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

  • by Peter Hendee Brown
  • Narrated by Chaz Allen
  • 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

"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.
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- Tristan "Urban planner. Environmentalist. Geek."

A must read!

Invaluable for community members and development professionals alike. This book provides well written explanations and easy to follow case studies for anyone who wants to understand land development.
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- Timothy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-28-2015
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks