Books, Apps, & Magazines
  • Keep Calm . . . It's Just Real Estate: Your No-Stress Guide to Buying a Home
    Keep Calm . . . It's Just Real Estate: Your No-Stress Guide to Buying a Home
    by Egypt Sherrod
  • Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate
    Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate
    by Spencer Rascoff, Stan Humphries
  • Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants
    Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants
    by Bethany McLean
  • HotPads
  • Kiplinger's Personal Finance
    Kiplinger's Personal Finance
    Kiplinger Washington Editors
  • Arts & Crafts Homes
    Arts & Crafts Homes
    Active Interest Media

Welcome to the informed real estate literature website Real Estate Lit.

Read what's written about real estate. Keep current with reviews,

recommendations, summaries, and notable mentions; plus,

interviews with professionals in communications and publishing.



Preparing Buyers

Keep Calm…It’s Just Real Estate: Your No-Stress Guide to Buying a Home
by Egypt Sherrod.  2015.  Running Press, Philadelphia.  224 pp. 

Navigating the process of buying a home can prove difficult.  What if there was a book written in a relaxed style by a credible professional, who gathers the most important steps to know in the process for you?  Now in her second decade of representing clients in the buying and selling of real estate, Egypt Sherrod concentrates her knowledge in Keep Calm…It’s Just Real Estate to save readers time, money, and a few headaches when they’re buying a home. 

With Keep Calm, Sherrod emphasizes her enjoyment working for first-time homebuyers.  The author maintains a multifaceted career, which includes hosting HGTV’s Property Virgins and the forthcoming Flipping Virgins, as well as a plethora of recurring appearances on other media outlets.  Her real estate experience informs her prose, centered on helping first-timers, but also those buyers who seek to avoid repeating past mistakes on previous purchases. 

The simplicity of focusing on the buyer’s side of the equation is something to like about Keep Calm…It’s Just Real Estate.  Sherrod lists key reminders for new buyers:  “Top Ten Things to Consider before Buying a Home,” and “Eight Ways to Locate a Stellar Agent,” among other directions.  When she does branch into broader subjects like the economy, and supply and demand, such as in the chapter on distressed properties, Sherrod connects the big-picture back to what matters for buyers to learn.  Sherrod distinguishes for first-time buyers the difference between a housing shortage and an inventory shortage.  She even discusses confidently “surefire ways” to acquire your dream home during an inventory shortage.         

Another audience who benefits from reading Keep Calm…It’s Just Real Estate: buyer agents.  At least know, prepared buyers are going to read it.


Speaking of Zillow

Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate
by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries.  Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.  New York and Boston.  2015, Zillow, Inc.

Over the past decade, the company Zillow and its eponymous website expanded across the real estate scene, augmenting and facilitating the ages-old systemic marketing of homes for sale and rent.  With their book, Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate, CEO Spencer Rascoff and Chief Economist Stan Humphries encapsulate the company’s philosophy of bringing elements of transparency to residential information. 

Early in Zillow Talk, the co-authors reflect on their respective journeys working through the travel industry, an industry which reformed vis-à-vis the Internet.  Knowing what was possible with transformation and disintermediation at the macro level, and having made their own complicated housing decisions, the two had a shared opportunity to underscore Zillow’s vast efforts to collect, calculate, and present retrievable data that can inform as a guide for buying, selling, financing, and renting.  “Real estate,” they write, “is a lens on society.”

More than just contemporary dispatches of what they see happening in U.S. markets, it’s fair to conclude Zillow Talk is also a functional resource for helping make sense of real estate.  One component of the company’s research is their breakeven horizon, which educates on the buying versus renting decision and applying how long you forecast to stay.  “What the breakeven horizon does,” they point out, “is figure out where those two paths cross to pinpoint the number of years it would take to make buying economically preferable to renting the same home.” 

Zillow Talk addresses bubbles, walkability of neighborhoods, “why real estate agents are more important than ever,” and the mortgage interest deduction on federal income taxes.


Chasing Payoffs of Net Zero

Interested in the next hurdles of net zero living?  Leap into the pages of Fast Company magazine with "This Home Makes All Its Own Energy."  Editor-at-large Jon Gertner writes about the NIST test house, known as the Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility situated in Maryland.  The article contains advances in net-zero technology studied at the prototype.  Refreshingly like necessary ventilation, Gertner doesn’t shy away from the affordability question, and how that construction cost reality is influencing scientists’ expectations about building zero net energy houses.


Infrastructure Intertwined with Real Estate

Fixing roads and bridges has become a familiar refrain.  Infrastructure in the U.S. gets described as aging, inadequate, and in need of substantial repair.  The condition of the nation’s infrastructure does not earn a seal of approval from the American Society of Civil Engineers — it receives a failing grade.  Prior to rushing forward, with shovels ready, might there be new approaches to fix tomorrow’s roll out of infrastructure?

Yes, says Orion, taking cues from fresh ideas across the country.  Reimagining Infrastructure is an impressive series from the bimonthly magazine.  In an introductory editorial last year unveiling the two-year project of rethinking infrastructure for the next generation, Orion Editor-in-Chief H. Emerson Blake made the case that our lives are intertwined with our current infrastructure.  Blake framed the problem of America’s infrastructure as running deeper than its condition, but rather extending into “the outdated philosophy that underlies it.”  Orion’s reportage collects stories of Americans working together conscientiously to incorporate engagement and innovation for their infrastructure solutions. 

Real estate and infrastructure have long been intertwined.  Infrastructure isn’t exclusive to the public square without impact on private property rights.  Take for example potential conversions of cargo railways into high-speed commuter lines.  Property owners with crossing rights adjacent to a converted railway share a crucial safety issue with railroad operators that will get put to the test with an adaptive use.  Car drivers anticipating a 40 mile-per-hour freight train makes for a different safety dynamic versus anticipating a 160 mph high-speed passenger train.     

Public policy fastens

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