Mel Simon, Sam Zell, Donald Trump and Eli Broad have all made their fortunes in real estate. Retail Traffic contributing writer Steve Bergsman attempts to uncover the secrets of these magnates in a new book called Maverick Real Estate Investing (Wiley, 292 pages, $24.95). Bergsman's how-to investment guide mines the careers of several industry titans for golden rules on making a good deal, using other people's money, establishing cash flow targets, finding a nearly perfect location, getting good legal and tax counsel and selling to your advantage. Bergsman includes tip sheets such as the following:


  1. Realize that real estate is cyclical.

  2. Try to get a read on where the market is right now.

  3. String out the development process in down cycles.

  4. Be ready to act quickly when the cycle begins to change

  5. When entering a down cycle, clean up your balance sheet.

  6. Invest contracyclically (against the cycle).

  7. Buy when capital is out of the market.

  8. Have financing ready for unexpected buying opportunities.

  9. When your first bid fails, and you're not the initial bidder, look for opportunities to step in to take advantage of the situation.