Development career underrated?

Im a grad student and I have noticed that all my peers are talking about careers in brokerage, PERE, surveying, etc but almost no one seens particularly interested in development.

Is this something you experienced professionals have observed as well? It might be due to perceived prestige among students or perhaps its just the case where I live (northern europe). Im interested in hearing you thoughts on this and why you think this might be the case!

Comments (14)

DevMonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Who is talking about surveying over development? Surveying is not in the same bucket as development/REPE/brokerage 

It isn't underrated. credentialed and hardworking young people go into it. It's just a different path with different upsides and downsides than the other paths you mentioned. Some thrive in it. Others don't. 

CREnadian, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Surveying over development lmao…

Development is very popular, but if you're in a business/finance program people are going to be biased towards REPE because it's more aligned with high finance and traditional investing.

Engineers, architects and planners tend to gravitate more towards development out of school, with the business guys trickling in later. Development finance analyst roles are less sexy than acquisitions right out of school.

Developer_Daddy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Several have gone into land surveying out of undergrad, it seems more popular among the females and types who want nothing to do with business. Its one of the career paths I know of so I mentioned it and you laughing about who would choose that over development might indicate that the role is underrated in my area since, or simply that surveying is viewed as shit in yours :)

Interestingly enough Im actually at a polytech institute, basically just engineers here and it seems being good with numbers makes the financial roles quite easy(and hence more popular and intuitive?). That might just be my experience tho, thanks for the reply.

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Most Helpful
  • VP in PE - Other

Junior people are often very income focused, and development is a back ended income profile. Not sure how surveying has come into the mix here, but the other roles (REPE / brokerage) all offer much quicker routes to significant pay checks. That said, development offers far greater ability to go out on your own and secure life changing money. I've made several 7 figure promote payments to developers, whereas all of my sales fees to brokers have been 6 figures. The guys who went out on their own have paid off their mortgages and are now debt free in their mid 40s with a significant pipeline of more opportunities to earn proper retirement money. The brokers on the otherhand are living year to year as they're keeping up with the joneses. Read into it what you will.

Developer_Daddy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What you said about brokers always chasing the next deal makes a lot of sense, I suppose it suits them while developers who typically work for a while on any given project are more patient and can "refrain from eating their cookie if they know they will get another one in an hour" if that makes sense. Its somewhat reassuring to hear theres no obvious net disadvantage to development compared to the other roles.

Very insightful comment, thanks!

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm

Overrated considering you get paid like shit compared to acquisitions for the potential of going out on you're own (which is very thin).

Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Overrated considering you get paid like shit compared to acquisitions for the potential of going out on you're own (which is very thin).

You don't get paid like shit.  Well, maybe in Europe?  I don't know the market there.  In the States, you're making like 80% of what your colleagues in acquisitions do in your early career, and you have the chance to make many multiples of what they make down the road.  It's really a question of risk tolerance; more risk averse folks like acquisitions, because it's a higher guaranteed paycheck and an easier job (as in, acquisitions has a lot less risk than development as a business), while people who are a bit more entrepreneurial might prefer development, as it's a skill set which can lead to more ownership, more quickly in your career.

redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think it is very regional, in the US, development is very desired/aspirational by many (at least a top 3 target field at many programs with real estate focused students). In Northern Europe, may be very different due to relative differences in development activity/opportunity (clearly such varies by market).  

Developer_Daddy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I may be wrong but I assume we have much stricter regulations making it more difficult to develop new properties, especially raw land. That sounds like a reasonable hypothesis, thanks!

jayflip21, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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