15 Essential Books For Real Estate Agents


I know you've probably seen a million and one lists of the best books you just HAVE to read. Most of those lists just rehash the same information you've seen before. I did not want to do that with this list. No hype. Just real good books for building a great real estate career.

Career Advancement Hyperlocal Strategies New Agents

Nelson Quest
Founder & CEO

There's a ton of content online. Some of it good, some bad.

Articles are great for tactical tips and tricks. However, sometimes you need something a little more in-depth and strategic. This is when books come in.

I know you've probably seen a million and one lists of the best books you just HAVE to read. Most of those lists just rehash the same information you've seen before. I did not want to do that with this list. No hype. Just real good books for building a great real estate career.

Real estate is a business. If you want to succeed as a realtor, you need to understand the principles of business in general. This means: understanding yourself, understanding prospects and how to reach them, how to market and build a business.

Personal Development

Building a great career starts with building yourself. These books will help you determine your goals and develop a habit of doing high-value work. Focus, and more specifically determining priority in your work is a huge factor in being successful.

Think and Grow Rich

I'm sure you're not surprised to see this on the list. Think and grow rich is easily one of the most recognized and praised self development books out there. What affected me the most about this book is being clear about what I want out of life.

Finding a purpose in life... The existential question we all face at one point in time. This book tells us that how we think is one of the most important factors for success.

Why? The way we think determines what we do and therefore physically manifest in our lives.

You should read this book if you're interested in learning more about what you want and setting some serious career goals.

During the past twenty-five years I have been blessed with more good fortune than any individual deserves but I shudder to think where I'd be today, or what I'd be doing if I had not been exposed to Napoleon Hill's philosophy. It changed my life.

The One Thing

The Pareto principle, working smarter not harder, focus etc. What does this all mean? Analyzing your tasks. Determining what is the most important. Then, doing the high value stuff first and as much as possible.

A lot of productivity books preach getting more stuff done. In reality, you need to get more important stuff done. Don't focus on checking boxes off your list to feel good. Analyze what you are doing. Are your tasks actually high value or just busy work?

For example, stuff like paperwork, photographing homes and doing the set-up for open houses are all things you can and should outsource to other people when you have the means to do so. When you have the freedom to focus on revenue generating tasks, you'll see your business take off. You're a salesperson. You should be selling.

But don't take it from me. This book was written by the big daddy Gary Keller himself.

Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I haven't read this book in a while. I may have actually been a little too far down the path of self-development as when I picked it up most of the principles seemed fundamental. However, for someone just getting out there in the world of self-development, this book will be a great resource for you.

The book stood out to me with it's focus on founding your actions in a set of principles. Creating principles for yourself can be the first step in finding your purpose. The reality is, in order to feel successful, you have to stick to your principles.

I for example simply want to positively affect the world through writing and business. The details or path I take to reach that point are largely irrelevant. If you do the same thing and create principles, it becomes (a little) easier to get past those business failures, change course and move toward your end goals.

When Stephen Covey talks, executives listen."

Psychology & Leadership

I'm a huge Psychology guy. I believe that if you understand how people work Psychologically, you can win any game you play. Master the mind. Learn how people think. When you know these things, you can understand how to influence, lead, and inevitably sell to people.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

This is one of my favorite books of all time. It was actually one of the first real personal development books I ever read. I think I was about 16 when I picked it up for the first time.

Realty is a people business. The extent to which you can get others to like and trust you directly determines the volume of business you do. The author goes as far as to say it is the only book you would ever need to be successful. Why? If you can lead, influence and sell people on your ideas, you can get people to do what you want.

Just remember these principles are entirely more effective when you're operating from a position of sincerity. If you're always thinking about yourself, not the best interests of your client, they will smell it and you will be labeled shady as a result.

This book changed my life.

Influence: The Power of Persuasiom

Robert Cialdini is a self-professed schmuck. Sick of being taken advantage of, he did the research on persuasion that eventually went into Influence. This book goes into all of the ways salespeople motivate and influence their prospects. You'll learn about how people think, and how to make small communication changes that influence the perception of other people.

Influence is a book I will come back to time and time again. It's just a great resource for learning how people think and getting them to (ethically) do the things you want them to. If you are providing a great service, you should have no problem "manipulating" people a little. Your prospects deserve to work with you. Not some half-baked, flash in the pan realtor.

For marketers, this book is among the most important books written in the last ten years.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

This book is especially great for anyone who plans to one day start a team or brokerage of their own. Understanding what motivates other people is a key to managing your team members.

Drive explains in-depth the idea of "flow" in work. A huge takeaway is that people work harder when they have internal motivation. External incentives can dramatically reduce the productivity of your team. Not only this, people work better when they have time to do some creative work.

I can't summarize much more than that, but if you want to learn about what motivates people, check out Drive.

Persuasive... Harnessing the power of intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic remuneration can be thoroughly satisfying and infinitely more rewarding.

Emotional Intelligence

I have not actually read this book myself, but have heard great things. To me it appears to be like the philosophy of creating better relationships. First hand I have seen how important understanding and calibrating to social interactions is. Especially in business and building relationships.

People are emotional (especially in the home buying or selling stage). It's important to be emotionally intelligent. This book will help you tap into the mind and understand how people feel. Understand how people feel and you'll understand the basis of the actions they take. You can then use this information to delicately approach emotionally charged situations with your homeowners.

A thoughtfully written, persuasive account explaining emotional intelligence and why it can be crucial to your career.

Predictably Irrational

Not only are people emotional, they're also irrational. Dan Ariely wrote this book as a look into all of the ways humans are predictably irrational. That is, being supplied with a specific stimulus and reacting in a predictable (but irrational) way.

This book is great for learning about perception. The way you approach a situation can directly affect the way it is perceived - even if all else is equal. Perception, especially in the home buying and selling process is super important.

Emotions are charged, patience runs thin, and it's up to you to keep your clients cool.

Remember, you want to keep your clients cool because then you're leading the interaction. If you put the ball in their court all bets are off.

A fascinating romp through the science of decision-making that unmasks the ways that emotions, social norms, expectations, and context lead us astray.”


Marketing and branding are the tools you use to get in front of your prospects and make them remember your name. Once you're further into your career, you'll be able to leverage more referrals. For those just starting out, paid and unpaid "cold" marketing, or marketing within your sphere of influence is going to be huge.

Guerrilla Marketing

Originally Jay Conrad Levinson wrote Guerrilla Marketing for his students when he taught at the University of California. This book is basically the bible for branding and marketing material and strategy.

It then became a huge success selling a full suite of marketing books across the world in dozens of languages.

Ever heard of the Microsoft Butterfly fiasco? That's one example of Guerrilla Marketing at play. Reddit did the same thing.

In short, Guerrilla Marketing is any form of promotion or marketing for low or no cost. You leverage creative ideas and time investment rather than capital expenditure to get big business results. I first saw this article and went down the path of learning about no-cost marketing. Read Guerrilla Marketing and see how you can apply creative marketing strategies to your real estate business.

Guerrilla Marketing is the entrepreneur’s marketing bible -- and the book every small-business owner should have on his or her shelf.

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

This book is short. I remember I read it in a few hours. It's packed with a ton of valuable information that will help you with your branding and marketing strategy. They include examples of failed and successful marketing attempts to justify their points. Some of the examples are actually mind-boggling.

For example, they talk about the "first mover" principle. This basically means that the person or company that is able to solidify their place in the market before competitors will basically remain number one forever. A good example of this in the book is Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other soda/pop companies. Number one (Coke) gets the majority market share, number two (Pepsi) gets a decent piece, and the rest get the scraps.

The book proposes that every piece of marketing material you publish be branded with a consistent message. Choose one word you want to burn into the mind of your prospects. And if you can be the first realtor or brokerage to move into or create a new market, you can carve out a great business.

Just as the laws of physics define the workings of the universe, so do successful marketing programs conform to the '22 Laws.'

Endless Referrals

Referral marketing should be one of your main marketing priorities as an agent or brokerage. Real estate in particular involves an enormous personal investment from both parties. Creating an environment where you are being recommended by your happy clients will result in a big business boost. This is because of the confidence that comes with social proof.

Endless Referrals is one of the most popular books on the subject. Although I have not read it myself (yet), I am familiar with setting up processes to generate referrals. If you like this book, you may also like "93 Referral Systems" by Jay Abraham.

Bob Burg has long been the authority on connecting with clients and building win-win relationships. Endless Referrals should be required reading for sales professionals and entrepreneurs everywhere.

Business & Real Estate

Here are the fundamentals to conducting yourself, your team and brokerage. Use the principles in the following books to optimize your business structure and operations. This will result in higher productivity and thus profitability.

The E-Myth Revisited

This book should be required reading for anyone looking to get into business or become self-employed. I believe the phrase "working on your business, not in your business" was originally coined by the author. Michael E. Gerber mainly goes over what is called the franchise model. How to set up processes so that your business can run even when you step away.

As a business owner, which as a realtor you are, your primary working hours should be spent working on business development (like sales) and strategy. As a contrast, the author explains that most business owners spend their time putting out fires and completing tasks. You don't have a business at this point. You have a job.

Gerber loves to exhort people to develop powerful visions for their companies.

The Ultimate Sales Machine

This is one of my favorite business books ever. I still can't believe sometimes how bad the management and communication structure is in businesses I have worked with. This is especially true of older, more established industries. It seems like so many people are just running around like chickens with their heads cut off. No real management structure or on-going workplace reviews and improvement.

To have effective and repeatable sales processes, you need to set up an organization that is effective. That's what the first 120 pages or so do. You'll learn how to run a business efficiently. The author then moves into more specific sales strategies and tactics. Check out The Ultimate Sales Machine. It's definitely one of the best overall business books I have ever read.

The Ultimate Sales Machine [is] a book that puts it all together to help you dramatically increase your sales if you are wise enough to follow its advice.

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent

The title says it all. This book is coined as the Bible for establishing and growing a real estate business. As Gary Keller of Keller Williams wrote the book you know it's going to be good. Not only that, it has a personal recommendation from Robert Kiyosaki.

This is one of the 3 books from this list I haven't read. But again, I've heard amazing things. The number of copies sold and reviews on Amazon speak for themselves. I have a feeling this may be similar to the book "Million Dollar Consulting" which I have read and recommend as well.

I'm adding this to my list and will read as soon as possible.

This book presents a new paradigm for real estate and should be required reading for real estate professionals everywhere.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Real estate is probably one of the toughest businesses out there. The economy and housing market have so many ups and downs. In order to stay above water when times get hard, you need to understand change management. That means pivoting and changing course when what you are doing isn't working.

It's hard to do a complete 180 when you've built an established business. The thought of completely changing your target market and everything that comes with it is a daunting task. Switch is a book you should read so that the next time the housing and real estate market as a whole changes drastically (like 2008), you'll be able to zig when everyone else is zagging.

This is one of the most important business books published during the last several years.

In Conclusion

I understand only a couple of these books are specifically directed towards real estate. However, the most important part of succeeding at real estate is to understand general business and success principles.

Go through the stages. Learn how to conduct yourself at optimal levels. Discover how people think so that you can lead and sell to them. Figure out how to market and brand yourself. Then, understand how efficient and effective businesses operate. These books will help you cover all of those bases.

Real estate is a tough business. Take time to educate yourself. Give yourself a foundation that will allow you to outwork and outperform the competition. Especially during those boom times when everyone and their mother gets into real estate and crowd up the market.

I hope these books help you build an amazing real estate career.

Check out this article next

150 Real Estate Marketing Ideas To Supercharge Your Marketing Efforts

Are you struggling to come up with good real estate marketing ideas? Maybe you’re sick and tired of always playing it safe, doing the same things ov…

Read Article
Suggest a topic