Member Spotlight: Jack P. Friedman’s Dictionary of Real Estate Terms

Editor’s Note: The American Society of Appraisers is an organization of close to 5,000 respected, professional appraisers, many of whom are distinguished in their fields for their proficiency, knowledge and expertise. ASA is honored to have extraordinary members one of which is Dr. Jack P. Friedman, ASA. Dr. Friedman has written and co-authored more than 200 scholarly articles and more than 20 books, many of which have been published by Prentice-Hall, John Wiley, Warren Gorham & Lamont, MacMillian Free Press, Reston, and Barron’s Educational Series. ASA sat down with Dr. Friedman to talk about the ninth edition of Dictionary of Real Estate Terms which he co-authored.

Jack P. Friedman, ASA

Q: How much research went into sculpting this edition and what type of research did you do?
A: A very significant amount of research went into sculpting this edition. In the five years since the previous edition was prepared, my co-authors and I have continuously collected newly coined terms from reading journal articles, newspapers, and various real estate web sites, publications, and consulting experiences. We step up our efforts in the year leading up to the preparation of the new edition.

We consider matters from A to Z: Appraisal to Zoning.

New laws and regulations cause constant changes, especially in appraisal, financial regulation (lending laws), Fair Housing, environmental regulation, eminent domain, property development or construction standards, taxation, and land use regulation. Real estate finance is constantly changing in areas such as the availability of loan types, down payments, interest and principal repayment arrangements, Reg Z regulations.

We reviewed each and every existing definition for completeness, accuracy, and changing use. We add important new organizations, both government agencies and private associations that were in the previous edition. We updated name changes, mission changes, publication names, and contact information.

Q: What is the most difficult part when adding new terms?
A: When adding new terms, the most difficult part is synthesizing the matter into few words that are readily understandable, without losing accuracy. For example, new government legislation might be written in hundreds of pages of “legalize” which we must try to consolidate or synthesize into a brief and easily understood explanation, with a clear example. We also try to see whether our draft definition might be misunderstood, and make efforts to avoid that.

Q: What challenges did you face when gathering information?
A: Challenges we face when gathering information include verification and support. We use the primary document as a major source. If secondary sources must be used, we must determine their reliability and accuracy. To avoid plagiarism, we put aside reference materials and write definitions in our own words. Where appropriate, we write easily understood explanations with conviction.

Q: How has publishing your first edition change your process of writing the current edition?
A: The first edition, released in 1984, had approximately 2,000 terms, nearly all of which were defined and explained simply. The language of real estate has expanded considerably. New terms have been introduced, and old terms can take on additional or revised meanings.

Our book has several hundred cross-references. When we add a new term or drop one that has become obsolete, the cross references can change. We must be alert to new cross references when appropriate, and delete cross references when they no longer apply.

As time and editions passed, we have become better writers Jack Harris and I have co-authored several books. We try to get ahead of deadlines to deliver the revised manuscript ahead of schedule. This improves the quality because we are not rushed or scrambling to finish on deadline. We are goal oriented and we know what is needed to finish the job.

Q: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
A: Every new edition of the Dictionary of Real Estate Terms has been followed by a new edition of the Real Estate Handbook. That is a hard bound book which includes the entire dictionary plus additional materials. It includes a Home Buyers Guide, Home Seller’s Guide, How to Analyze Investment Opportunities, Careers in Real Estate, Federal Regulations, Guide to Appraisal Review, Real Estate Web Sites, and financial tables for mortgage payments and amortization balances. A revised edition of that will be next.

Q: Finally, if you could pass on a single piece of advice to authors out there reading this interview, what would it be?
A: The best advice to potential authors is to think of a topic that you do very well and can explain clearly. Writing on a subject that you understand will come much easier than writing on a subject that you must learn.

About Interviewee:
Dr. Jack P. Friedman, ASA is a State Certified General Appraiser with licenses in Illinois, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Kentucky. He holds the MAI, SRA and SREA designations from the Appraisal Institute; and the ASA from the American Society of Appraisers. He is a Counselor of Real Estate (CRE) awarded by the American Society of Real Estate Counselors, and a stockholder of the Real Estate Consulting Group of America. He is a Weimer Fellow in the Homer Hoyt Institute. He has been licensed as a real estate broker in Texas for more than 40 years.


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