Best ways to add real estate value

When I first picked up “Confessions of a Real EstateEntrepreneur” by James A. Randel, I wasn’t enthused by its bland,noncreative cover, which makes the book look dull and boring. Wrong. Instead,it is one of the best real estate books of 2006 so far because it tells how asuper-successful investor evaluates real estate opportunities.

What makes this new book so unusual is the self-deprecatingauthor emphasizes his real estate mistakes as much as the highlights of hissuccesses. The book’s title could have been “Real Estate Mistakes I MadeBut How I Succeeded Anyway.”

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James A. Randel started with an excellent educationalbackground from Columbia University where he obtained his law degree. Then hewisely became a real estate broker so he could participate in real estatecommissions as well as practice law. When briefly mentioning his New York Cityresidency during college years, Randel admits he didn’t spot the opportunitiesto buy run-down buildings near Columbia for upgrade profits by adding value.

The book’s theme is “add value” whether you investin raw land, houses, a fixer-upper factory building with potential for rezoningprofits, or a run-down office building. What makes this book so special are thepersonal stories the author shares, emphasizing how he profited when he (andhis investor partners) added value and how they lost money when their planningwas faulty.

Every college real estate program should require this bookas pre-enrollment reading to open the eyes of students to all the opportunitiesinvolving real estate. Randel recommends specializing in commercial real estatebecause of its higher earnings potential compared to residence sales. But healso suggests related realty fields such as mortgage brokerage and becoming afull-time investor.

Throughout the book, the author shares how he went into manyinvestments with little or no cash of his own but he creatively raised thenecessary financing and cash down payments. One of the best examples came whenRandel bought one of the first factory outlet buildings by borrowing thedown-payment money from the existing tenant who was willing to pay to get outof the lease. Randel then tells how he creatively borrowed the down-paymentcash for one day from a bank until his ex-tenant paid him.

One of the book’s best chapters is about”persuasion.” Most of us would call it “negotiation.” Butthe author says real estate involves looking at transactions from the otherparty’s viewpoint and then persuading that person to do what is mutuallyacceptable.

Randal also explains what it takes to be successful in realestate. In a nutshell, it takes enthusiasm and thick skin to avoid beingdepressed by rejections. He shares lots of personal examples how, when onetactic didn’t work, he tried others until one worked.

Chapter topics include “Learning to Add Value”;”Possibilities”; “The Basics; Options”; “Contractswith Contingencies”; “Development”; “Revitalizing ExistingProperties”; “A Complete Makeover”; “Other Mistakes I’veMade”; “Buying Wholesale, Selling Retail”; “The Next NewGreat Idea”; “Brokerage”; “Leases and Other Property Interests”;”Other People’s Money”; “Finding Deals”; “When You’rea Seller”; “Attorneys”; “The Art of Persuasion”; and”Success Skills.”

If you are or want to be a serious and successful realestate investor, this is a “must read” book. Don’t be turned off byits bland cover, as I was. Hidden under that shell is one of the best realestate investment books I’ve ever read. On my scale of one to 10, this uniquebook rates an off-the-chart 12.

“Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur,” byJames A. Randel (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2006, $29.95, 256 pages; Available instock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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