There should be a law requiring every real estate investor, especially developers, to read “Secrets of a Millionaire Real Estate Developer” by Mark B. Weiss. The author, a Chicago realty developer, reveals little-known success secrets most property improvers would prefer to keep private so competitors don’t discover their profit techniques.

For example, the author shares how he acquires properties with profit potential for little or no cash from his pocket. Yet, he obtains purchase and construction financing from local banks, which require equity investments by the developer-investor.

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When I was renovating “fixer-upper houses,” I wish there had been a guidebook like this one to show me how to analyze, acquire, renovate and profitably hold or resell “value added real estate” such as Weiss develops. Although the author is highly successful, he even shares his few unprofitable property stories where he misjudged the market.

To illustrate, Weiss shares how he bought a sound apartment building and converted it into three- and four-bedroom condominiums. However, as he later discovered, buyers wanted one- and two-bedroom condos so he never was able to sell any units. Fortunately, he was able to resell the apartment building for a handsome profit.

The book presumes readers are thinking about becoming a millionaire real estate developer, like the author. He then explains how to assemble a development team, as he has done, including an attorney, accountant and contractors. Along the way, Weiss shares his mistakes to avoid and explains how to prevent costly errors hiring the wrong experts.

By far, the book’s best chapter is “The Art of Negotiation,” where the author reveals how to evaluate different types of real estate negotiators and how to successfully negotiate with each type. He calls them the brain, the pusher, the friend and the artist. The unfortunate result is this chapter is much too short. Perhaps Weiss’ next book should be “The Art of Real Estate Negotiation,” which will surely be a best-seller.

As a longtime, successful, big-city real estate developer, the author places heavy emphasis on how to deal with city government, which can make or break a development project. Weiss explains how he works with city bureaucrats and government officials to get the necessary approvals for his buildings without violating laws.

The many real-life examples from the author’s experiences make the book realistic, fascinating reading. The book is peppered with 46 of the author’s success secrets, which highlight the topics under discussion.

If the book has a flaw (book reviewers are paid to find flaws), it is too much generalization rather than specificity of what it takes to become a millionaire developer. Although Weiss includes many examples of his projects, they are generalized without including details that budding developers would find helpful, especially explanations how he overcame problems.

Chapter topics include “Industry Overview”; “Success Strategies: Self-Evaluation – Is This for You?” “Assemble Your Team”; “Evaluating Real Estate”; “Arranging Financing”; “The Art of Negotiation”; “How to Read and Write a Contract”; “Taxes”; “Government Relations”; “Insurance”; “Advertising and Public Relations”; and “Secrets of the Business You Won’t Hear from Anyone Else.”

This is not a dull real estate development textbook. Instead, it is a lively “how to do it” profit guidebook for realty investors and developers who want to know how to avoid mistakes and be very successful. On my scale of one to 10, this outstanding book rates a solid 10.

“Secrets of a Millionaire Real Estate Developer,” by Mark B. Weiss (Dearborn Trade Publishing, Chicago), 2005, $22.95, 202 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center


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