Is MBA required for Real Estate Finance? If yes, then does the location matter?

Hello All, I have a 2 fold question. But let me tell about myself first. I am working for the Real Estate division of a well-known bank (one of the largest in this country). It is a senior analyst position for the Residential Real Estate division. But I want to go to the Commercial side as a Commercial/Wholesale banker. So my queries are:

1) Do I need my MBA? I know MBA is very much needed if I wanted to go to IB or corporate finance or PE, but for entering the Real Estate world do I really need an MBA as well? Just asking because I am not that young (in my 30s) anymore and it is a huge time and money commitment. But also I am planning to change my field so it might be necessary. And even if it is not an absolute necessity, will it at least make it easier to enter the field? Also remember that I am planning to do an Executive MBA (considering my age Full time might not be a good option). Finally, considering my background (10+ years, mostly in the financial services; lots of Analytics experience, last 3 years in Residential Mortgage division) is it at all possible to enter Commercial RE field without an MBA? Let me know what your thoughts.

2) Now, ultimately I am planning to move and join the Commercial RE world in South FL. I have family there, plus it is a great location for Commercial RE; lots of projects are taking place all the time. So, shall I try to move down there first, get an MBA from universities down there (Florida Atlantic, Florida International, U Miami, UCF etc.) and start doing my networking? I heard RE is very much localized business, so the more people I know in that area will be helpful, isn't it? But the downside is, there are no "good" schools down there. I mean forget Harvard, Columbia, Wharton standard; not even a school compared to the standards of Duke, UNC, U Virginia. Or shall I try to get my MBA from a reputed school first, say of the likes of Duke, UNC, U VA (or if I am lucky then Cornell or Columbia) and then try to move down there? But then I lose out on networking and staying close to family and friends. How much advantageous (or disadvantageous) will it be if I get my part time MBA from one of the South Florida schools, provided I want to be in the Commercial RE world around there?

Any thoughts/suggestions are more than welcome.
Feel free to ask me in case of any more clarifications.

Thanks to you all.

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Comments (16)

May 25, 2016 - 3:50pm

The short answer is no, an MBA is not required for CRE Finance, you can break in utilizing your network. However, if you are stuck on the residential side of things, an MBA may be extremely helpful into breaking in on the commercial side. If you can get a name brand MBA then you could potentially enter any market you wish; however, if you are trying to break into the SE Florida market, then all of the schools you mentioned will have good programs and alumni all over.

I would suggest trying to break in with your network before spending hundreds of thousands on an MBA, but going back to school can never be frowned upon.

May 25, 2016 - 5:14pm

Thanks for your quick reply.
So if I decide to do an MBA (concentrating Real Estate of course) which schools would you prefer?
Duke, UNC, U Va kind or the ones are less prestigious but already located in South FL (FAU, FSU, U Miami) and hence provide a better opportunity to network locally? (And not considering Columbia or Cornell here, because I think they will trump both the groups)
Just wanted to clarify!!
Also unlike IB or PE how much does the brand of the school matter in Commercial Real Estate Finance (say to become a Commercial banker for Wells Fargo in Ft Lauderdale)?

May 25, 2016 - 9:59pm

Unlike IB or PE, the brand name is not going to matter nearly as much. CRE is based on relationships, as much as anything else. Clearly, being a smart, educated, hardworking guy will help immensely, but foster long term relationships with brokers and developers and you will have a great career.

Furthermore, Duke, UVA and UNC will all provide ample opportunities anywhere in the country especially the south. I would lean towards UNC though, they have an amazing RE school, which places well all over the country.

May 26, 2016 - 3:40pm

Long story short: You don't need an MBA, but it's a great way to gain the financial experience. Location matters insofar as which school you can attend and who you can network with while there, but at the end of the day, it's your personal drive and networking skills that will make whichever location you choose worth your while.

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May 30, 2016 - 10:58am

Also, check out University of Florida's MBA. It is ranked very well compared to the other schools in the state. Also, I think UF has either an executive or professional MBA option based out of South Florida. My personal recommendation is that all MBAs aren't created equal, so if you are going to make the investment, get the best bang for your buck. UF also has a pretty good Master's in Real Estate program.

I agree the MBA will help transition. However, honestly the MBA or MSRE is only as good as the school's alumni network and brand. I looked into all the FL schools you mentioned, and UF is really the only program I choose from the state.

Hope this helps.

Where are you currently living?

May 31, 2016 - 8:42am

First of all, Somak-Halder a MBA, a MSRE, or a MRED is in no way required for real estate. You aren't exactly being a career changer either - I enjoy looking down my nose at residential as much as the next guy, but from the sound of it you're just going to be switching from financing one product type to financial another. It'll take a bit of study, but it's not like your starting point is advertising or PR or Starbucks. I think you'd be more than able to get a job without further education.

All that said, if you want to go the education route, I would recommend going to school in the Florida - both from the proximity advantages that you mentioned and the alumni networks you'll run into. UF might not be a "great" school but it has a massive alumni network in Florida and both their MBA and Master of Real Estate programs have access to it. Miami's MBA and Master of Real Estate alumni network is also pretty impressive. Finally, the [email protected] online option might be appropriate for you as well. It's the "top ranked online MBA" - for whatever that's worth - but most importantly it won't say online on your transcript or your resume. It'll just show that you got a MBA from Kenan Flagler.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

May 31, 2016 - 1:39pm

Thanks a lot to all of you who contributed.
I really appreciate it.
Well so it is clear from the discussion that name brand MBA is not that important in CRE, networking and connections go a long way there. So I guess it doesn't really matter to get an MBA unless it is from one of the Ivy Leagues. The exceptions seem to be UNC-Chapel Hill and U of Florida. They seem to have higher value.
But U of FL is located in Gainesville, which is pretty much up in the north where as I am planning to stay and work in South FL (say anywhere between WPB and Miami). Chapel Hill is even further away. So not sure how much feasible it will be to travel there from South FL every week for my Executive MBA. And not considering flying, because then I have to compare it with any school in Mid-Atlantic or even Northeast (Miami to NY is only 3 hours).
Also not a big fan of online MBA as well. There I will be losing out on the main advantage of my MBA altogether, which is networking.
And lastly, to answer AbeerwithCarlSagan, I am right now located in Charlotte, NC; working for one the big ones.
Any more thoughts/suggestions?

May 31, 2016 - 1:56pm
Somak-Halder:
Any more thoughts/suggestions?

Find the places you would want to work in Miami. Look at where the partners went to school and where the associates and VPs are from. That should be a good idea.

I know my summer firm recruits from the Ivys and the local big name schools and considers both on a pretty even level. Almost every year they hire from an almost 50/50 split. It's fantastic for me, as I am not from an Ivy, but I always wonder what the Wharton kids think about it.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

  • 1
Jun 1, 2016 - 2:58am

Somak, U of Florida has a professional MBA with an option specifically based in S. Florida

http://floridamba.ufl.edu/professional-south-florida/

Not trying to push you into UF. Just wanted to give you info since you're moving down there potentially. Full disclosure, although not at all a recruiter for UF or biased in any way, I did get my UG there.

Ultimately, decision is yours. Best of luck to you, brother. Hopefully this helps.

Jun 1, 2016 - 9:50am

Hey thanks a ton. Didn't know such a program existed. I will certainly look into it in details.
And hey, there is no shame in marketing for our alma-matter. It gives us a chance to give back, in whatever small way possible. Go Gators :-)

But my only concern is, will the best of the faculties of U of FL be present at their South Florida location? We know the best faculties are almost always connected to the main campus. So much easier to mingle and network with them over there. Also a lot of big Network events (consider the black tie events) happen in the main campus as well. So I am thinking that I may be missing out on those.

Anyhow thanks for your reply. Now I am wondering what other big name schools have their satellite campuses in South Florida. Duke, Yale, Cornell? Anybody know of anything??

Aug 20, 2016 - 8:47pm

How important is MBA for Real Estate Finance? And how much does the location matter? (Originally Posted: 05/25/2016)

Hello All, I have a 2 fold question. But let me tell about myself first. I am working for the Real Estate division of a well-known bank (one of the largest in this country). It is a senior analyst position for the Residential Real Estate division. But I want to go to the Commercial side as a Commercial/Wholesale banker. So my queries are:

1) Do I need my MBA? I know MBA is very much needed if I wanted to go to IB or corporate finance or PE, but for entering the Real Estate world do I really need an MBA as well? Just asking because I am not that young (in my 30s) anymore and it is a huge time and money commitment. But also I am planning to change my field so it might be necessary. And even if it is not an absolute necessity, will it at least make it easier to enter the field? Also remember that I am planning to do an Executive MBA (considering my age Full time might not be a good option). Finally, considering my background (10+ years, mostly in the financial services; lots of Analytics experience, last 3 years in Residential Mortgage division) is it at all possible to enter Commercial RE field without an MBA? Let me know what your thoughts.

2) Now, ultimately I am planning to move and join the Commercial RE world in South FL. I have family there, plus it is a great location for Commercial RE; lots of projects are taking place all the time. So, shall I try to move down there first, get an MBA from universities down there (Florida Atlantic, Florida International, U Miami, UCF etc.) and start doing my networking? I heard RE is very much localized business, so the more people I know in that area will be helpful, isn't it? But the downside is, there are no "good" schools down there. I mean forget Harvard, Columbia, Wharton standard; not even a school compared to the standards of Duke, UNC, U Virginia. Or shall I try to get my MBA from a reputed school first, say of the likes of Duke, UNC, U VA (or if I am lucky then Cornell or Columbia) and then try to move down there? But then I lose out on networking and staying close to family and friends. How much advantageous (or disadvantageous) will it be if I get my part time MBA from one of the South Florida schools, provided I want to be in the Commercial RE world around there?

Any thoughts/suggestions are more than welcome.
Feel free to ask me in case of any more clarifications.

Thanks to you all.

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