From Greystar to Top REPE

Hi Everyone,

I worked for Greystar as an investment analyst. I'm learning a lot about multi family and student housing acquisitions, but I would like to work for « real » PE firms later, and on other asset classes.

My goal would be to land at firms like Starwood Capital, Carlyle Real Estate etc.

If it wasn't possible for me, which firm should I consider to be reachable by the time I would be associate (in 2 years)?

Thanks all,

A Real Estate Guy

Comments (28)

outofcapecod, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not sure if you need B school. I came from a regional developer and lateraled into a large buy side firm

  • 1
pudding, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes you can make the move. No, you don't need to go to business school. If you want to move to REPE in New York - network. Also reach out to head hunters and begin to create relationships. They control many of the jobs and can begin to show you things. Your experience at Greystar is great and many firms will value it.

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Sham Wow, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wasn't Starwood literally started by a guy who left Greystar....

JSmithRE2010, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Other way around I believe


CRE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yep. Bob Faith founded Starwood and then left and founded Greystar.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

  • 1
cre_questions, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Grass is always greener my friend. I totally get wanting exposure to other asset classes but long term I would much rather be at a top developer like Greystar than at a Carlyle/Starwood that's gonna grind you up and spit you back out in two years.

  • 3
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A

People tend to overestimate themselves and underestimate how their work-life balance is going to take a beating from working at a place like Carlyle or Starwood. You'll be working with amazingly brilliant people sure, but they'll expect you to be just as amazingly brilliant. That takes a lot of time and effort.

Most Helpful
Sham Wow, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not going to lie, this is definitely the mentality of someone still in U-grad. I am sure a lot of people can make the transition later from somewhere in the industry to "Top Shops" but chose not too. If you really want that blip on your resume I am sure you could pursue it from 100x different avenues.

But once you get into the RE job market you realize a few things and that ambition level goes down

A) You can make serious money at places no one has ever heard of and learn a lot of it is run by smart people B) Shit happens, and maybe you don't feel putting in 2 yrs then MBA then 2 yrs in Greenwich. C) For every Berry S./Sam Zell/Ross/John Gray there are 100s of people who have transacted with them or made significant contributions to some of those businesses and left to start their own shops. These people are just as smart and sometimes even more driven and willing to hire bright young people, and the RE industry might pull you that way. D) if you have some money or know someone with money and think you are smart just start your own shop, why make these guys richer? Some of the smartest young analyst I know broke off to start their own funds by the time you would have gone down the "route" to these funds.

  • 8
Sham Wow, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Because RE just isn't a Megafund or bust industry and job title means nothing.

With both of those combined there are a lot of reasons to not want to step up to a entry level role at a megafund.

You might step up to a bigger fund and have way less responsibility and visibility. You might switch jobs for a higher title and have the same thing happen.

RE doesn't have a defined path of Target>Top IBD> MF PE > MBA > PE with Carry, you could leave Greystar after a few years and find yourself at a shop where you skipped the MF/MBA steps and have huge responsibilities comp with carry tied to personal and fund performance. If that's the case why go through it all.

There also aren't too many different skills sets in RE. In IBD a person who works at Goldman TMT has completely differen skills that someone who worked at a Fixed Income desk, and those reasons start playing into why some roles are sought after more than others in the IBD/MF world.

Moral of it all is. I know tons of people who are more than qualified to work at mega-funds but just don't because they like their boss, working on a project that might put them on the map,easier commutes, Don't feel like being a cog associate in a mega-fund for 2 years to get spit out or maybe recognition is easier at a small firm.

There are some historically great shops like MS REI, BX, SW and for each one of those I can name 3 people who worked there for years went on to become an MD opened their own shop/found a principal to back them in their own fund and run a team that is much leaner, much more chilled out, and a better learning opp in some cases.

Also 20 years ago nobody knew about those 3 firms in RE (Except maybe BX) and in 20 years there may be tons of people from funds you have never heard of that are starting their own shops.

I think all in all being at a fund for that funds major events is what makes people able to make those moves. Being at BX when they bought Hilton, or being at a fund when their iconic transactions happen and actually working on them will allow you to make a name for yourself more than having a line on your resume.

  • 7
REmonkey2, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ayyy! I worked for Greystar as the "Management Class" program in 2017. Go network on Twitter on with people in real life. You don't HAVE to go to a huge REPE shop, you could go to a smaller shop where they'll invest a lot more into your growth and you'll have more responsibility. 

Otherwise, I'd recommend going to B school and recruiting. 

Or just start buying property on the side and soon enough you'll be able to raise funds. I've done about $1.2m in the last 18 months and my friends feel comfortable investing in me. 

  • 1
CREAcquisitions, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know people at both places, well actually. Both firms, especially Carlyle, prefer to hire directly from developers/operators like GS. Most of the transactional folks at both places do NOT have MBAs, and frankly, they are not viewed as a prerequisite for promotion within each fund either. 

I don't believe Starwood runs a two-year program, but Carlyle definitely does. It can be a substantial amount of work, depending on how transactional the office is, but the opportunity to, a) move on, b) get a MBA, or c) start your own operation after two years of closing transactions can be valuable.

Long story short, what you're looking to do is very achievable and actually fairly common. Funds that focus on asset-level transactions tend to keep their eyes open for candidates with GP-level investing and operational experience.

  • 3
  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm

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