what? So nothing.

The introduction lays out a very exciting, necessary goal: to explain the needs of developers so communities can better understand what kinds of demands and criticisms can actually result in a better project. That's a great idea: someone should write that book. It would require, however, actual analysis of development economics and data. It would require figuring out what kind of developments are most common, rather than focusing on a few exceptional buildings. It would require a close-up analysis of actual development controversies from both sides. To uncritically repeat what a few developers told the author fails to accomplish greater understanding.

He writes that “All developers are visionaries.” Nope. This kind of broad-brush statement is no more accurate than criticisms like, “All developers are greedy vampires.” And besides, the book largely misses the point: conflict between developers and community can be so heated because there are structural realities that pit them against each other. That’s why the same fights repeat themselves in cities across North America. It’s not just a matter of understanding each other.

It was only because of the rave reviews that I finished this book. If you’re reading this, I want to warn you not to do the same.

25 people found this helpful

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Development

A good basic overview of the development process and miami developers along with other cities

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I've learned so much from this book!

This book is great I've read through it 3 times this last month. It covers so many areas of development. If you are experienced or new to development you will learn something from this book.

3 people found this helpful

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Well written but too one-sided

Pros: Well written, nice background on many different interesting developments around the country, approachable writing style Cons: Doesn't deliver too much on what it's title says, but is rather just a profile of different developers. I think focusing on the absolute most high end of the market (related, aqua, 1111 Lincoln) is going to come off as a bit out of touch for the average citizen wanting to learn more about working productively with the average developer. The book also asks everything of the community member, to understand the developer, but asks almost nothing of the developer. Lastly, the narrator mispronounced quite a few words which just sounds unprofessional

1 person found this helpful

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informative, concise and enjoyable

I am a civil engineer and i wanted to learn more about developers. This book did an excellent job covering several successful developers and their thought process and strategies for developing land.

1 person found this helpful

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Worth It

Great read. Very informative. Narration was excellent. I really enjoyed the in depth case studies from different developers and their projects ranging as far back as the 1800's to late 2000's. Have several notes and bookmarks throughout.. I will listen to it again for sure.

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Excellent

The most important part of this book is learning how high level investors think. Understanding what determines how high dollar apartments and Hotels demand high dollar customers is paramount.

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An EXTREMELY basic, platitude filled overview

Author is knowledgeable but glosses over facts...great if you have NO understanding of real estate development at all. It does have some value and a few anecdotal tidbits, but not worth the time or treasure. Narration is great at 1.5 speed.

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Critical read

I loved this book. This book is mandatory for any aspiring real estate developer and should be constantly referenced throughout your career.

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Meh

I should've listened to the poor reviews. I regret buying this book. too one-sided.. I couldn't even finish halfway through the book..

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  • Leandro Carvalho
  • 02-13-20

Don’t judge by the title

Initially, I wasn’t expecting much because of the title, but after I started listening I was absorbed by the books’s content, fluid writing and creativity. The research and interviews with several of the most prominent developers in America is fantastic. Highly recommended.

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  • Eliana
  • 04-18-18

Overall good

Good book for a beginner, the series were good and easy to understand I quite enjoyed

1 person found this helpful