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

The City in the Twenty-First Century
Written by: Peter Hendee Brown
Narrated by: Chaz Allen
Length: 10 hrs and 37 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 33.54
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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

What the critics say

"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)

What members say

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  • Tristan
  • 2016-08-20

"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.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • DANIEL HEISLER
  • 2016-07-18

Development

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

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  • Denaeisawesome
  • 2016-07-17

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • D.Esigner
  • 2016-06-15

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark McClure
  • 2019-03-17

great insight

As someone passionate about the real estate industry the stories in the book were very insightful and inspiring. My only complaint is the narrator, although decent, voice was very one dimensional. This caused me at times to start focusing on other things and he was lost in the background.

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  • Kevin W. Ford
  • 2019-03-09

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

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  • Irina Sh
  • 2019-02-08

Overall it's pretty good story.

if you are in the real estate business you will likely to skip to the last two chapters that are really unfolding how the developers thinks. I listened all and appreciate that audible as new way of learning... it's time well received. thank you for making this!

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  • rob
  • 2018-09-25

pretty good

there are a lot of varying reviews of this book and I thought it was pretty good. i am an architect and was interested in the topic of development and how develipers think. this book thoroughly examines exactly what it sets out to talk about. it was interesting to hear how their careers developed and how the work of the best developers benefited themselves, investors, the city, amd local residents. this book will teach and explain some key principles and deep reasons people are interested in this profession. it is not a guide to becoming a developer and does not claim to be. if you are determined to be anti-developer, this book will not change your mind. it does offer a lot of insight for local residents, though, about how to work with developers for the most positive result.

the reader is one of the worst ever of audible. he mis-pronounces nearly every name in the book and many of the key development terms. chaz, philippe starck is from france. his name is pronounced fi-leep. if you are going to keep performing the readings on technical subjects, please start by spellchecking the book. the words that pop up will be unusual technical words and names. then look those up and learn how they are pronounced. i guarantee there is news footage on youtube of starck, hadid, and nouvel's names being pronounced. it is really distracting to hear words pronounced incorrectly every two minutes.

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  • DK
  • 2018-08-24

Best suited for Real Estate Developers

I'm not planning to develop any real estate any time soon. However, I was hoping to learn about real estate development to improve my overall understanding of real estate. I made it all the way through, but it was a struggle. It was educational, but I was bored. Some of the stories were interesting, but the complexities were hard to follow in the book format. I'm not likely to recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Taylor Silj
  • 2018-03-31

great info

great info, best I've listened to so far. I was impressed with the depth of info