Commercial Real Estate vs Luxury Real Estate NYC

In the New York City Real Estate market, would it be better to specialise in selling commercial real estate or luxury residential real estate? Would it be more profitable to be a broker for companies like CBRE, JLL, C&W or brokerages like Nest Seekers International and Douglas Elliman? Which of the two careers is more luxurious (in terms of lifestyle)?

Of course there are many commercial and residential real estate brokers that make a lot of money in cities like New York, but at the end of the day it comes down to which of the two career paths are more efficient if the goal is to ultimately net a certain amount by the end of the year. I've heard conflicting information regarding both careers, and it's difficult to determine what exactly is the reality of the situation.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (16)

May 17, 2022 - 9:02pm
CREnadian, what's your opinion? Comment below:

These are two completely different career paths - networking and sales are important in both, but ultimately with luxury real estate that's ALL that matters. With commercial real estate the good brokers are also analytical and understand the numbers and the macro picture.

Do you want to be a pure sales guy, or do you want to work in a job that requires some mental horsepower?

May 18, 2022 - 9:03am
GoldBroker--, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly the goal is more so lifestyle based. At the end of the day I want to go into real estate sales / commission based job but I also want to be able to make enough money to properly enjoy NYC without any financial worries or stress or any of that. Enough time to go to the gym, excel in my career, relax for an hour or two at night at a nice restaurant, etc. 

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
May 17, 2022 - 9:19pm

Pretty sure you need to be at least a 9/10 MILF with the greatest personality to win clients as a luxury resi broker in NYC.

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
May 17, 2022 - 10:09pm
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I mean.... I don't work in either field (do work in NYC)... seems like if you are successful at one, you probably wouldn't be well suited (or at least enjoy) the other?

Why not throw other professions into the mix like I-banking, wealth advisory, or whatever. Not sure how one would compare this. 

May 18, 2022 - 9:06am
GoldBroker--, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I-banking takes away too much of my personal time for my liking. Plus it takes some time to start making the big bucks (have to follow the standard promotional structure) while in real estate I can make the big bucks as soon as I get my bearings down and start to excel at the job. Wealth advisory takes way too long to actually gain traction because of the portfolio of clients you need to create and all the cold calling. At the end of the day, the choice of career comes down to the lifestyle it provides me in my 20's AND beyond. I'm stuck between commercial and residential real estate because I'm wondering what exactly is capable of being more valuable to me as to provide a better lifestyle (more income, freedom, etc.). 

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
May 18, 2022 - 9:15am

Brokerage is quite a cut throat industry and you won't have much of a luxurious lifestyle at all starting out. I'd drop this notion that you can come in and start making the big bucks and work 6 hours a day. If that was the case, everyone would be doing it.

Most Helpful
May 18, 2022 - 9:37am
redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

it takes some time to start making the big bucks 

If you cut away the rest of your post…. This above statement is generally the most true fact. The barriers to entry to residential real estate are super low, kinda low for commercial, but more "gatekeeper" style firms that may hire you as a junior and give you some early stage advantage. So, if you take on pure probability, I'd guess residential is more "open" but less likely. Clearly, it's not a game of random chance but competition is tough either way (for top tier commercial it's competition to get hired on a top team at top firm, for residential, you have more direct sales ability in theory, but still high dollar resi clients seem like they would want some to have experience, hence why being a "junior" in that world seems to be how many start). 

If you are going about this looking for "lifestyle" you will probably be disappointed, residential agents work 7 days a week often, commercial brokers can work equally crazy hours. You gotta just love the hustle, if there were a magic path to avoid it, wouldn't we all? 

I'd frame your career search more by trying to find what it is you most are willing to work like crazy doing. Like if you had to work 80 hrs a week, what would be the best time spent. 

Personally, my observations (and I guess lived experience, I'm late 30s now) seem to align with the best long-term career paths have the shittiest starts. Like the super well paid people in their 40s/50s often hustled like mad during their 20s/30s. No free lunch. 

Could you be a super star right out the gate in a field like luxury resi sales? Sure, I'm not able to tell you if that's possible for you or not, its very entrepreneurial and thus very YMMV. But if you are going into that with any expectation of lifestyle…… I'm not going a to rate your chance high tbh. Go hang with any bullpen of brokers (resi or commercial), the person to your right and left is fighting to the same thing, guess what they do when the competition goes on vacation…. Yep… they keep fighting. That's the competitive dynamic at those firms, no way around it. 

If you want lifestyle (which is super legit, 100%)… go corporate, better WLB all things considered. 

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
May 24, 2022 - 5:45am

Unless you have some very wealthy friends or connections you are going to be disappointed with this mindset going in. Real estate agents can make a lot and can have a great lifestyle, but it is also extremely competitive and a grind early on (know several brokers across all ages). You aren't handed multi million dollar listings early on, and selling them isn't easy. Affording nyc without a care in the world takes a fair bit of money. 

All that being said, you have a lot more flexibility in that career over IB or similar. So you'll be able to manage your time, but working low hours and making a ton of money isn't exactly something that is available early on in your career (if that existed everyone would be doing it…)

May 18, 2022 - 11:35pm
Action Jackson III, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What's the point of this post? making money?

You won't break into either of these fields thinking the way you do. Luxury and commercial real estate are both awesome career fields / industry niches that require complete and absolute focus and commitment.. and sometimes, a trust fund & good connections.

If you don't actually care about CRE or luxury real estate, you're out of luck.

May 24, 2022 - 5:15am
listingnearby01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Whether it's your personal residence, a vacation home, or an investment property, real estate has long been regarded as a relatively secure investment. If you have the funds, you might wish to diversify your portfolio by investing in luxury real estate.

May 24, 2022 - 10:50am
symongroup, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ducimus saepe laboriosam sit. Dolore quia tenetur voluptate et. Temporibus id et dicta. Vitae est ex fuga.

Nihil voluptates velit expedita hic doloremque et inventore nihil. Sequi eaque dolore rerum sequi. Repudiandae deserunt voluptatem accusamus numquam velit. Fuga ipsum incidunt minima id praesentium voluptatem voluptas provident. Dolorem et sed est.

Aut placeat veritatis sit et est quo dicta quaerat. At aliquid qui nulla debitis eligendi possimus.

Maxime laudantium asperiores labore. Ad itaque rerum velit accusamus nulla. Iusto aliquam officia dolorem occaecati. Sed dolorum unde qui delectus quo deleniti.

Start Discussion

Career Advancement Opportunities

June 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲03) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (= =) 99.2%
  • RBC Capital Markets (▲07) 98.8%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲01) 98.4%
  • Houlihan Lokey (▲06) 98.0%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

June 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲12) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (▲05) 99.2%
  • Greenhill (▲07) 98.8%
  • Rothschild (= =) 98.3%
  • Evercore (= =) 97.9%

Professional Growth Opportunities

June 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲04) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (▲04) 99.2%
  • RBC Capital Markets (▲09) 98.8%
  • Houlihan Lokey (▲07) 98.4%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲04) 98.0%

Total Avg Compensation

June 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $661
  • Vice President (37) $394
  • Associates (189) $246
  • 2nd Year Analyst (115) $162
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (17) $156
  • 1st Year Analyst (368) $150
  • Intern/Summer Associate (77) $148
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (288) $91