REAL ESTATE CONFRONTS REALITY BY TOM DOOLEY, STEFAN SWANEPOEL AND MICHAEL ABELSON Real Estate Education Company, publishers
155 North Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606-1719
1998, 221 pages, $24.95 Hard cover
IF YOU WANT TO WRITE A REALLY GREAT book you need two things: a great idea and great execution. The three authors of Real Estate Confronts Reality had a great idea. The real estate industry, they argue, is at the vortex of three large revolutions: technology, consolidation and consumerism. "Each in its turn has rocked the real estate industry in the 1990s. What will come next, and how will it affect your business?" they ask.
To find the answers, the authors interviewed more than loo industry players. All of this sounds like a winning strategy for creating a great book. But it takes more than just a great idea to make a great book. It takes great execution, meaning solid writing, proofreading and editing. Real Estate Confronts Reality falls short in this regard.
As you'd expect when three people author one book, some chapters are better than others. Unfortunately, even when the writing is good, the facts aren't always correct. The authors note that an MBA advertising campaign advised homebuyers to "Get your loan first." Close, but not quite. The slogan was "See Your Lender First." Columnist Bradly Inman becomes Bradly Inmar. In one ls-page span, we get to read the same sentence three times.
Publisher Dearborn Press said the errors occurred because of a technology glitch. Revisions that didn't make it into the first run will make it into a second run, the publisher promises. That a trade book even has a second press run proves the appeal of the topic.
Let's say you can overlook sentences with no subjects and misspelled names. Is there something worth reading here? Yes, and no. The chapter on real estate industry consolidator HFS (which has since changed its name to Cendant) skims across some important issues. As the owner of the Century 21, Coldwell Banker and ERA franchises, Cendant controls about one-fifth of the residential real estate market in the United States. It also directly purchases brokerages through a joint venture called NRT.
One issue the book doesn't address is the competitive problems that arise when a single company owns three franchises in one industry as well as retail operations in the same markets. It's a subject with which mortgage bankers can identify, having watched what happens when a wholesaler decides to offer mortgages on the retail market. Cendant brokers complain that their franchise fees are being used to fund NRT purchases of competitors who then recruit away agents and customers. …