10 must-read books on NYC real estate

From how-to guides to memoirs, financial crisis exposés to histories of the Manhattan skyline, the world of real estate literature has a lot to offer. Some of the industry’s biggest names — Barbara Corcoran, Donald Trump — have penned their own guides on success. Likewise, journalists have taken inspiration from Gotham’s best-known buildings — 740 Park Avenue, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village — to tell some of the most enthralling stories around. Read on for The Real Deal’s roundup of 10 must-read New York City real estate books.


1. Use What You’ve Got, and Other Business Lessons I Learned From My Mom
by Barbara Corcoran
After selling her eponymous brokerage the Corcoran Group, Barbara Corcoran penned a memoir about growing up in a blue-collar family in Edgewater, New Jersey, her early failures in the business world and how she formed what is now one of the largest brokerages in the city — famously with just a $1,000 loan. The 2003 book, her first of four, was an instant hit with the real estate industry and budding entrepreneurs alike.


2. The Subprime Solution: How Today’s Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What To Do About It
by Robert Shiller
Published in August 2008 on the eve of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy filing, “Subprime Solution” is bestselling Yale University professor and housing stats guru Robert Shiller’s most popular book. It boldly outlines the origins of the subprime mortgage crisis and proposes a solution — bailouts in the short term and a revamp of lenders’ financial priorities in the long term.


3. Other People’s Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made
by Charles Bagli
New York Times reporter Charles Bagli’s book, published earlier this year, takes the reader inside the now-infamous Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village deal, and explains how powerhouse developer Tishman Speyer and asset manager Blackrock lost billions of dollars of other people’s money on the deal. “That book made me mad,” Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel said, explaining that the major players lost nothing while the bondholders were the ones that got hurt in the end.


4. 740 Park Avenue
by Michael Gross
The Famed Park Avenue building has always attracted an exclusive crowd.

Michael Gross' 740 Park

“740 Park” by Michael Gross

Among its former residents are Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and John Rockefeller Jr., while its current residents include designer Vera Wang, Blackstone Group’s Stephen Schwarzman and Oaktree Capital Management’s Howard Marks. The 2005 book chronicles the building’s history, from its construction (James T. Lee, Kennedy Onassis’ grandfather, built the building) to the social climbers who still inhabit it today.

“It’s written like a novel,” even though it’s not, said John Barbato, a broker at Stribling & Associates. “It’s not only giving the history of a building but an older New York, Upper East Side, prewar one [and] the history of how it was sold.”

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5. The Sky’s the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan
by Steven Gaines
This 2005 book provided the outside world an inside peek at the cloistered environs of Manhattan’s luxury real estate, examining the most exclusive condos and co-ops in Manhattan and the brokers who were their gatekeepers. Some critics called the book gossipy because it reported on elusive co-op boards and landlords.


6. Skyscraper Dreams: The Great Real Estate Dynasties of New York
by Tom Shachtman
The story goes that the Dutch paid the Indians $24 for the island of Manhattan. Afterwards, the skyscraper race began. That’s the story that journalist and author Tom Shachtman tells in this 2000 book. From moguls like the Rockefellers and Astors to the Tishmans and Rudins, the narrative charts the history of the skyscraper in Manhattan and how generations of builders have ignored the city’s overall structure and health.


7. The Millionaire Real Estate Agent
by Gary Keller
The first book by the founder of Keller Williams outlines step-by-step how to succeed in the real estate industry. According to Keller, there are just three concepts that drive production — economics, organization and lead generation. Keller’s follow-up books include “The Million Real Estate Investor” and the recession-era “Shift: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times.”


8. Trump: The Art of the Deal
by Donald Trump
Among real estate mogul Donald Trump’s long list of accomplishments are several books.

Donald Trump's "Trump: The Art of the Deal"

“Trump: The Art of the Deal” by Donald Trump

However, one of his earliest, “Trump: The Art of the Deal” is nearly synonymous with Trump’s name. Published in 1987, it shows how the developer runs his day-to-day business and personal life. Along the way, the book outlines Trump’s 11 steps to success while breaking long-held myths about the real estate biz.


9. The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Selling Co-ops and Condos in New York City
by Neil Binder
Newly updated this month, Neil Binder’s guide provides an insider account of how to successfully buy and sell apartments in Manhattan, for consumers and brokers alike. Readers get a look at the sales process from house hunting to closing costs. Binder, the founder of Manhattan brokerage Bellmarc Realty (now a Coldwell Banker franchise) has taught courses at the brokerage since it was founded 34 years ago.


10. The Peebles Principles: Tales and Tactics From an Entrepreneur’s Life of Winning Deals, Succeeding in Business and Creating a Fortune From Scratch
by Don Peebles
Developer Don Peebles’ first book is an account of how he dove into the business world at age 19 with no past experience or contacts in the industry, becoming a multimillionaire just seven years later. Besides a memoir, the book offers tips on what it really means to be lucky and how to negotiate a deal while dealing with personal attacks.