RE Development Firms - Best Carry?

Hi all, I work at a developer focusing on large urban projects. We’re publicly traded so my equity is in stock. I’d like to target development firms that provide carry. I understand Hines and TCC do this (as well as super small firms) - but what other large institutional firms provide carry? I’m in the 12-15 years experience bucket. Trying to get planning in motion so I can recruit as market improves. Thanks in advance.

 

Based on the WSO Dataset, the topic of carry in real estate private equity (REPE) and development firms is a nuanced one, with practices varying significantly across the industry. While the context provided doesn't list specific firms beyond Hines and TCC that offer carry to their employees, it does offer insights into how carry structures can differ between firms and the factors that might influence the availability and amount of carry. Here are some key points to consider when targeting development firms that provide carry, especially with your level of experience:

  1. Firm Size and Structure: Smaller firms often have more flexibility in offering carry as part of compensation packages. This is because they might not have the same level of bureaucratic layers or corporate policies that larger, publicly traded companies do. While you mentioned Hines and TCC, it's worth noting that super small firms are also mentioned as providing carry. This suggests that exploring opportunities at boutique firms could be beneficial.

  2. Carry Vesting Terms: The nature of carry and how it's vested can vary greatly. Some firms offer carry that only vests if you're still employed at the time of distribution, while others may offer carry that vests over time, regardless of current employment status. Understanding these terms is crucial when evaluating potential opportunities.

  3. Project vs. Fund Level Carry: Carry can be structured on a project level or a fund level. This distinction is important because it can affect the risk profile and potential upside of the carry. Firms that offer project-level carry might provide more direct incentives tied to the success of individual projects you work on.

  4. Market Cycle Considerations: The real estate market cycle can influence development firms' ability to offer carry. In more buoyant markets, firms might be more generous with carry allocations as the potential for high returns increases. Conversely, in downturns, carry offerings might be more conservative.

  5. Networking and Industry Research: Given your experience level, leveraging your network to gather insights on firms' compensation structures could be invaluable. Additionally, industry forums, such as WSO, and discussions with recruiters specializing in real estate development could provide further clarity on which firms are known for offering attractive carry packages.

In summary, while the context doesn't specify a comprehensive list of large institutional firms that provide carry, focusing on smaller, boutique firms, understanding the nuances of carry vesting terms, and conducting thorough industry research can aid in identifying opportunities that align with your compensation goals.

Sources: Carry in REPE, Confused about carry at PE Fund, PERE: What's your carry?, Overview of Infrastructure Private Equity, Multifamily Development: Small Firm vs. Large Firm

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My firm isn't the caliber you're targeting, but for a data point, our base level development manager makes 1.5% of promote.

Average deal size $200mm I'd say but can be much higher/lower ($50mm to $500mm), target for manager is 2-4 starts a year, building to a 6-7% and selling/crystallizing at a 4-5% - broad generalizations since you touch multiple product types across the country.

One promotion and you suddenly have multiple managers under you, each doing those 2-4 deals/yr and you're earning higher % of promote as well as a piece of NOI, etc. These things add up in a perfect world.

 

2-4 starts a year seems like an absurd target to me when you're talking about $200M average deal size... typically that's going to be a 2-3+ year construction project at that ticket price, so you're saying a single DM could be overseeing up to 12 projects under active construction at a time? That's just irresponsible... One project going sideways can easily take up 80% of your time for several months. Can't get my head around how this business model could work.

 

You're absolutely right, it's structured much differently than other developers wherein our in-house GC/CM does 95% of work post-closing & start, including a ton of what you'd be doing as the "developer" in most other firms. How successful that strategy is ultimately depends on the competency and transparency of your construction team - obviously issues do come up just like they would anywhere else, but it frees up your time to help source, put transactions under control, and manage pre-development projects at greater volume.

Relative to that 2-4 target, I'd say I've seen our top two developers hit that consistently year over year but we also have a few guys who've been here 1-2 years and haven't closed a single deal during that time.

So agree with your math but in reality, and given how little time/recently the team has been structured this way (grew like crazy since 2019), these figures are just targets and not necessarily reflective of what actually gets accomplished. You don't get fired if you don't hit those numbers, having heads to manage and grow pipeline certainly has some value in itself.

This all coming from someone still early on in career and beneath the "developer" level, if you asked one of them they may have a different perspective.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

 

A lot of times your promote is contingent on you being still employed at the company.  That matters especially because going full cycle takes years.  Recency bias can be a constant battle in this industry (screw ups included).  If this is your plan to build wealth then you need to work on your political game as well. 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life. Check out my blog at MemoryVideo.com
 

Echo the above. I am at a firm that has been mentioned in this thread and any “carry” an individual has (which btw is not carry in the traditional / PE sense that people think of) is only paid out if they are still employed at monetization, with then part of it being deferred (you paid out if you stay until the remainder vests or if you are let go. If you quit you lose any unvested portion) 

 

It's going to be wildly firm dependent on a whole variety of factors.

You're probably better served by going to your peers at the places you think you want to work, buying them a couple beers, and pumping them for information about the specific firm policies.  Especially at your experience level, there just won't be many people on this site with valuable experience.  There are probably more 15 year olds on WSO than people with 15 years of experience!  So either you'll get someone from Hines who has 3 years of experience telling you what he thinks people above him get, or someone from Related extrapolating from their experience to tell you what someone at Hines gets, or whatever.  Highly unlikely you'll find multiple people with a decade+ of experience sitting in those seats to give you comp points.

 

You want to find growing regional developers who haven’t fully institutionalized their comp policy. I know a guy who has had years making over $10MM in carry doing cookie cutter multifamily. The mega shops would never let that happen. 

 

What is the average net disposition of these promotes to the manager on a full figure basis?

 

6 years experience

Small developer but high profile deals in our city, typical deal size is $150m, typical partners are tier 1/2 PE funds or institutional partners. 

5% promote in deals I manage (I manage 4 deals, would be worth $100k - $200k per deal if this we hit underwriting, all fully out of the money right now so worth nothing!)

1% promote across our portfolio (10 additional deals, worth $20 - $40k per deal, some in the money but most out of money)

 

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