Investing Lessons From ‘The Donald’

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

Trump Strategies for Real Estate: Billionaire Lessons for the Small Investor by George H. Ross (Wiley, 2005)

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If you’re a fan of the NBC’s reality TV show “The Apprentice” you’ll know the author of this book as Trump’s right-hand man on the show. But Ross plays an important role off-screen, too, as Trump’s business and legal adviser, which gives him authority to write a book on strategies that have made Trump billions. Ross also has negotiated deals on behalf of many other real estate tycoons, and the pointers he provides are customized for those doing small-scale investment projects, such as buying an apartment building or renovating a fixer-upper. Tips include some you’d expect to find in a book with “Trump” in the title—such as “use enthusiasm to inspire others,” and “be willing to pay a premium for location.” But there also are practical and unexpected tips on topics like mastering telephone negotiations (see below) and making presentations that impress. Case studies illuminate the main points of each chapter and prove to be interesting reads on how deals large and small get done.

Tips From the Book:

  • Take landscaping seriously. Even small investors should hire a competent landscape designer. Designers can create a landscape that reinforces the impression of desirability without the necessity of costly maintenance. A piece of sculpture or a small fountain could make a problem area more attractive and turn a ho-hum garden into a showplace.
  • Learn to listen in phone negotiations. The key to mastering telephone negotiations is listening. When you answer the call, ask the caller: “What’s the purpose of this call?” Then relax and listen carefully. If you don’t talk, the other side will in order to fill the awkward silence. Once you have the information you want, tell the caller you’ll call him or her back. This gives you time to craft a proper reply.
  • Spend money where it can be seen. To make your property stand out from everything else on the market, add small but impressive upgrades—especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Use Corian or Avonite countertops, high-end appliances, and attractive lighting fixtures. These features will make your property memorable in the eyes of the consumer. However, give thought to your anticipated income and make sure you don’t lose focus on the bottom line.