I’m often asked for book recommendations on real estate finance. Apparently, teaching it makes me a literary critic. So here, in no particular order, are my top three.

There are only three textbooks on real estate finance that I generally believe are worth reading. They are:

1. Commercial Real Estate Analysis and Investments, Geltner and Miller

This book is why I don’t write my own textbook. It’s basically perfect.

It’s written at a high level, it hasn’t gone through 10 editions and so it has the original “voice” of the writers, and it’s well structured.

If you have a finance background, this is the one to get.

With this book, the best I can hope for is that one of them quits writing it, and calls me up to ask if I’ll continue to carry the torch (and yes, that’s a very unsubtle hint to the authors).

2. Real Estate Finance and Investments, William Brueggeman and Jeffrey Fisher

This is a great book if you know nothing about real estate finance or finance. If you’ve never heard of time value of money, this is the one. On the other hand, if you think that the word “alpha” is more than the first letter in the Greek alphabet, buy a different book. Stick with Geltner and Miller.

To put it another way, Geltner and Miller is used in B schools. Brueggeman and Fisher is used in undergrad courses and at graduate programs where the students do not all have a strong base in real estate finance. When I teach at Columbia, I use Brueggeman and Fisher as many of the students do not have a finance background. The program is housed in the School of Architecture for a reason.

3. Real Estate Finance and Investments, Peter Linneman

The Linneman book is good, but a little too chatty for my tastes. It’s not structured as a textbook; it’s really more just a reprinting of Linneman’s class notes. That said, it’s not like his class notes are bad; he taught at Wharton for years and knows what he’s doing. It’s just that the book is not aiming for consensus, as much as it’s trying to provide the world view of an intelligent man. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s there.  Either way, it’s a heck of a lot less expensive than going to Wharton, and it’s worth a read.