First Development Job Offer - Help?

Hi guys,

After working in architecture 5-6 yrs, putting together construction sets and zoning submittals, doing RFIs and construction admin, and studying a masters of real estate development part-time for 2 of those years, I finally pulled my first job offer in South Florida. It's for a small firm of maybe 10-20 people and I'd be basically doing project management on like, 2 small retail projects (<1000 sf) a month  along the East Coast for a year or two while they grow their pipeline. These projects would basically be almost exclusively site work coordination, whether zoning, overseeing contractors, dealing with whatever the client / franchisee brings up about their new property. Financials would be limited to keeping track of project budgets. 55k salary, 10 PTO days (sick and vacation total), no mention of bonus, promise to reassess later on if I can handle the work.

Here are my concerns:
1. Is this a good entry into the world of development? or would a more sophisticated developer see this work 2 yrs down the road and pass me over in favor of a candidate with different experience

  1. Is this pay fair for my skills and experience? I keep being told how great of an asset architecture skills are, but I feel like it's the same pay as someone  who might have just graduated the same masters at 22 without ever working a full time job and I am not sure if it's just me or I am being lowballed.

I am both debating taking it despite feeling overqualified just to get my foot in the door on the development side of the world but also openly questioning whether all my time spent getting licensed and learning architecture was completely worthless when I am about to make the same as people with no work experience. I feel, to put it bluntly, conned.

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Comments (15)

  • Prospect in RE - Comm
May 1, 2021 - 3:14pm

Few reasons; first, took me like a year to realize I wanted to do development. Also, I wanted to go beyond knowledge of design and urbanism and have a technical knowledge of buildings and project management. I also needed to save up to afford the masters degree and make the career change.

Apr 30, 2021 - 9:04pm

You are definitely being underpaid. You're masters educated and have useful real estate experience. If you're currently employed (ostensibly still as an architect), I'd stay there until you find a better option. You must be making more than 55k after 5 years as an architect. 5 years as an architect + MRED should put you in decent shape to be a development associate at a mid-large developer. It seems like this developer is doing build-to-suit retail if there are two small projects per month. Did I read that wrong?

  • Prospect in RE - Comm
May 1, 2021 - 3:12pm

That's correct. I feel like as an architect I am worth 60-75k but I haven't asked for a raise in exchange for the flexibility to study so 55k is actually a small raise for me.

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  • Associate 1 in RE - Other
Apr 30, 2021 - 9:53pm

If said developer is doing two retail projects at less than 1,000 SF each...maybe 55k isn't bad? Overall, I would say steer clear. You're in FL so comp is going to be lower. If I were you and desperate to get into development l, I wouldn't jump unless the offer was a base of $65-70k with a small bonus and then a reassessment after first year. Otherwise, stay in your current situation and wait it out. You'll be able to transition at some point and someone will offer you fair market value for your services.

Apr 30, 2021 - 10:23pm

Is this a relatively newer firm that only focuses on small "retail" projects? Just trying to gauge the aptitude of the company b/c $55k/year does seem quite low especially for someone with your experience. But then again, it's definitely a range I've seen in the real estate world for newer firms trying to establish themselves.

  • Prospect in RE - Comm
May 1, 2021 - 3:16pm

Not new but small. They have a main section that does multifamily, and they seem to have hired a senior guy to grow their pipeline into new pastures and I'd basically be working alone with that one guy.

May 1, 2021 - 2:51pm

So, when you say retail sub 1000 sf, do you mean free standing or like building out storefronts in shopping centers? Is this a real "development" job or more of a construction management job for a developer?

The experience does not sound bad per se, but my gut says this really isn't a "development" job, so it may be more like jumping from what adjacent field (architecture) to another (construction mngt). Does this make you more well rounded, sure, but I'm not sure this is game changing for your career.

As to the pay question, I don't think the pay is totally off for the job, but you are likely overqualified for it. 

Bottom line, should you take it? Honestly, not enough info for me to want to say. If you think this firm is legit and will let you get into legit development work, then maybe. Otherwise, I'd probably pass.  

  • Prospect in RE - Comm
May 1, 2021 - 3:20pm

Free standing, I'd basically coordinate site work. I feel like it's more construction management for the developer with possibility of helping out as needed in other areas. I have been in architecture longer than I hoped so I am eager to jump ship but I am very hesitant this is the right place to do it, and whether I will be able to get a job I really like later if I take this now.

May 1, 2021 - 4:40pm

Well, in Florida (my home state), free standing retail is big business. As is related "horizontally intense" developments that are just larger, magnified versions of a free standing single tenant development.

If they will let you truly work as a development manager (i.e. work on acquisitions, design, leasing, etc.) and not just a construction manager, worth considering for sure. Otherwise you are just exiting architecture. To be fair, architecture + const. mngt is not a bad set of skills to marry together, but you would still be looking to "jump" to development later on. If that is path at this firm, and the firm has a decent repute even if small, then also worth considering. 

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