The real estate industry offers a number of different career paths in a wide variety of organizations. This site offers an overview of career path in the industry as well as several resources to help you explore your real estate career options.

Real estate careers presentation

Career Paths

  • Corporate Real Estate

    Corporate real estate professionals evaluate real estate properties to support a company’s core business.  A corporate real estate officer must be able translate his/her company’s strategy into its physical space and create as much revenue as possible. Not only does this have to do with finding, managing, and maintaining the physical facilities but some workers are also involved in understanding how to best create and adjust the property’s layout.

    A finance background and education is extremely helpful and necessary for a position in corporate real estate. Just like a developer, a corporate real estate professional must know how to structure a potential real estate transaction to benefit the company. That involves creating analysis and projections of construction costs that will be incurred as the property is built or fitted to meet the company’s criteria and what future revenues the property will make from customer sales. These analyses will tell the company how much it can afford to pay for monthly rent and could help determine the size of the property the company will want to invest in.

    Possible job responsibilities

    • Conduct site analysis to identify office space, distribution facilities, retail locations or manufacturing space for the company
    • Conduct market research and establish a real estate strategy
    • Participate in all aspects of property development including the entitlement process, legal process, and construction management
    • Assist with interior and exterior designs to satisfy customer and employee needs while minimizing costs


    Examples:

    Target
    Marriott Hotels
    LBrands

  • Investment/Financing

    Many types of institutions finance and invest in real estate, and offer a variety of career options involved in analyzing the attractiveness of real estate assets around the country and around the world. Professionals working in this field are tasked with preparing detailed financial analysis of real estate properties and designing financial models in Argus and Excel. Below is a quick summary of the various types of institutions involved in real estate investment and financing.

     Real Estate Investment Trusts

    A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that owns, and in most cases, operates income-producing real estate. REITs own many types of commercial real estate, ranging from office and apartment buildings to warehouses, hospitals, shopping centers, hotels and even timberlands. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1960,REITs were designed to provide a real estate investment structure similar to the structure mutual funds provide for investment in stocks. REITs must pay out at least 90 percent of their taxable income in the form of dividends to shareholders.

    Examples:

    Health Care REIT Inc.
    Post Properties invests in the development of upscale apartments nationally.
    WP Glimcher owns and manages shopping malls in multiple states.

     Private equity real estate funds

    Private equity real estate funds assemble large pools of capital from individual and institutional investors and invest directly in real estate development projects and property acquisition. Unlike hedge funds focused on short-term profits, private equity funds are focused on the long-term potential of the real estate companies and properties they hold an interest in or acquire. Once they acquire or control interest in a real estate asset, private equity funds look to improve the properties through management changes and targeted investments.

    Examples:

    Blackstone
    Core Properties
    CBRE Global Investors
    Carlyle Group

    Investment banks

    Investment banks help individuals and organizations raise and invest capital. Most have groups dedicated to real estate, which provide financing and advisory services to a range of real estate companies, such as REITS, real estate operating companies, large privately-held real estate companies and financial investors in real estate opportunity funds and institutional investors. Many real estate investment bankers operate as part of industry-focused team within large investment banks; others work in smaller boutique firms specializing in a specific niche, such as sale of large real estate assets. Students enter the industry as associates, assisting in business development and the execution of a broad range of transactions.

    In addition, investment banks have commercial real estate finance divisions that employ 1) mortgage loan originators and underwriters who originate and underwrite loans that the bank intends to sell in the capital markets as Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities, and 2) bankers who manage the securitization process. The bankers who manage the securitization process take 100-200 loans originated by the bank, package them in a trust structure which is rated, and sell bonds known as CMBS.

    Examples:

    Goldman Sachs
    Any large commercial bank
    Small specialized investment firms

    Institutional investment

    Institutional real estate investment refers to real estate investments by large pension funds, insurance companies, commercial banks, foundation and other corporations. Today’s institutional investors allocate almost 10% of their portfolio to real estate. These businesses are not seeking to be developers themselves, but rather serve as sources of equity or start-up money for developers. Most of the career options in institutional investment companies are focused on financial analysis to identify quality investments from less desirable ones, and the best way to do so is through pro-forma valuations and financial projections for a specific property. It is vital for these professionals to have a strong knowledge of a property’s local market and comparable properties so they know whether or not a better investment opportunity exists.

    Examples:

    Nationwide
    Harvard Management Company
    MetLife

    Commercial banks

    Commercial banks provide capital for a variety of real estate types, stages, and risk profiles. Large commercial banks usually have specialized construction lending, permanent lending, and mezzanine/quasi-equity capital for all real estate property types. Some institutions further segment their business by borrower structure (large REIT/corporate borrowers vs. private developers) or by property type. The experience and nature of real estate work will vary depending on the stage and type of lending: construction lending, for example, involves greater focus on managing entitlement and construction risk than permanent lending.

    Examples:

    Huntington Bank
    J.P. Morgan Chase
    Key Bank

  • Brokerage and Appraisal

    Real estate brokerage is the facilitation and coordination of buyers and sellers. A real estate broker acts as an intermediary between someone who is buying, selling, or leasing real estate. Appraisal is the process of estimating the market value of land and buildings as each property is different based on its size, location, condition and other variables.

    Commercial brokerage

    Commercial property brokerages market office buildings, hotels and many other types of commercial real estate for sale or lease. Commercial brokers usually specialize in a particular property type such as apartments, retail, office, hospitality, shopping centers and industrial plants. Most of the large commercial brokerage companies in the United States provide a great deal of local market data and research in order to be able to service a cadre of sophisticated clients who are making multi-million dollar investment decisions. Commercial brokerage is further divided into investment sales brokerage and leasing brokerage, each with specialized professionals.

    Real estate appraisal

    Real estate appraisers and assessors determine the value of a property. Property value is then used for tax purposes, financing or investing, and by insurers. In addition to licensing or certification, Appraisers need an understanding of finance and accounting, acceptable principles of appraisal and must be licensed. Assessors, valuators and appraisers work for government agencies, real estate and other private sector companies, or they may be self-employed. Appraisers can specialize in residential property or commercial property.

    Residential Real Estate Agent/Broker

    Residential real estate agents assist individual buyers and sellers in the process of transferring residential property from one owner to the next. Real estate agents are usually independent sales professionals who contract their services to real estate brokers in exchanges for a commission-sharing agreement. There are over 400,000 real estate brokers and agents in the United States. To become a broker you must be at least 18 years old, a high school graduate and have passed a written test on property laws and real estate transactions. For more information please visit our Licensure  site.

  • Consulting

    Consulting firms work with corporate clients on a variety of real estate consulting issues, including portfolio advisory services, valuation services, transaction due diligence, underwriting complex real estate transactions, lease analyses, as well as providing litigation support. Some consulting firms provide corporate strategic location and relocation services. For more detailed description please visit McKinsey’s website or Deloitte’s website.

    Real estate consulting is also provided by large real estate services companies, such as Jones Lang LaSalle, that provide everything from real estate investment management for other institutional investors, to property management services, to real estate consulting services.

    Examples:

    Deloitte
    McKinsey
    The Townsend Group

  • Development and Construction

    Development

    Developers are considered to be the visionaries of real estate. The most successful developers possess a great deal of passion, perseverance, and savvy as they must fulfill a variety of roles. First, and foremost, a developer is an entrepreneur. Their job is about finding new opportunities to create and develop a project that will make money and/or improve a community. Developers are also planners because they have to coordinate the activities of everyone working on their development. They need to understand civil engineering and architecture in order to articulate to the consultants how they want a site to layout, ultimately look, and understand if their vision can realistically be built. Developers have to fill the role of lawyer and negotiator in order to purchase the existing property and know the zoning laws and local regulations. These laws indicate everything from knowing what type, size, and height structures are allowed to legally be to understanding how many parking spaces are necessary.

    A great entry way into one of these companies is to become an analyst. Analysts help to create financial models for each development project. This allows them to form an understanding of how the development process works, as well as the costs and risks that accompany each project. Majority of developers specialize in particular type of property, such as single family housing, mixed use developments, or commercial, as well as new development or rehab development.

    Possible Job Responsibilities

    • Conduct market analysis and acquisitions analysis
    • Create, update and evaluate financial spreadsheets to examine returns to the developer and investors as a project evolves
    • Review investment agreements and other legal documents
    • Develop and execute project timelines
    • Ensure that contract agreements with construction and design firms are upheld


    Examples

    M/I Homes
    Steiner + Associates
    Crawford Hoying
    4Points Development

    Construction

    Construction companies partner with developers, governments, universities and corporate entities to build the desired structure. Construction manager is responsible for the overall planning, coordination, and control of a project from beginning to completion in order to produce a functionally and financially viable project. The construction industry is composed of five sectors: residential, commercial, heavy civil, industrial, and environmental. Construction managers need strong leadership and analytical skills. Math, science, English and computer courses are especially important. Effective communication, leadership and attention to detail are all critical to properly managing construction successfully.

    Examples:

    Turner Construction
    Ruscilli
    Messer

  • Real Estate Management

    Real estate properties as well as real estate investments require management. There are three types of management positions: property management, asset management and portfolio management. Both asset and portfolio management are closely associated with investment and financing as portfolio and asset managers are responsible for managing assets acquired by investment organizations of various types.

    Property management

    Property management is the operation and oversight of property with the goal of maximizing its revenue and value. Property managers are responsible for negotiating leases, securing new tenants, budgeting, collecting rents and paying bills (mortgages, taxes, insurance, payroll and maintenance), compliance, maintenance, the public image of the property and all the unforeseen occurrences in between. They also often provide insight during the design stage. The career of property manager requires good interpersonal and analytical skills and a fair amount of negotiating prowess. This job is personally rewarding and allows you to really learn the real estate markets should you wish to embark in business on your own.

    Examples:
    CBRE
    ProLogis
    NAI Ohio Equities

    Asset Management

    Asset management involves creating and implementing business plan objectives for a particular set of properties. Asset manager is responsible for maximizing the performance and value of the company’s real estate investment. They can do this by managing the project more efficiently, increasing the rent, or by buying and selling the assets at good prices. Asset managers with real estate firms and in the real estate department of banks and trust companies may have responsibility for multiple properties. Managers also plan and advise on the purchase, development, and sale of property. Opportunities exist for asset managers to assist in the disposition of foreclosed properties.

    Examples:
    Cushman Wakefield
    Large retail corporations
    PwC

    Portfolio management

    Portfolio manager performs a similar task as the asset managers but will do so on a portfolio wide scale. Portfolio manager’s primary responsibility is to serve as owner representatives. Portfolio manager works directly with institutional clients to develop and implement specific real estate strategies. The strategies encompass considerations as to product type, geographic location, price, yield, and ownership structure. Portfolio managers are not involved in day-to-day details, but rather they take a broader perspective to ensure that the clients’ overall goals and objectives are met and focus their attention on significant opportunities to add value to client investments. Portfolio manager serves as a liaison between the client and properties. Portfolio managers are generally assigned by client, as opposed to an asset manager which is typically assigned by property type or geographically. Management in this field will require a big picture understanding of market directions and trends in the industry.

    Examples:
    Large institutional investors
    Investment banks
    REITs

Industry Resources