“Real Estate Dealmaking,” By George F. Donohue (Dearborn-Kaplan Publishing Co., Chicago), 2005, $19.95, 177 pages; Available in stock or by special order at bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.
If you are a serious real estate buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, property manager or realty agent involved in negotiations, you will be at a severe disadvantage if you don’t study “Real Estate Dealmaking” by George F. Donohue. The author is president of William B. May Commercial Real Estate, the oldest real estate company in the U.S. (established in 1866).
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He has participated in thousands of real estate transactions, ranging from house sales to mega-million-dollar international realty transactions. The book offers something for all readers, whether you are involved in a little deal or a big deal. Along the way, Donohue shares his expertise gained from many years of negotiating with all types of opponents.
But this new book isn’t just about real estate negotiations for buyers and sellers. It includes tips on dealing with general contractors, property managers, suppliers, real estate lawyers, bankers, partners, and brokers. Toward the book’s conclusion, there are fascinating examples of how to negotiate with international realty tycoons who employ different negotiation methods than U.S. residents.
Although the book doesn’t give the author’s age, Donohue must be about 100 years old to have had so many fascinating real estate negotiation experiences. He is obviously a very sophisticated negotiator, but he explains his negotiation strategies in simple terms and diagrams even I understood.
The book starts out a little slow to establish the realty negotiation basics. “You can simply negotiate or you can successfully negotiate” is the book’s theme. From that basic beginning, the book advances to detailed negotiation strategies the author uses. Along the way, he uses diagrams to simplify what otherwise could become complicated.
Especially fascinating are the quotes that begin each chapter. They include “You can never learn less; you can only learn more” (Buckminster Fuller); “The more complicated and powerful the job, the more rudimentary the preparation for it” (William F. Buckley Jr.); “Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent” (William Shakespeare); “Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to our lives” (Albert Einstein); and, my personal favorite, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate” (John F. Kennedy).
In addition to explaining the basic fundamentals of successful negotiation, such as learning the other party’s true motivation, and time deadlines (if any), this book adds a new approach I have not seen in other realty negotiation books: prepare an agenda of key topics and hand it to the other party at the beginning of negotiations to focus the discussions.
Donohue doesn’t hesitate to give his personal opinions. For example, he explains how to find the best real estate brokers, select the right lawyer (cage the legal eagles), property managers (watch for differing goals), tenants (market to them well), and buyers (take the driver’s seat).
What makes the book especially enjoyable reading are the author’s many negotiation stories. As the book draws to its close, the author shares his experiences negotiating with British, French, Chinese and Japanese opponents. He shares his triumphs, as well as a few mistakes (such as revealing the date of his return flight reservation from Taiwan).
Chapter topics include “Negotiation versus Successful Negotiation”; “The Importance of Being Prepared”; “Your Negotiation Plan”; “Fundamentals of a Negotiation”; “Partners – The Other Half of You”; “Bankers – Keepers of the Coin”; “Brokers – Finding the Right One for You”; “Contractors – Construct a Strategic Plan”; “A Word About Ethics”; “Role-Playing as Negotiators”; and “Negotiating Around the World – Cultural Nuances.”
This is one of the few real estate books that cannot be recommended too highly. Donohue obviously put great effort into making the book both practical and enjoyable reading, with lots of personal examples to liven it up. On my scale of one to 10, this superb book rates an off-the-chart 12.
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