Books in Brief: For the Budding Real Estate Assistant

The Professional Assistant: A Guide to Success for Real Estate Assistants. Monica Reynolds and Linda Rosen. 184pp. Real Estate Education Co., a division of Dearborn Financial Publishing Inc., 1996; 312/836-4400.

April 1, 1997

Simply put, this book should be required reading for anyone interested in the exploding field of real estate assistants. If you have an assistant or are considering hiring one or becoming one, you'll find the responsibilities, skills, and traits needed for the position covered in detail.

The authors have compiled a manual of what today's top-producing salespeople should expect from their assistants--from lockbox installation to client and telephone etiquette. The most useful information appears where it's evident the authors have extensive personal experience, such as in working with buyers and sellers and doing personal promotion for the salespeople. On the other hand, the chapter on computers and software contains generic information available from other sources.

The book follows a logical order and uses helpful icons to guide readers to items of special interest, such as those activities that require a license. Each chapter is followed by review questions. There's also a comprehensive glossary of key terms. Perhaps most valuable is a series of tests--proofreading, spelling, math--to give to prospective assistants or to practice with if you're looking for an assistant position.

Although it's a textbook, the authors do an admirable job of keeping it readable and nonintimidating. Legal issues, often dry, are presented in a factual, yet entertaining way.

Before reading the book, I was skeptical about finding any new information. After all, I'd worked as an assistant for six years. But I found an excellent chapter on organizational skills, something I'd always lacked. Particularly valuable was a list of 16 organizational strategies, which I've posted over my desk. My favorite: Hold short meetings without chairs. If people are standing, they'll want to get to the point and go back to work.

The book has a few typographical errors and a rather mundane layout, which gives it an overall unpolished feel. But despite the lack of proofreading and dynamic typefaces, the core information is valuable and timely.

Robert F. Hebron is a licensed assistant to Kirt Donaldson, of Frank Howard Allen, REALTORS®, Novato, Calif., 415/897-3000.

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