Help Deciding on Job Offers

Hey everyone. Need some advice on which position you'd want to take on. I am concerned about which one offers better exit opps, growth, etc. 

I have 2 job offers outstanding and having trouble deciding. Maybe this is a no-brainer. I am a new graduate, btw. 

Job 1: Debt underwriting for affordable housing at a BB

  • Pay is $80-85k. Located in a city in the south that I do not prefer (think Atlanta, St.Louis, Nashville, Charleston)

  • What I like: Pay. It is at a BB, and I think has good growth opportunities (?).

  • What I do not like: Location. The office is in the middle of the suburbs. Affordable housing focus (worried it'll constrict my exit opp or growth). 

Job 2: CMBS Analyst at one of the Big 3 Credit Rating Agencies

  • Pay is $65k. Located in downtown Chicago (which I prefer). 

What I like: Workplace culture, connections with lots of different RE players, exposure to all asset classes

What I do not like: Much lower pay than Job 1, especially when you take locations into account. I believe there is limited growth in a credit rating agency, too. Seems like you move up to Senior Analyst and hit a ceiling for a while. 

Honestly, I am just concerned I am going to be missing out on opportunities that are present in big cities in NYC and Chicago, and I'll be isolated out in this smaller southern city, focusing on a very niche sector of real estate (affordable housing). If that is the case, then I want to know what my exit opportunities are, or jobs I could focus on within my BB to get me out of the south and exposed to more asset classes. I was told I would be underwriting my own deals at the BB within 1 to 1.5 years, which I think would be pretty impressive vs. just assigning ratings to loans. 

I really am not sure what my goals are. Probably CMBS Lending because I'd enjoy all the asset class exposure and traveling. I think if I understand affordable housing and the whole LIHTC process through and through, then I can prove I am competent to handle CMBS Loans! 

Any insights into CMBS Lending growth and pay ranges would be appreciated. Thanks everyone. 

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Comments (15)

Nov 19, 2021 - 10:49am

It's your first job. The learning experience is more geared on how to actually act in an office than the real estate you're learning. While the pay is lower at the credit rating agency, you can always move in a year. I do totally understand the difference is large (especially at 22). If you think you'll prefer Chicago and the culture at the firm in Chicago, go there (assuming you're able to live off you're lower salary). In the end, success will come more from being happy about location and day to day job than pay (unless you cannot live off the pay you are making). Within one year, maybe even less, you can jump to a cmbs firm making much more money. It'll be a great training ground. 

  • Intern in RE - Comm
Nov 19, 2021 - 12:14pm

Yeah, that is my concern. Working in a bustling city is more motivating than working in a small office in the suburbs...

However, I figure I am still young. I can go to Job 1 with the intention of transferring to a city like Chicago after a year or two. Use the small office in the burbs as motivation to work harder to attain a good position in a bigger city. I'll still be a young guy very early in his career, but with some great experience and probably some good money saved up! 

Gotta admit, though. I really was hoping to graduate and move right to a city! 

Thank you very much for this advice!

Nov 19, 2021 - 10:58am

I'm going to play Devil's advocate here. Comp and location aside working for a credit rating agency blows.


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Nov 22, 2021 - 5:42pm

Didn't say you couldn't. More saying that the work isn't really the most interesting. 


  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Nov 19, 2021 - 1:50pm

In both situations, the difference in pay will be minimized because it sounds like you plan on leaving fairly quickly from either job.

Youre comparing full year numbers when you may not even be in the job for a full year. Additionally, consider the cost of moving cities when looking at the affordable job. It literally cost me $8k to move from the east coast to the west coast. So pre-tax that's like $12-$15k.

So just reiterating what everyone else is saying. Do the job that sets you up best for your future. If you're really interested in Multifamily, affordable job could be good. I'm guessing this is Citi because they crush the affordable game.

If you're more interested in commercial / CMBS / debt funds, rating agency may be the way

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Nov 19, 2021 - 8:17pm

These offers are in completely different locations. You are comparing the South (suburbs as mentioned so not like downtown Charlotte) to Chicago in which you mention you prefer.

From a pure job stance, I would choose the BB. Affordable Housing is a mess to work in but it's valuable experience especially if you have plans to do Development down the road. Rating agencies are not that exciting either, not at all, but I have seen some exit to decent roles like a debt fund.

Nov 19, 2021 - 9:26pm

So my first job out of college was working at a Big 3 CRA on the CMBS team, think same one as your offer judging by the comp and now I work on the CRE Lending side at a BB.

Short answer is take the BB imo. Working at a rating agency is awful, comp sucks, bonus is trash and hours are rough since they're short staffed. You're just a machine in a cog and that's how I felt. Didn't really learn anything there.

Whereas working at the BB will give you better experience and a big name on your resume making it easier to lateral to another bank in a big city. Plus being an UW is a strong foundation to have in your career since you'll probably get to use Argus and other industry standards tolls. Don't worry too much about only doing MF, you can always jump to another shop where you'll get to work with more asset classes. But ultimately the fundamentals of UW stay the same.

Nov 20, 2021 - 9:55am

I had the same though once and I found out that secondary and tertiary markets are just as ripe with opportunities as the big ones, especially now with the internet. The downside of living in one of these large cities is that you're going to have much higher expenses, higher taxes, and more competition. Plus it seems like the Chicago salary is lower too which doesn't even make sense. 85K in a tertiary market is like 150K in Chicago in terms of the living expenses, you will have much more capital left over for external investments and like I said there are plenty of opportunities, many which are remote. 

Nov 20, 2021 - 12:25pm

There's always a minimum to money - above which everything is "comfortable". If you think both of the jobs offer that minimum and beyond, go for the one where you feel like you'd have a better social life and a love for the place. In this way, not only will you be able to have a bit of enjoyment before shit gets super serious - but also be able to train well for a potential future jobs in other areas. At the end of the day, don't think too much about it, if I were to be honest, flipping a coin in this situation would give you as intelligent a result as thinking really hard about it - life's harsh in that way. 

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Nov 21, 2021 - 5:02pm

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