I am not a realtor...

So I accepted an offer to work in a REPE firm. They focus on acquisitions, asset management, and portfolio management. Their portfolio is office, multifamily, and retail. They do not do any brokerage. Now when I tell people I will be working in real estate, the first question I get asked is "Oh, so you're going to be a realtor?" And it's understandable when my parents and their friends ask me as they've never worked in corporate or went to college but when I have friends that are studying architecture ask me that, it's annoying. Like c'mon man. You should know better. You're literally designing office buildings lol.

Anyways, do you guys think it'd be wrong or deceitful or misleading to say I work in private equity or finance? My only worry is I tell someone in finance I work in finance or private equity and when they realize I'm in CRE, they think I was trying to make it sound like I do something else. Obviously, I know this is a pretty unnecessary thing to even waste my time thinking about because it doesn't really matter what people think I do. I'm just curious because I have seen other people also being annoyed by being called realtors lol.

Comments (42)

Most Helpful
  • Prospect in PE - Other
Jan 13, 2021 - 7:53pm

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying you work in finance or private equity. Real estate is an asset class/coverage area within finance, just as tech, healthcare, industrials, consumer retail, etc.

No need to feel dishonest. Real estate is seen as separate because it's so distinct, but it's indisputably finance.

Jan 14, 2021 - 4:13am

Well.. I wouldn't say it's wrong to say you're in finance / private equity but it's just not the most direct answer I guess. A little bit like when a dentist says he's a doctor? I mean he's by no means wrong in any sense of the word but it's not the best description of what he does. Feel like what's best is just say you work in real estate private equity ("doctor for teeth").

  • Prospect in PE - Other
Jan 14, 2021 - 12:41pm

I'm not sure if you're just busting balls, but I'll try to explain. 

I think law makes a better analogy. Big law lawyers and public litigators, divorce attorneys, etc. are all indisputably lawyers, even though there are obvious differences. 

Real estate is an asset class/coverage area within finance and private equity the same way corporate law and real estate law fall under the general law umbrella. Look me in the eyes and tell me that REIB at JP or REPE at BX are less finance than S&T, PWM, ER, and corporate banking. Cutting out real estate groups is arbitrary, why bar real estate from being considered PE? Do you also not count infrastructure and O&G PE as PE? 

Jan 13, 2021 - 8:01pm

Same. Everyone thinks I want to sell houses (nothing wrong with selling houses) for a living. We're not fancy high finance people, we're in real estate, well you are, I'm just an intern. The fact that people don't really know what you do is something you'll just have to learn to live with. When an IB/PE/HF guy tells a girl what he does, the panties come off instantly. You tell a girl you're in real estate...well... you gotta try a little harder is all I'll say. Just know you're not alone, plenty of people can empathize with you.

Jan 13, 2021 - 9:51pm


When an IB/PE/HF guy tells a girl what he does, the panties come off instantly. You tell a girl you're in real estate...well... you gotta try a little harder is all I'll say.

Yeah, you need to take a girl to a fancy restaurant or bar and tell her "Yeah actually my company built this. We spent $100K on this marble floor and $50K on the water fountain outside"

Jan 13, 2021 - 8:39pm

LOL, this post! 

Seriously, I'm not sure what you are hoping for. "Regular" people have no idea about the world of high finance, real estate, development, or practically anything else. Tell them you work in finance, they will ask if you can help them open a checking account. Tell them you work on Wall Street and they will ask you if they should buy shares in Apple. It really doesn't change. If you think people outside this world understand investment banking, hedge funds (a meaningless term by itself), private equity, I can promise you they don't.

So you really have two choices, keep it simple.... say "I work in real estate" and let them think you sell houses (if you say real estate finance, they will ask if they should refi their mortgage). Or if you want to blow their mind... say "I work in office acquisitions" "capital markets" "asset management" or anything else more technical... just like you would at a networking event of real estate people. They will then either A. be interested (and you can explain), or B. say something like "oh that's nice" and go back to their lives (they will think you have some office job filing TPS reports all day). 

Trust me, the sooner you get to not caring, the better. Personally, I just say "I work in real estate development" and usually get a blank stare or maybe ask if I could help them with an addition on their house. Either way, I don't care. Depending on who I'm talking to, I'll just have fun with it. 

Jan 13, 2021 - 8:50pm

I know it's a stupid thought but it's there so I was curious to see what others on the forum think. I definitely see what you're saying, when I talk to my friends back home about investment banking and other high finance roles, they have no idea what that even is. The funniest to me is after they ask if I'm a realtor and I clarify I'm in COMMERCIAL real estate, they say "Ohhh, commercial real estate" as if that all of a sudden made them understand lol. And I definitely don't let it get to me, but I'm getting to the point where it's funny to me. Appreciate your thoughts!

  • VP in RE - Comm
Jan 13, 2021 - 10:14pm

Used to work in MF Investment Sales at one of the big 3. Typical conversation for me:

Person: What do you do for work?

Me: I sell apartment buildings

Person: Cool, I always wanted to buy one, whats the going rate?

Me: Umm so it really varies, it depends on variety of factors like # of units.

Person: Yea I am looking to invest in one near like a beach or something to rent out.

Me: Yea that can be anywhere from $15M to $50M. It depends on the number of units

Person: No I just want one unit

Me: So you want to buy a condo and rent it out?

Person: Yes. But not a condo specifically, like an apartment

Me: Yea...Umm. Thats different, we sell entire buildings to large funds and REITs

Person: So how much is a condo then?



  • Director in RE - Comm
Jan 14, 2021 - 9:04am

Play golf with strangers at my club all the time and I find best way to do short and sweet intro is, "I work in investments". If they're curious, they'll keep asking then you can be more specific ie. RE private equity, CRE broker, debt broker etc... 

Most people in this world don't give a rats ass about you so don't spend time thinking what they'd think if you say xyz, it's a waste of time. 

Jan 14, 2021 - 11:23am

My mother in law is still convinced I'm a realtor after ~7 years of trying to explain to her the most basic elements of CRE finance/acquisitions.  Just this past Christmas she asked me how much her house is worth and if I could help her find a new home in the neighborhood she's looking to downsize into.  When people ask what I do, I usually say "I work for a real estate investment company", and I think 3/4 of them still just assume I'm a realtor too.  I've learned to not care and laugh it off, because who really gives a shit anyway.

Jan 14, 2021 - 11:58am

Part of the reason or this is the fact that realtors themselves try to up their titles and say they are in investments, because they believe there is a stigma tied to it. Notice how CBRE, Newmark, etc. refer to themselves as Multifamily Capital Markets. Reality is that they sell apartments. Everyone finds creative ways to up their title. You can call a janitor, a technical operations consultant with a specialty in chemical solvents.


Jan 14, 2021 - 11:41am

OP fuck them. Saw you work in commercial real estate finance and call it a day.

The general public has never heard of private equity and vaguely has heard of hedge funds. Just do your thing. 

Jan 14, 2021 - 2:54pm

Agree with this. Not really worth the time to convince people of what your job really is, especially when most have little or no knowledge of what jobs in finance actually do.

Jan 14, 2021 - 11:53am

I feel your pain, when I worked in construction I either got people asking what trade I worked, as if I was a carpenter or plumber, or when I said I was a general contractor they assumed I built people's porches and home renovations. Once I explained that I built office buildings did they understand. 

Jan 14, 2021 - 7:21pm

Who cares. Here's a tip, just tell dumb people you're a janitor or think of another boring job so they leave you alone/don't ask questions.

  • 1
Jan 14, 2021 - 7:55pm

You learn to shake it off, but I'd be straight to the point on what you do. Once covid is over and you run into someone in the gym or anywhere out and about, or even friends who end up owning a building and end up listing and selling a building with a competitor because the message didn't come across the right way to them, that's not too fun

Jan 14, 2021 - 8:14pm

Why don't you describe what you actually do when people ask you that question? 


I manage a portfolio of real estate investments at such and such company

Jan 14, 2021 - 10:56pm

What's your concern with people thinking you are a realtor? That they'll think you're less educated? Less successful? Unless you're a pro athlete, international DJ or pornstar, most people don't care about what you do in the slightest and those who do aren't worth the time or energy. 

Your job is your business, not others and grown adults realize this. One of the most successful people I know cleans septic tanks. Not him personally of course, his company does and they make a killing. Do you think he's concerned with how people view his occupation? "Shit pays" as he says and it sure does.

There are a million ways to make a dollar and being a realtor is not a bad way. Get off your high horse, keep grinding and respect others. 

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