REIT Valuation in US vs. Asset Management in Europe

Hello, I am a French/American student in a French school with no international pedigree. Up to now, I have done 1 Valuation & Advisory summer internship in one of the top international firms (CBRE, JLL...) in the French office

And am currently doing a gap year where I planned doing two off-cycle internships  (6 months, very common in France and UK). I will have a semester left of class in September before graduating. I am currently at a small REPE firm in San Diego that has deployed its first fund (15M in equity) and is raising its second one (30M in equity).

Learned so much, I am part of the deal process, speaking with the CEO and majority-stake investors every day, I am focusing 80% on acquisitions but doing some property management, project management, helping with fundraising as well. But I am not networking much and have no brand name.

Here are my options for what to do next:

  • Stay at the no-name REPE shop where I am learning a lot and am integral to the team (paid minimum wage) for the following 6 months 
  • Got a 6-month offer from top 10 US REIT that has been growing a lot in the past year (large merger) but in Valuation and Market Research (I found it weird to have a valuation department internally to a REIT...) (not what I want to do) I would be able to save a lot of money though because I wouldn't pay rent and have a decent salary and do some networking.
  • Have two offers in real estate asset management but in France, form the largest European asset manager, top ten worldwide and from the largest French investment bank (they have a Real estate asset management branch with a few funds). ( Best shops to work for in France but no US recognition). Paid like shit.

Any input? I want to stay in the US long-term and work in REPE, love what I am doing currently. 

Comments (5)

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redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So, you have a lot of moving parts here.... so just my thoughts, may not all connect tbh...

- If you want to stay in the US, get a job in the US, if you start working in France, it could be really hard to get good gig back in US without doing full reset/restart (I'm assuming you have US citizenship/work permit, etc. so that is no issue). Not saying it is impossible, but you will be at major disadvantage in networking, interviewing, and even building relevant market skills. If the French firm had legit US offices, then maybe slightly different if could do transfer later on, but that doesn't sound like what you are describing. 

- The Valuation/Market Research position at a REIT sounds interesting to me (note, I am in research/strategy, so this is my "area" lol). These units are directly tied to acquisitions, portfolio/asset management, and capital markets. Valuation is literally one of the most critical skills in real estate investment management. Overall, this sounds like a very attractive position (given the limited info you can legit post). Plus, if this is really a "top 10 REIT", then it is a household name most likely, thus better for a resume all else equal. For those who care, I'd guess this has good "exit ops" (perhaps internally at the REIT, but def externally).

- Hard to say much about a no-name REPE shop, but a first fund of $15m equity is tiny micro, and $30m is as well tbh. Not sure what asset class/deal type they are working in, but it must be small, and sounds like it could be sub-institutional. Now, none that is necessarily "bad", but your career progression onward could be more limited as it likely won't make you all that interesting to big institutional shops. If you like the "space" they are in, want to do those kind of deals, be in that world... then go for it. Not everyone wants/cares/or should be in the big "institutional" world. Truth is there are tons of $$$ to be made and good careers in the middle/lower market world that gets trashed on WSO all too often. I more or less started my career at a shop that played in that world + legit middle market... it was... interesting.... Personally, I like the "big league" world much more, but again, its all personal. 

Anyway those are my thoughts, good luck! 

stan.turon9, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you so much for your input.

Yep I am a dual citizen.

The US REIT is top ten by market cap 40B+

the French asset manager does have US office but they don't deal with real estate, only ETF and equities.  They have a Real Estate AUM of about 40B+ In Europe.

I know that if I leave the US now I would definitely need a degree (MSRE/MBA) or some experience at another no name shop before getting another "institutional" offer. Even if it's not in the team that I wanted (I also applied for acquisitions and asset management) and I don't see myself at a REIT long term,  it's tough to give up on a offer in the US knowing that I didn't even have to pay for a US degree. 

I guess I just have to chose where I want to work in the future and that is a personal choice. I have to chose by tomorrow so hopefully I will make up my mind soon 🤣.

But overall in the US there is much more opportunity in CRE, in France it's mainly institutional or family offices. Not many small/mid PE shops doing creative conversions and opportunistic deals, due to high taxes and heavy regulation.

redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All makes sense, and first jobs are rarely last jobs. I will note, a lot of people focus on acquisitions and asset management (like literally 90% of the buyside threads on WSO), and totally forget about the other/smaller front-office buyside groups like research/strategy, capital markets, and sometimes finance (sometimes this is legit front office, sometimes very back office tbh) and even investor relations (mixed on this one, depends on firm). 

Truth is, so long as you start off in one of those areas, you pretty much have full flexibility (as much as the next person anyway). Frankly, it's probably easier to go from a valuations/research team to an acquisitions team than it is to go from asset mngt to acquisitions (at least from skill alignment/experience perspective). Regardless, you gotta take the best of what you get offered. Let us know what you pick! 

redever, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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