CRE for New Graduates - How to Hit the Ground Running?

MrWhite24's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 56

I am currently in my final year of my undergrad degree (business) and I am leaning towards CRE brokerage for my first job post-graduation. So far I've completed a 4-month internship as a Research Analyst with a boutique brokerage that specializes in retail - I would consider working here after graduation, however, I plan to move to a larger market in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto), and would like to move to the US ASAP (I know that's a bit of a pipe dream for now, given the difficulty of finding a visa sponsor). I also hope to switch to the development/investment side of the industry once I feel I've gained enough experience.
The next 4 months I will be doing another internship as a Research Associate with a municipal government-owned, economic development company, and after that I have another 4-month internship which I hope to work for a larger RE development/investment company
My question is how to maximize the likelihood of receiving a job offer in either of these markets (or in the US, if possible). Since I will have a decent amount of time during these next 8 months outside of work, are there any designations/certifications I should pursue? I considered writing my CFA level 1 exam this June, however after doing some research I realize it does not go very in depth on real estate finance. The CCIM designation seems to be more applicable, however it appears to be not as well known. Also, would it be worthwhile to get my real estate license before graduating, or will I likely be placed in an analyst role starting out?
Any advice is much appreciated!

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Comments (14)

Dec 28, 2017

what in cre do you want to do?

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Dec 28, 2017

In the long run I would like to work on the development side of things. In regard to position, I don't think I'm knowledgeable enough about development companies to choose one over the other. Eventually, I want to start my own company after gaining enough experience to be credible, and having enough contacts/money to work with.

In the short run I would like to do brokerage to learn about the industry further, as I believe there is more of an opportunity to network, and compensation is dependent on your efforts (whereas in a salaried position I would be stuck with an entry level salary). Sales skills will also be useful further down the road when I own my own company. As for asset class I have not really decided. I want to work in an asset class which has larger, more-complex deals so that I gain more experience in underwriting - not really the case in retail (in my experience). My assumption would be that either multifamily or investment would be my best bet.

Dec 28, 2017

Is your goal Canada or the US? I feel like the strategies for each are different.

Dec 29, 2017

My goal is definitely the US. I'm just considering a larger market in Canada if I'm unable to find a sponsor right out of undergrad, which is more likely than not.

Dec 29, 2017

Canadian investors bought a lot of US real estate cheaply during the last recession. I'd stay close to that capital. Plus the holidays and maternity leave seems to be more employee friendly.

Good luck. People seeking sponsorship in CRE I've seen most success with foreign or international companies in the US. HFF, Cushman Wakefield, Bulge Bank CRE lending like Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, off shore investors (Chinese, Russian/Slavic) with US offices. If I were you, I would try to work for a couple years at some big Canadian pension funds and then that could be your ticket to US gainful employment. Of all the off shore capital, I like working with Canadians the best. Time zone, personality, integrity.

    • 2
Dec 29, 2017

Thanks for the help, glad to hear Canadians aren't too difficult to deal with.

Any advice on how to make myself stand out when applying for such jobs (pension funds)? Should I maybe consider the CFA (atleast level 1) to get on with one of these companies, even though my long-term intention is to work in real estate?

In my current city, the provincial investment management company is essentially the only large financial institution with offices here, meaning its highly competitive to gain a position. I may have better luck in another city with a broader array of employers, although any edge I can get on my competition will still be beneficial.

It may also be worth mentioning that while there are no Bulge banks with offices in my current city, most of the international CRE companies are here (CBRE, CW, Colliers, JLL, etc.). How uncommon is it for someone to get a transfer between offices within the same company?

Dec 29, 2017

List of largest Canadian pension funds.
I have no idea how they hire in Canada. However, I've spoken and looked at backgrounds of folks who work at endowments on the real estate side. I think deal, transaction experience is good. Asset management. Pensions like to ask a lot of questions during due diligence, so I hope you have an inquisitive mind (seems like, you ask lots of questions, good).

I do see more CFA designations on the LP (limited partner side like in pensions) side. Although if your heart is not in high finance, I wouldn't go through the torture.

If I were you, I would just build up your experience. Brokerage, lender, investor, developer, etc. working in research is ok too. The more years you spend in Real Estate, and are committed to the industry, the more marketable you will be. If you want to get out of Canada, try it. I'd say, for getting a green card though Real Estate is a harder field to get it. More finance related, or international capital related, like I mentioned.

If you can afford, you can enter into a grad program in the US. There are threads on this forum for the MBA and MSRED.

Good luck young Mr White.

    • 3
Jan 2, 2018

I'm in CRE lending for one of the large international banks here in Toronto, so I really can't speak for the development/brokerage/pension fund side of things, but in my experience, it will be difficult to transfer to the US, but not impossible. Gonna throw some points at you here:
- odog raises some great points about building up experience so I'll second that. To stand out, you should be able to demonstrate your interest in RE and be able to articulate it as part of your story (i.e. why RE? why RE in Toronto/Vancouver/US? What do you hope to gain by working at xyz company? etc.) Read the news, do some basic research on who some of the big players are in whatever side of RE you want to be in.
- Regarding the US, I'm guessing it will be very unlikely that you'll be able to find a firm to sponsor you and be able to support the visa request. What makes you a better candidate than someone similarly qualified, but already is in the US? Best bet in my opinion is to work for a firm with a good presence in both countries and attempt a transfer after a few years of experience, and try for an experienced hire visa or the like. During those initial years, you need to perform well of course! Be indispensable, take on new projects and skills. All of that bolsters your application to transfer.
- I haven't really seen many CRE folks with a CFA, but obviously it doesn't hurt.

    • 1
Jan 2, 2018

Always buy the Orange Property Group.

Jan 2, 2018

So i shouldn't invest in an office building on Baltic Avenue?

    • 1
Jan 2, 2018

Alright you earned actual advice.

I think what you'll probably see suggested a lot on this forum is networking.

Best Response
Jan 2, 2018

Marry into a real estate family

    • 6
Jan 2, 2018

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