Real Estate Page Turners


One thing is constant about the world of real estate, it’s forever changing.

Interest in the real estate market continues to grow, thanks in large part to real estate-based reality television programs, which provide more glimpses into this world than ever before. While the shows typically glamorize the lives of those who work in the business, focusing largely on those living the high life, making it in the volatile world of real estate is usually another thing altogether.

Today in the Hamptons, there are many well-heeled foreigners entering the market and buying up high-end property. But what about those Americans who wish to purchase real estate outside of the United States?

“How to Buy Real Estate Overseas” by Kathleen Peddicord helps satisfy the curiosity of those who wish to venture outside the States. The book provides practical advice on how to enjoy the unique benefits and avoid the pitfalls of investing in foreign real estate.

Foreign real estate represents a potentially worthwhile opportunity for both investors who want to move a portion of their wealth abroad and for retirees looking for affordable living options. In the book, Ms. Peddicord explains the ideas of diversification, asset protection and safe havens for wealth via foreign real estate.

Consider that foreign property is a hard asset that, unlike stocks, for example, can’t go bankrupt and collapse to zero, the author writes. The book does also contain warnings about buying in areas that suffer from “geopolitical risk,” i.e., a revolution or some other disaster that could make property worthless and possibly make Americans “unwelcome” by a new government.

Ms. Peddicord, an American, has invested in real estate in 18 countries, established businesses in seven, renovated historic properties in six and educated her children in four.

For those still wondering why the real estate market crashed in the first place, “Other People’s Money, Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made” by Charles V. Bagli can shed some light.

The New York Times reporter who first broke the story of the sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village takes readers inside the most spectacular failure in real estate history, using this single deal by Tishman Speyer and its partner, BlackRock, as a lens to see how and why the real estate crisis happened.

Questions raised and answered include: How did the so-called smartest people in real estate lose billions in one single deal? How did the Church of England, the California public employees’ pension fund, and the Singapore government lose more than $1 billion combined investing in a middle-class housing complex in New York City? How did MetLife make $3 billion on the deal without any repercussions from a historically racist policy of housing segregation? And how did nine residents of a sleepy enclave in New York win one of the most unlikely lawsuits in the history of real estate law?

The book also explains the current recession through first-person accounts. It discusses the so-called bubble and why it burst. This is not a sexy read but a very informative one.

What might be of particular interest to East Enders, “Saving the Family Cottage” by attorneys David Fry and Stuart Hollander, is a basic guide to succession planning for cottages, cabins, camps or vacation homes.

This practical book is for anyone with kids and a beach house. It provides information on how to keep a vacation home in the family for generations to come.

Chapters cover such important issues as how to allocate control between and within generations of owners, figuring which estate-planning entity is best and whether or not to establish an endowment. Best of all, it’s written in plain English. It has numerous real-world examples and stories from the cottage wars trenches about vacation home plans gone awry.

If nothing else, the book explains the importance of why parents and grandparents should make their wishes clear when it comes to the future of family property long before it’s too late. Putting things in writing only helps.

For the female real estate reader, there’s “Nothing Down for Women” by Robert G. Allen and Karen Nelson-Bell.

Making big claims that this is the “only book” a woman needs to get started “winning, and winning big,” in the real estate game, the authors cover such issues as buying a house without putting any of your own money down, buying a house without a loan, spotting the motivated seller and how to manage your property “without fear.”

The authors provide scripts for talking to buyers and sellers, templates for writing a great sales ad, methods for doing quick-and-easy financial calculations and handy checklists of to-dos. They also reveal what they term “women’s advantages” in the real estate world and how busy women can fit the steps for real estate success into their hectic schedules.

For a real insider’s look, there’s “The Art of Selling Real Estate” by Patricia Cliff, a senior vice president at The Corcoran Group.

Unlike most other how-to real estate books, Ms. Cliff spends considerable time emphasizing that a successful career in real estate requires long-term planning and sacrifice. There are no overnight successes here as she argues as it is not the get-rich-quick business many mistakenly believe it is.

With real-world insight the author explains how forces such as the internet and real estate-based television shows have changed how people view property buying. She also covers items such as how to hold a successful open house, identifying real estate trends, how to negotiate commissions, and the necessity of possessing good interpersonal and marketing skills.

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