Whether or not you’re an aficionado of the get-rich-quick genre, you can’t deny that the name Trump signifies smart, strategic and profitable real estate investments. Today’s reality TV audience might primarily identify Trump as the possessor of an extremely swoopy comb-over or the frequent-bellower of "You’re Fired!" But every time I’m tempted to give Trump less real estate street cred, which is always threatened with overshadowing by his reputation as the serial ex-husband or Rosie O’Donnell’s staunchest foe, I remind myself of his initial real estate deal: buying the defunct Commodore Hotel for $10 million and rehabbing it into the Grand Hyatt, eventually selling his 50 percent share for $140 million (after securing $111 million in tax savings by way of a 40-year abatement he negotiated with New York City).

Note, though, that Trump didn’t actually write this book.

Book Review
Title: "Trump University Real Estate 101: Building Wealth with Real Estate Investments"
Author: Gary Eldred
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2009; 300 pages; $24.95 list ($16.47 on amazon.com)

Whether or not you’re an aficionado of the get-rich-quick genre, you can’t deny that the name Trump signifies smart, strategic and profitable real estate investments. Today’s reality TV audience might primarily identify Trump as the possessor of an extremely swoopy comb-over or the frequent-bellower of "You’re Fired!"

But every time I’m tempted to give Trump less real estate street cred, which is always threatened with overshadowing by his reputation as the serial ex-husband or Rosie O’Donnell’s staunchest foe, I remind myself of his initial real estate deal: buying the defunct Commodore Hotel for $10 million and rehabbing it into the Grand Hyatt, eventually selling his 50 percent share for $140 million (after securing $111 million in tax savings by way of a 40-year abatement he negotiated with New York City).

Note, though, that Trump didn’t actually write this book. His associate, Gary Eldred, did, at "The Donald’s" request. And this is a second edition, reportedly updated for the recessionary market. Though I didn’t read the first edition, I will say that Eldred had me at hello with this prefatory remark:

"In the first (2005) edition, I emphasized that the ‘motivated’ seller approach to finding good buys had lost much of its viability. Back then, the great majority of sellers wanted top dollar, and (distressed properties) still represented quite a small part of the market. In addition, during those boom days, amateurs … and speculators … drove property prices much higher … than sensible investors (such as myself) were willing to pay."

"Huh." I thought to myself. "So maybe this book will be different than the rest." I can’t tell you how weary I am of reading and hearing real estate "experts" tout how super-simple it is to manifest millions overnight by getting sellers to practically give away their homes — and finance them, too. These deals were spectacularly unrealistic in 2005, but the influx of distressed properties into the market over the last few years has changed the scene somewhat. Eldred gets that.

Throughout the book, Eldred teaches and advocates the quintessential Trump approach: entrepreneurial investing. "Entrepreneuring in Real Estate," as Eldred calls it, deprioritizes the short-term, speculative, flip mentality in favor of creating new value in investment properties. This way, according to Eldred, investors can use their ideas for what new uses, improvements and income streams are possible for any given property to build real estate wealth through value creation — whether or not their investments experience market appreciation.

From the basic concept of entrepreneurial investing, Eldred — with ample input from Trump — builds out a full set of guidelines for planning and executing an entrepreneurial real estate investing plan. He deeply cover points ranging from how to sharpen your entrepreneurial thinking to how to create (and cater to) market segments, to creating a valued property, successfully managing properties and negotiating deals.

Having read dozens of real estate investing books and been put off by not a small number of them, I found Eldred’s advice and instruction to be refreshingly sound, on the whole, and even inspirational, on occasion. There is a good sprinkling throughout of guidance on mindset: the "how to think about yourself and the possibilities for your investment life and properties" — actually, the possibilities for your life in general.

Long story short — I was impressed. And I didn’t expect to be. "Trump University Real Estate 101" does not make profitable real estate investing seem like child’s play or an overnight affair. But it does imbue profitable real estate investing with an enthusiasm and creative energy that simply isn’t generated by the infomercial-style real estate "kits" and expos that reduce the endeavor to being only about making money. Beyond simply educating readers with surprising depth and detail as to how to execute an entrepreneurial real estate investing plan, "Trump University Real Estate 101" manages to infect readers with The Donald’s own excitement for making properties and communities, well, better than they were before. And that is a market-proof strategy.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

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