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Making It in Real Estate


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About the Author

John McNellis is a principal with McNellis Partners, a commercial development firm he cofounded in the mid-1980s in northern California. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California Hastings College of the Law, McNellis began his career as a lawyer in 1976 in San Francisco. Always more interested in business than in law, he started fixing up houses in his spare time and gradually worked his way to more complicated projects. At 28, he formed a partnership with an older client and began his career as a retail developer. Cobbling together the equity from friends and family, they built and opened their first shopping center in 1983, by which time McNellis was no longer practicing law-except on behalf of his own projects. Within a few years, he formed McNellis Partners with Beth Walter and Mike Powers. They continue to be partners more than 30 years later. Specializing in developing supermarket-anchored shopping centers in northern California, the partnership has followed a strategy of developing only about two projects a year and doing so with internal capital only, thus retaining 100 percent ownership of their developments. In recent years, the company has begun developing mixed-use projects and, in an effort to diversify, investing in small Silicon Valley office buildings.


"Put aside other real estate textbooks! John McNellis is a Picasso of storytelling, bringing the real estate process to life through humorous and compelling anecdotes and insights. With material as eclectic as the times in which we live, McNellis captures the fascinating odyssey of real estate investment, ownership, and development. Newbies and wily, cantankerous veterans alike will find this gripping primer on the real estate deal process to be a catalyst in turning creative ideas and big dreams into tomorrow's built environment." -Jim Curtis, Managing Partner, Bristol Group "John McNellis has a talent few other developers possess: he can swiftly cut to the chase to make a deal that works for both sides. He is among the best at knowing when a deal makes sense to pursue, or when to walk away and await the next one. If you want to learn what it takes to be successful in real estate, read this book." -James S. Fassio, President and Chief Development Officer, Ross Stores Inc. "John McNellis's book on real estate development and investment is extraordinarily insightful and full of wisdom. His wit makes it an easy read. I would highly recommend this book to both experienced and beginning real estate developers and investors." -George M. Marcus, Chairman of the Board, Marcus & Millichap Inc. and Essex Property Trust Inc. "John McNellis fills his book with rich insight, great advice, humor, and inspiration-sharing his deep experience and wisdom, helping us think more clearly about real estate and assorted business issues. A must-read." -Mark L. Myers, Head of Commercial Real Estate, Wells Fargo & Company

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