I have CRE experience, but only for my family's small CRE business, how can I work for a big firm?

ESKRE's picture
Rank: Chimp | 6

I've been working for my family's CRE business for a couple years (though I've been assisting in different ways since I was a kid, but I'm not exactly counting that as experience), but the company is relatively small in terms of employee size. We have a few large retail properties but everything is done by my father and I, save for a very part-time accountant. My experience with CRE has, obviously, been extremely limited and I've become interested in branching out. Hell, reading this forum has been eye opening in how little I know about how big firms, REPE, etc. operate.

I'm interested in getting into bigger firms, possibly a REPE firm, but I have no experience doing real estate in a more "traditional" way. It seems like my best shot at getting a job with a big firm is as a broker, but I'm not actually interested in being a broker, and I'm not even sure if I'm able to transition from broker to a role one I'd prefer. Is there anyone with a similar experience who made a move? Anyone who started as a broker and switched out to REPE/Dev/anything? Any suggestions for what I can do?

(Apologies in advance if this post is all over the place, I got distracted several times while typing this out)

Comments (10)

Apr 12, 2017

How good are your technical skills?

Regardless, it's going to be tough to get people to notice your resume. I'd start by talking to people in the business that you already know.

Best Response
Apr 13, 2017

I actually think you would have a very interesting story and perspective to sell to potential employers. I definitely don't think your CRE experience is "extremely limited" if you have been around it your whole life and been closely involved with a small family company doing a bit of everything.

I am assuming by your vague description that your family company is a developer/operator? In that case, it should not be difficult to play up your experience wearing many hats for a small company. Emphasize the specifics of the large retail deals/properties you have been involved with, and how you have "in the trenches" experience.

I have no idea what market you are in, but I think a lot of brokerage/development/operators and maybe even repe companies would value your real world experience in an analyst role. If you lack technical skills, they aren't hard to learn the basics on your own and pick up on the job.

To assuage your brokerage fears, if the shop is large and reputable it will be unlikely that you would be hired directly as a broker with no prior brokerage experience. An analyst role with a large reputable broker should in no way pigeon-hole you into brokerage, but will give you a good taste of the more institutional/corporate side of things. To be honest I think there are probably tons of members on here who would choose to work for the family company and grow and improve it, but you can always return to that.

Good luck!

    • 4
Apr 13, 2017

I have to ask, why do you say an analyst role with a large reputable broker would NOT pigeon-hole you into a brokerage? Through comments and a thread I created on WSO, it seems this forum thinks the opposite. I just wanted to get your perspective.

Apr 13, 2017

I guess I should qualify that my comment really applies to analysts with investment sales and maybe capital markets groups, but in my experience those make up the bulk of analyst positions with large brokers. *Reasearch * analyst positions with leasing/tenant rep teams are more likely to get pigeon-holed as they are less technical roles imo.

As an analyst within an investment sale group, you will essentially be underwriting properties and creating materials to highlight and support the underwriting and provide details about the deal. The level of detail and perspective won't necessarily be the same as on the principal side, but the functionality is very similar. For example, an analyst with JLL/CBRE's multifamily group will have underwritten countless deals and have a great understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a multifamily property/deal. An analyst with an industrial sales team will have industrial underwriting experience and a sophisticated understanding of industrial leases. In addition to skills, you will be constantly interfacing with other sides of a deal which can lead to interesting networking opportunities.

If anything, you should be more worried about getting pegged to a property type and not brokerage. I think this is still pretty avoidable as there are groups that work on multiple property types and the skills are often transferable between types to some extent, but in my experience maybe only half of a typical analyst pool with a large investment sales group goes on to be producers.

    • 3
Sep 22, 2017

I apologize for my extremely late replies. Some substantial personal problems came up.

Beers:

I actually think you would have a very interesting story and perspective to sell to potential employers. I definitely don't think your CRE experience is "extremely limited" if you have been around it your whole life and been closely involved with a small family company doing a bit of everything.

I am assuming by your vague description that your family company is a developer/operator? In that case, it should not be difficult to play up your experience wearing many hats for a small company. Emphasize the specifics of the large retail deals/properties you have been involved with, and how you have "in the trenches" experience.

I have no idea what market you are in, but I think a lot of brokerage/development/operators and maybe even repe companies would value your real world experience in an analyst role. If you lack technical skills, they aren't hard to learn the basics on your own and pick up on the job.

To assuage your brokerage fears, if the shop is large and reputable it will be unlikely that you would be hired directly as a broker with no prior brokerage experience. An analyst role with a large reputable broker should in no way pigeon-hole you into brokerage, but will give you a good taste of the more institutional/corporate side of things. To be honest I think there are probably tons of members on here who would choose to work for the family company and grow and improve it, but you can always return to that.

Good luck!

I suppose what I mean by "extremely limited" is that it's extremely limited compared to a large firm, and entirely not traditional. Neither my father nor myself has any relevant background training, nor do we really know how other people in the industry do it. A lot of what we've done is simply us discussing whether or not we think it's a good idea. I'm not sure how well this would translate to a big company when interviewing, if an answer is along the lines of "I bought (x) property because my father and I thought it would be a good idea based on gut feelings and what we thought of the area/demographics/etc. without any actual modelling," if you know what I mean. Not that I'm delegitimizing it, more that I assume that's not exactly an acceptable way to make purchases or investments or developments in a non-family firm.

It's also that I don't want to work for my family's business and grow it, too, tbh. Without getting too much into it, there are both family issues and health issues that are making us essentially put any growth on hold, unfortunately. While it's great that the business is doing well enough for us to not need to grow, for my personal development I'd rather be workin

Thank you so much for the reply, by the way! I'll definitely be looking for an analyst position, then.

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Sep 22, 2017

From my perspective, the first and most obvious thing you should do is teach yourself modeling. Since your family currently owns tangible assets and you presumably know them inside and out, this should provide a good starting point. You know (or have access to the info) what your family paid for each of the assets, and you know the cash flows since you have operating statements at the projects historically. So put together a DCF, sources & uses, and IRR matrix based on different assumptions that you make on income growth and your exit/sale prices. That should get you started and it should be relatively painless since you know the assets. Then you have something technical to speak to in interviews. Good luck.

    • 2
Sep 23, 2017

Take over your pop's business and turn it into a fucking empire. Create something huge from what you already have and you can call it your own.

Plus, there is always that small chance that you will hate working a real 9-5 in a big corp role coming from working within your family's business.

Sep 25, 2017
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