7 Books On Real Estate To Read Before Summer’s End
Summer is quickly winding down, but there is still time to pull up a chair, have some iced tea and curl up with a good book. From an architect designing the Chicago World’s Fair to cutthroat billionaires of New York, eccentric characters in the real estate industry make for thrilling and fascinating reads. We put together a list of some of our favorite books to read during your last vacation or during the cozy days of approaching winter.
The Big Short
This iconic book-turned-movie by Michael Lewis has fast become a pop culture explanation of what fueled the Great Recession. When seemingly every financial firm in the country was making wild real estate speculations and playing with subprime mortgages, a small group of financial advisers made big bets against the banks. When the crash eventually happened, these firms made millions while other companies declared bankruptcy. Lewis’ book explains how this group beat the banks while also showcasing how the unchecked nature of Wall Street helped lead to the Global Recession.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses And The Fall Of New York
Robert Moses was one of the greatest American builders and was instrumental in creating 20th century New York. During his time, the master planner Moses developed $27B worth of public works and became a political force with whom few dared to reckon. Through the lens of Moses, Robert Caro’s Pulitzer Prize classic American real estate biography details how cities are built and the powerful men behind them.
The Devil In The White City
Erik Larson tells the story of Chicago’s World Fair through the lens of Daniel Hudson Burnham, one of the architects instrumental in the design and creation of the attraction. The book pairs Burnham’s story with that of a serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims, particularly young women, to their deaths. The story provides an in-depth account of how the fair came to be and how even the best intentions could lead to a tragedy.
Death And Life Of Great American Cities
Jane Jacobs’ quintessential book argues that modern city planning and development is failing cities. She explains how poor planning creates and sustains slums, cultural centers that cannot support bookstores, retail centers with boring chain stores and how infrastructure without thought does not help build up a city. This book is a good starting point for an architect starting his or her career or a longtime developer frustrated with the triteness of city planning.
Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga Of How One Building Broke The World’s Toughest Tycoons
Vicky Ward details the history of the General Motors Building in New York through the eyes of a cast of lively and eccentric characters who were lucky enough to own the building at one time. Through 200 interviews, she explores the history of the building while also revealing the darker side of real estate and capitalism where cutthroat business dealings take center stage in the ongoing race to own a piece of this iconic building. The cast of characters in this book include Harry Macklowe, Sam Zell, Mort Zuckerman and even President Donald Trump.
Triumph Of The City
Urban economist Edward Glaser calls cities humans' greatest invention and his book debunks myths that cities are dirty, poor and unhealthy. Glaser explains how cities are beacons for innovation and sustainability and offer strong economies and rich cultures. While many cities like New York are no longer the manufacturing stalwarts they once were, creating a place where innovation and highly educated talent can thrive has helped prop these cities up. Not all cities are meant to succeed, and this book also goes through the failure of cities like Detroit and how these cities eventually lost touch.
Other People's Money
Charles V. Bagli reveals the history of MetLife’s iconic Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village in New York. It made headlines when Tishman Speyer and its partner, BlackRock, purchased the 11,000-unit property for $6.3B in 2006 using funds from insurance companies, sovereign funds and pension funds. Two years later, the property was worth $1.9B and would later fall into default. Bagli tells the story of how Tishman Speyer and BlackRock came away clean after this deal and MetLife made a $3B profit, while others lost millions.