WSO's Best Real Estate Books

People ask about the best real estate books to read on this forum almost daily and we're happy to toss Linneman and Bowman their way, as well as all of the terrific ULI books, but @Whats the Comp" today asked specifically about non-textbook reads and it got me thinking that we should build a list of our favorites. Here are mine, in no particular order:

I definitely want to get some new reads for fall though, so please recommend your own.

Comments (47)

Best Response
Aug 9, 2016 - 12:03pm

Good idea. I've read several of those, but I don't think I realized that someone had written a book on Charlie Fraser, he was a good dude.

Now for some additions:

Trammell Crow, Master Builder: The Story of America's Largest Real Estate Empire - (…)

Poorvu's The Real Estate Game (I'm sure people are tired of being recommended this one but just read the damn thing) - (…)

The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti - quick, entertaining read on why some MSAs are succeeding and others not so much. Not necessarily real estate related, but relevant. - (…)

Similar to the above, Triumph of the City is a good read - (

Less real estate, but great literature, A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe - (…)

Non-real estate, but Howard Marks' The Most Important Thing has been a great framework for thinking about markets - (

Aug 9, 2016 - 1:24pm

I'm reading The Real Estate Game (…) per somebody's recommendation on this forum (not the above post, which I didn't see when I wrote this), but I couldn't find the actual thread.

It's a very easy read, and doesn't require prior real estate knowledge. It's very high level, and shares what's proven to be a very effective approach to small-time commercial real estate investing. I'd recommend for sure.
Aug 9, 2016 - 4:11pm

Poorvu's book (BOE method) is how I invest. I check it with a model but it's pretty amazing after a while you'll pretty much know what the IRR will be without doing shit in excel. It is also the reason for my username. Highly recommended.

  • 5
Sep 8, 2016 - 1:38pm

Just breezed through it this past week. Really is an excellent book. My favorite aspect was all of the detailed example questions he throws out when discussing the deals - really opens up your mind to the qualitative aspects that are truly important to each deal. No matter how good the numbers look, if you don't ask the right questions, you will end up making poor investments.

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Aug 10, 2016 - 2:25pm

Jane Jacobs - Death and Life of Great American Cities
- even if you don't agree with her conclusions, her first principles/bottom up approach to urban planning is useful for evaluating the physical real estate
- the intro has a very quick but useful history of city planning (with more reading suggestions)


Edge City by Joel Garreau
- very good insight into the formation of 'edge cities' and the developers who created them
- "The Words" and "The Laws" are great as well


Aug 10, 2016 - 4:47pm

"The Liar's Ball: : The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons" by Vicky Ward. New York real estate focused. Rumor has it the movie is coming soon.

  • 2
Aug 12, 2016 - 11:16pm

The book that opened my eyes to the possibilities of real estate and got my feet wet was "Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur" by James
A Randall. He tells you about the deals he's done in detail and gives you the numbers. Out of my 20+ RE books in my library, this is #1.

Oct 5, 2016 - 8:56am


Make more lists like this one.

Suggest some topics

Commercial Real Estate Developer

Jan 22, 2018 - 9:42pm

I just finished King of capital a few weeks's great read I'll probably re-read it in a few months b/c there's a lot of good details I know I didn't appreciate the first time

Feb 18, 2017 - 4:14pm

Great post, thanks for the list!

“You adapt, evolve, compete, or die.” -Paul Tudor Jones
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Mar 20, 2017 - 8:59pm

Another great book so far is High Rise by Jerry Adler about Ian Bruce Eichner and his NY office project that lost $200M. I'm only a third of the way through it but anyone that has ever asked 'what's the day-to-day like for a real estate developer?,' especially for high-rise urban infill, should read this book. It flows like a novel but the developer gave fairly unprecedented access and detail into the issues that came up and how they were resolved.

Mar 9, 2018 - 8:00pm

I like "What every real estate investor needs to know about cash flow...and 36 other key financial measures" by Frank Galinelli.

Annoying book title, but well worth the read. It covers the major real estate financial concepts in an easy-to-understand manner with plenty of examples.

Nov 13, 2017 - 10:02am

How readable is the Linneman book? I loved The Real Estate Game and Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur since they read like a series of stories / case studies. I'd like to read something more technical to brush up on some more advanced financial analysis but would prefer to avoid a dry textbook (if its even possible for a more technical book to not be dry).

Oct 21, 2018 - 12:07am

Kind of late to this. But it is very readable for being a textbook. I would say it is the most readable textbook I have read, but does not read like a RE novel.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Mar 9, 2018 - 7:52pm

Only somewhat related - I really enjoyed "The Art of the Deal" anecdotes of the deals trump has been involved with were really cool. Finding a signed copy in a house i bought and was tearing down for redevelopment may have added to my enjoyment.

Does anyone have any good suggestions related specifically to CRE debt? Would like to read any stories about successes in the RE debt fund space.

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