Convince me to stay in CRE

I'm a second year analyst at a CRE hybrid Dev/Investment shop, and the work is good- I enjoy it, and have no big desire to leave. However, I have tons of close friends who went into some form of tech sales, and they all seem to make at least 1.5x of what I make (plus work about 10-20 hours less per week ). 

Am I crazy to think about transitioning? I feel like I'm getting some grass is greener mindset, but they all say they enjoy their job, and will only make significantly more in the next couple of years. 

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Mar 19, 2021 - 1:25pm

I'll claim ignorance on the difficulty of breaking in as tech sales has never been an area of interest. I would find it surprising that a tech sales job paying ~$120k (I'm assuming OPs salary is around $80k) is easy to get/not competitive without any experience in the industry unless the jobs are in the Bay Area and then $120k is like making $60k elsewhere.

Mar 9, 2021 - 1:01pm

Do what you want to do with your life. Don't rely on the opinions of random internet people. 

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 1:07pm

What CRE said, but you're chasing short term gains. First of all they're in tech sales, sales which to me means that income isn't guaranteed. You're in a great spot especially now with COVID and where the real estate market is. Are you really going to leave for a potential 50% raise and possibly less hours. What are you going to do with that extra time? I never got this, depending on where you are work hard, put in the hours, buy real estate assets (that you understand bc you have experience in the industry)/invest if you want to make more money and move up.

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 2:11pm

Fair points. I guess I just get caught up in the fact that a lot of them are on track to make $3-400K by about 30, which seems like the upper end of a lot of CRE comps unless you're c-suite/partner or a successful broker... 

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 2:16pm

Sure, brokers aren't really making that unless you'e at a top shop in NYC but on the principal side it can be done. It matters what your goals are, if you're ambitious and want to make as much money as you can (like I do) $3-400k doesn't seem like much. My goal is $10's of millions. A lot of people have become very successful from a lot worse than where you are, no reason you can't but you have to be dedicated and sacrifice things.

Mar 9, 2021 - 2:22pm

Analyst 2 in RE - Comm

 I enjoy it, and have no big desire to leave.

So, not to point out the obvious, but doing tech sales is very different than being a CRE analyst. Different skill sets, work modes, knowledge bases, etc. 

It sounds like you are doing well in your current role, do you think you can be a top performer in tech sales? Does that field excite you? Is that the long-term career you want?

If the answers are yes, then run don't walk! CRE isn't for everyone, and I'm not about to talk anyone into this field or out of it. You gotta do you after all. 

If the money is the main attractor, eh, I'd be hesitant (sales usually is not guaranteed income, but I don't know the tech world so I won't comment further). Before I really began progressing in my career, I had some friends who worked in timeshare sales. They made it sound really fun and glamorous and they made $250k a year or so they said (this was in a secondary/resort type city back in mid-2000s). I was like wow you get to work at a resort and make all this money talking about vacations, sounds cool.

Was kinda wanting to check it out.... until it hit me..... I'd have to fucking sell timeshares!!! Needless to say, I didn't do it, and am very happy I didn't do it. (NOTE - I am not trying to equate timeshare sales with tech sales, but just the "grass is greener" idea and allures of other worlds). 

CRE is more of a long-term progression game, especially on the buyside, sales is more immediate but harder to sustain year after year. Maybe buyside CRE life is not for you, so you legit might be better off doing something else. Too personal for me to if tech sales is it or not, but you should give plenty of thought to any moves. 

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 2:22pm

Finance / RE is an apprenticeship business. Young guys make less money and put in more hours so they can learn a ton, make connections and make the big bucks one day in the form of carry or fees. 

Sales does not have that path at all. Young guys can make great money but they will top out earlier on unless they start their own company, join a startup at the perfect time, etc.

If you were talking about lateraling to IB / corporate PE, that would be different. In those fields, you make better money than the tech sales guys when you're young and still have the potential to get carry and make huge sums of money in your 40s. But I don't want this to turn into a PE VS RE thread, the point is that you can make a ton of money on the backend of your career in finance.

Also, so what you want. If RE doesn't interest you, don't do it. 

Mar 9, 2021 - 2:44pm

Yes, please leave lol. One less mouth to feed or compete against for the chips.

But in all seriousness. Chill out. You like your work - stay the course and enjoy the ride. That's first and foremost. Secondly, Let me know how your friend's tech sales compensation stacks up against a principal at an investment or development shop. 

I had a flair for languages. But I soon discovered that what talks best is dollars, dinars, drachmas, rubles, rupees and pounds fucking sterling.
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  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 2:50pm

That's a valid point. I guess the consideration would be that there is probably a similar likelihood that someone raises to VP of Sales (or something similar) in the same time frame the someone attains partner. With that said, partner at a dev/inv firms comp is kinda opaque, whereas vp of sales at a large tech firm will probably be making $1m+... but I definitely understand what you're saying.

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 2:51pm

Account Exec/Account Manager/Sales Engineer/BizDev roles at tech firms

Mar 9, 2021 - 3:38pm

Actually in a very similar spot. Currently am fixing my resume to start applying to tech sales jobs. I do not work directly in the real estate industry, rather in a real estate adjacent industry, so it's a little easier for me to make the decision. My reasoning is that I'll regret not trying tech sales/another job and if I hate it I can try clawing my way back into CRE, but if you have a great gig right now I'd say really think about it. I've been thinking about this decision for a few months and have really nailed the pros and cons. Feel free to PM me.

Mar 9, 2021 - 4:24pm

The problem with real estate in general is if you are not the ultimate owner\principal then you were always going to be part of the cost structure and part of what they're trying to squeeze down in order to make more money. Ultimately real estate is a financial engineer in game and keeping your employees as cost down is part of the game. I think in tech sales the team members are actually part of the business expansion

Mar 9, 2021 - 4:32pm

The thing I really didn't like about commercial real estate as it was so darn boring. Actually I think affinity for real estate It's something that is just natural to some people and unnatural to others. I think real estate is just so tedious and boring, and I never wanna see another building again. Meanwhile my wife just loves real estate. So you either like it or hate it

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Mar 27, 2021 - 11:35pm

It's all subjective.  Currently in RSSG, which is supposedly the most interesting / intellectually stimulating group in IB.  I think that it's boring af - not because it's easy and certainly not because I'm super smart.  It's just not particularly interesting work.  On the other hand, my last job was at a NNN BTS retail developer and I found that to be incredibly interesting work.  

Mar 9, 2021 - 7:20pm

It's not the 80/90s anymore the money is in tech just go into tech sales make bank then invest in real estate. I would def say real estate has more career longevity but honestly if you're good then you'll succeed in any field

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 8:20pm

Same dude, my gf just switched into tech sales and is going to make the same as me in her second year, and shoot right past me in the 3rd and 4th (assuming she hits quota) :/

Most Helpful
  • Associate 2 in RE - Comm
Mar 9, 2021 - 9:48pm

What's holding you back at your current job? If you are in your early 20's, just gtfo and dont look back unless you really (I mean really as we can often do mental gymnastics to come up with reasons why we like CRE) like CRE and what you are doing. I am in my late 20's, getting married soon and not in a position to leave my job that gives me a high base. I have golden handcuffs with a 110K+ base and got a 50K bonus in 2020 of all years plus hoping for a bump in pay and/or promotion this year. However, I am burned out a little,  when I am working at midnight and just annoyed at stupid work related shit, I go on linkedin and see what else is out there. honestly, I am not finding a place that can pay me the high base I am getting. I have some personal circumstances that makes me turn down jobs that can pay a low base but can make it up with bonuses. This is one reason why I am staying. But honestly though, many do some mental gymnastics to put up with low pay, long hours etc. I get that the pitch (that we tell ourselves) is the equity, carry, invest in real estate in the future etc. But c'mon man cut the bullshit, development manager or head of acquisitions do not count. A very tiny portion go out and start their own company that one day becomes TCR, Invesco, etc. Vast majority of us would be W2/employees and get paid a bonus- acquisition/asset management, underwriters, etc. Heck an acquisitions gig at Investcorp will be a pipedream for many, forget about starting a company that becomes an Investcorp. This is the harsh reality check, it sucks but it's true. We can do mental gymnastics and convince oursleves otherwise but we are only fooling ourselves. This is a long winded rant but to your point yes I sometimes look at these tech sales/business development positions even in CRE, prop tech has become a fancy word for it, if it's a company/startup/product that I genuinely believe in ( just because I want out and I like sales does not mean I want to sell shit just for the sake of it) then yeah wont mind giving it a shot but it sure as heck match my current base pay at least. 

Mar 10, 2021 - 2:52am

I don't blame OP for thinking about leaving CRE, but I think just looking at comp and work hours in another field is not the right approach.  Should think beyond that next job and evaluate the career path. Is the tech sales job keeping an existing big fish client happy (say Microsoft)?  Or are you hustling for new accounts (blasting emails and LinkedIn to mom-and-pop businesses and joe schmos)?  Tech sales, biz dev, and partnerships all kind of sound the same to me, so check the compensation arrangements (more sales/upside or more salaried)?  Enterprise software sales can be brutally cut throat and high turnover. 

The same questions about staying in CRE or leaving could be brought up in later times of your career too.  

- after your first job in CRE

- during grad school

- after you are facing an advancement ceiling or don't like the work environment, or you're bored

- after you made some money and/or have holdings in CRE, and want to try something else

I think your exit would depend on your feelings of following questions about career impact and investment prospects:

- is the market priced to perfection or do you believe there's a boom market somewhere anytime?

- is it possible for you create a brand that adds considerable value or is the brand indistinguishable and values are based on market forces predominantly?

- how would you feel about taking personal recourse on debt in 2015 vs 2021, if you did not have the luxury of seeing the future?

- how much do you attribute outsized wealth creation in CRE to be about luck or skill?  Obviously it is some of both, but what is your weighting?

- how would you feel if you were shut out of CRE for the rest of your career if you left now?

- what alternative career paths do you have?

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
Mar 10, 2021 - 6:37pm

I work in tech sales. It's actually really competitive and not a walk in the park. Not sure where you are seeing these guys who are guaranteed 300k by 30. Sure it's possible, but by no means the norm. 

Just because their OTE is that high doesn't mean they will make that. I have a friend at oracle with a 280k OTE, yet he won't make more than his base this year. My other friend had a 160k OTE and made 80k because of covid. Last year both of these guys were massively successful.

Plenty of people fail out of and drop out of tech sales too, so make sure its something you want to do. There isn't a ton of job security unless you are selling. 

Go do it if you want, but by no means is tech sales the holy grail of riches and easy money. Yes it pays well and yes often the hours are less, but there are downsides too, like getting fired because you missed quota. 

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Mar 10, 2021 - 6:42pm

Appreciate the candid response. I totally understand that.... tech sales is by no means a walk in the park, and you have to be ready to grind day in and day out. I was more just comparing it to CRE where you are also grinding hard (and usually for more hours/week which is exhausting), and the comp drags behind until the more senior years of your life. Definitely a lot to think about... just seems like there may be more upside in tech sales (tech in general), but maybe I'm off on that or having some grass is greener syndrome?

Mar 10, 2021 - 6:52pm

I mean that's true, but also grass is greener syndrome. Most of the 250k+ will be out of reach for 5, probably closer to 10 years unless you get extremely lucky. Even then you might make 90k one year, 200k the next, then get fired and make 70k because you are unemployed for 3-6 months. 

Once you're at a startup making 100 calls a day and no one wants your product, then you'll come back here and ask about comp in CRE again. 

Again, not dissuading you -- its a good career. But by no means will it make you rich quick or easy. 

Mar 11, 2021 - 2:40pm

Not saying I don't believe you or that this comment is a lie, but how are you going to comment this "Actually I sell enterprise software. Work 35 hours a week while watching netflix at home." and then turn around and comment what you posted above? I understand every job, including tech sales, can be tough and competitive and every job can have downtime, but you seem to be contradicting yourself. Again, not coming from a place of hostility.

Mar 11, 2021 - 2:45pm

No you're right. The job I have right now is at a major player and is easy. I got lucky with this job. But for every job like this there are others where the people are working 10 hours a day to make things happen and nowhere near goal. I've been there before and its not fun. 

You could have a good territory, good product, and people just buy your product because it is good working 15-20 hours a week. You can also be at a company where they promise you the world but then learn that the average is tenure is 9 months and no one hits quota ever. 

While some jobs are easy money (generally once you have years of exp), a lot more aren't. Again a good career, but its generally not some magic moneyland unless you get lucky. 

Mar 15, 2021 - 11:00pm

I went from working at Greystar to working for a public tech co in tech sales. 

Work in tech, bring home BDR/AE/AM money, then invest in real estate. That's what I've done so far, currently my portfolio consists of 22 units as it minimizes the risks and I still get the benefits of investing in real estate. Writing off 20k off my W-2 bc of bonus depreciation and a cost seg study :) 

Be careful what you wish for, I made about 92% of my OTE bc COVID. It's not at all a walk in the park and requires a lot of grit. 

Mar 16, 2021 - 7:53pm

I'd love to hear more about your transition. Were you doing investments/developments at greystar? What made you decide to go into tech instead of continuing down the path of real estate when you had a great resume to catapult you?

Also what was the transition to tech like? What was your prep, how long did it take to get a tech role, and what was your starting salary for tech?

Would appreciate any insight you have.

Mar 11, 2021 - 3:05pm

Stay the course in CRE unless you might find yourself getting back in a junior role if you want to come back.  CRE is a fraternity, the odds are in your favor long term if you stay the course if you work with a solid group!  If you leave, and try to get back in 2 to 5 years later, you will have folks doubting your skill set.  While the job isn't rocket science, old heads will make you fight for every last dollar if or when you want back in.  

I left the industry and got back in after a few years, you will miss CRE once you leave.  I didn't enjoy my job doing tech finance at a FAANG type company! Found it boring as fk!!!  Seeing the asset and knowing I was able to create value in a city or being part of the process to execute a transaction is pretty freaking awesome!

Good luck!


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Mar 20, 2021 - 10:56pm

I am starting tomorrow working an asset management/acquisitions role after years of working in accounting. This is exactly why I wanted out of accounting. Accounting was too much focus on the accounting and not enough about the asset. I would be excited to talk about the buildings and my team would be more excited about how we record the depreciation. your comment reaffirms my decision to switch even if it means less money in the short term. 

Thank you!

Mar 18, 2021 - 11:15am

I would recommend jump if it makes monetary sense and it improves the quality of your life. And with your existing background in CRE, you might even be able to use that skill to get onboard the newer CRE online platforms with a technically background added. Like someone above said the hours don't go away, I have seen senior MD's reply to emails at 2am in the morning! At the end of the day, it is for you to decide what you want, no point staying and regretting later about a missed opportunity.

Mar 19, 2021 - 1:58pm

Yeah I'm in tech sales and it is fucking hard. Granted I'm sitting on my couch making cold calls and watching the tournament, but still. Nothing is guaranteed and a lot of companies bullshit you about getting promoted quickly and will gladly drag you along as a BDR/SDR as long as possible. Territory, timing, and luck.

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