Over the years, I’ve read dozens of books about business and real estate. When I was starting my brokerage, there were 10 key real estate books that helped me start my business, and later thrive.
In my experience, not all real estate books are created equal. Some are written by authors who are just trying to upsell you to their courses or business coaching programs. Others are just regurgitated and stale marketing advice. With thousands of mediocre books out there, it can be challenging to find diamonds in the rough.
Here are the 10 best real estate books that actually helped me in my career:
Sales and networking are critical components of succeeding as a professional real estate agent. It doesn’t matter how much you know about real estate—if you can’t persuade people to work with you, then you won’t survive long. This book provides actionable advice about how to turn leads into prospects. Schiffman breaks down sales into three components:
This book talks about how to get in the right mindset for success. In a nutshell, it comes down to believing in yourself. The lessons the book covers apply to nearly all aspects of life, but they’re particularly relevant to careers and leadership. If you have big goals and aspirations, don’t skip this book.
Schwartz also gives helpful advice for maintaining your relationships and quality of life during your early years as a real estate agent. It can be hard for loved ones and friends to adjust to your new schedule, but if you apply the techniques in this book, you can learn how to spend quality time with your loved ones and even have some leftover time for yourself.
Sometimes clients ask difficult questions and put you in difficult situations. Over the course of your career, you’ll encounter a wide variety of personalities.
You’ll have “know-it-all” clients who disregard your recommendations, sometimes you’ll get a micromanager who needs to hear from you every two hours, and other times you’ll have clients who leave you in the dark to figure it out on your own. Whatever situation you encounter, this book will help you prepare for common objections and conversation.
In high-pressure situations, you’ll be happy you read this book and have some objection handlers stored away in your memory for how to handle difficult conversations.
If you want to bring home a million dollars next year, read this book for inspiration. Something that new real estate agents may not consider is that most of your hard-earned commission doesn’t go into your pocket. It’s unfortunate, but true. Taxes, marketing, open houses, and agency fees all eat up your commission. This book distinguishes between net and gross earnings, and gives you an economic blueprint to minimize costs and maximize take-home pay.
If you’re new to the business side of things as a real estate agent, this book will be worthwhile. Full of step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and many “how-to” lessons, this book should be on every new agent’s reading list.
5. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
Although the author is a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and investor, much of what it covers applies to real estate agents too. It’s a good resource for any real estate agent who is thinking about launching their own agency or hiring other people. Most business books focus on the steps entrepreneurs need to take in order to run a profitable and successful company.
However, these assume that everything will go smoothly. In reality, there are many bumps along the way. This book talks about the tough decisions Horowitz had to make while CEO of a software company, such as layoffs, dealing with internal politics, hiring the right people, and even eventually selling the business. This book is especially useful for real estate agents looking to take the next step in their career and become a broker.
Do you dream of owning a profitable real estate brokerage one day? If so, you’re going to have to get comfortable with the financial side of the real estate business. While accounting and finances may be less exciting than closing a million-dollar listing, you’ll never succeed without a solid understanding of how profit really works.
Even as an independent real estate agent, you’ll need to understand how you can be the most profitable. While “Profit First” was written for general business owners and entrepreneurs, the techniques in this book are crucial for real estate agents to learn early on. Michalowicz offers excellent advice for agents and brokers on how to center profit, but keep in mind that there’s no “right” way to organize your business for maximum profits.
Every financial planning author will try to position their theory as the holy grail, but take everyone’s opinion with a grain of salt. Don’t get too caught up on following one book’s advice. Eventually, you’ll want to set up a custom plan that fits your lifestyle with the aid of a financial planner.
Written by the co-founders of Basecamp, this book is a series of short essays about how to build a successful business that stands the test of time. Instead of chasing money from venture capitalists or trying to scale fast for a successful exit, the authors argue you should build a company slowly.
This is especially relevant to traditional businesses like real estate brokerages that aren’t involved in the tech startup culture. The book includes many counterintuitive tips such as why you should not pay attention to your competitors, work only eight hours per day, and why spending a lot of time planning can actually be a problem.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have a huge network of referrals to access, then this book is for you. It’s all about networking, building relationships, and then turning relationships into referrals. Unlike other business books, it’s written in a story format, so it can be a nice change of pace if you’ve been reading a lot of self-help and practical business books recently.
New real estate agents will likely find this book helpful due to the straightforward “seven-level” formula for communication. You’ll also learn how to communicate with people in a genuine manner, which can be difficult if you’re new to sales.
You’ve probably heard of this book many times, but if you haven’t read it yet, consider this your chance. Have you ever wondered why some people are always liked and trusted by others? How did they do it?
It’s not magic—it’s probably just their ability to earn trust and become likeable. Believe it or not, becoming more likeable and trustworthy are skills that can be honed. With the aid of the principles in this book, you can learn how to lead people with sincerity and earn their trust. In a way, this book teaches you how to do sales without being too “salesy” or slimy.
As a real estate agent, if your clients and colleagues like and trust you, your career will go much more smoothly. Even if you consider yourself a great communicator and trustworthy, it’s a good idea to read this book and practice these principles in your daily life.
You probably won’t find this book on other real estate book guides. “Psycho-Cybernetics” is a book about reaching your goals and preparing your mind for success. Many of the books on this list are filled with practical tips and tools for real estate agents, but this one is more about your mindset. If you read this book, you’ll learn about the power of your mindset for preparing yourself for success. When your mind is in the right place, the daily tasks you need to complete feel much easier and productive.
As a new real estate agent, you can expect to be working hard every day. You’ll work weekends, you’ll probably take client calls after hours, and you’ll have to put in the grind to build the relationships that lead to referrals. Through all of the hustle and bustle, you can easily lose track of your goals, burn out, and feel like you’ll never reach your goals of becoming a top-earning real estate agent. If you apply the theories in “Psycho-Cybernetics,” you can be sure that you’ll never lose track of your goals while keeping your mind calm and centered.
The Close Team’s Best Real Estate Books Staff Picks
Hungry for more book recommendations? Here are a few books that inspired The Close team over the years in everything from real estate to starting this site.
If you’re nervous about taking the plunge and starting your own team or brokerage, then Barbara Corcoran’s “Shark Tales” is essential reading. In the book, she recounts her amazing success story—from growing up poor in a large family, to waiting tables, to using her wits to dominate the cutthroat world of Manhattan real estate and beyond.
With so many talented competitors out there, internalizing the idea that hard work beats talent every day of the week isn’t easy. That’s why we loved “Grit” by Angela Duckworth. In “Grit,” she lays out the case for perseverance being the key to success with the hard science that proves it.
National Association of Realtors (NAR) keynote speaker and Realtor Leigh Brown has the antidote to the lack of motivation many agents fall prey to after a strong start. Selling can be exhausting, both emotionally and physically (when it comes to schlepping buyers all over the city to look at homes). If you need a mental kick in the butt, this book is for you!
The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair With Your Customers by Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier & Wiser by Tara-Nicholle Nelson
If you want to be successful in real estate, you have to learn how to turn one-time buyers and sellers into clients for life. Nelson’s premise here is simple: by seeking clients who are interested in growth, and then providing them a path to growth through your continued services, you forge a relationship with them that’s not easily broken.
Though the idea is easy enough, the execution can be tricky, which is why this book is so valuable. With a master’s degree in psychology from the University of California and a Juris Doctor from Berkley, Nelson’s academic chops are obvious. But what really makes the narrative and advice of this book pop is her clear, real-world experience as a vice president (VP) of marketing at major athletic and tech brands implementing these strategies.
You don’t have to be a managing broker or even a real estate team leader to get a lot of value from this book. As a real estate professional, we are leaders in so many ways; we lead our clients through transactions, we lead the other industry professionals (like mortgage brokers, inspectors, appraisers, and so on), and we are leaders in our communities. Like it or not, your leadership matters to lots of people, so being conscious about being a good leader is important.
In this book, Liz Wiseman, head of leadership and development firm The Wiseman Group (whose clients include Apple, AT&T, Disney, Facebook, Google, Nike, Tesla, and many others) makes the case for being the sort of leader that makes everyone else in the room feel smarter by their leadership, not dumber by demanding their subservience. We’ve all been around people who seem to somehow drain the energy, enthusiasm, and capability from the people around them. If you’re lucky, you’ve also been in a room with someone who amplifies those things, someone who turns the light bulb on above your head. Wiseman lays out the path to be the latter in an easy-to-read business book all real estate professionals should have on their shelf.
Race for Profit: How Banks & the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (Justice, Power & Politics) by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
If you think you know all about the history of housing discrimination in the United States, think again.
This incredibly thoughtful and well-researched analysis of the events of the late 1960s and early 1970s that lead to the policies that kept many Black families on the outside looking in is both heartbreaking and captivating. Taylor manages to strike a very fine balance between a virtually encyclopedic understanding of a very complicated topic and narrative storytelling of real people fighting through a system set up to defeat them—the result being a book that will keep you up at night and spur many dinner table conversations. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She’s been featured in nearly every reputable publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Al Jazeera America, and beyond.
Over to You
What are some business books that you’ve found helpful in your real estate career? Let us know in the comments.