Real Estate Development - early foundations suggestions?

I am almost 1 year out of college and work full time at a smaller real estate development company that develops luxury apartments (mixed use) in the greater NY area. I've been working here for ~9 months now, and have been tasked in all kinds of areas of development - diligence, financial/pro forma work, project mgmt, design/creative, marketing, etc. 

Now that I kind of have my feet under me and understand how all these different facets work together; my boss is asking me how I'd like to approach the next step in my professional career (aka, what area/areas I'd like to focus on and begin to take ownership of going forward).

I know that a successful real estate developer must be able to wear all hats, but I was wondering if anyone could suggest where they'd recommend I build a strong foundation in these early stages in order to foster a successful real estate development career. 

Thank you all for the help in advance! 

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Comments (8)

Apr 7, 2021 - 12:13pm

Can't add anything as I've never worked for a developer - but it sounds like you have a really good boss! 

I suggest pursuing whatever you're most interested in, but I'd suggest to steer away from design/creative & marketing since those are usually outsourced at other developers and you may be pigeon holing yourself (unless you're specifically interested in those areas). 

Apr 8, 2021 - 11:05am


Project management, finance and diligence. Other stuff can be outsourced pretty easily. Those are the things you need to be excellent at.

I agree with this. 
Also, real estate development is about mitigating risks. Shadow your boss on this and understand the big picture. 

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Apr 8, 2021 - 10:47am

Understanding the proforma/financing of the deal was my foundation. It's a skill that allows you to provide value quickly and you gain an understanding of what drives returns. Now 4 years in development I wish I knew more about construction. The project management and due diligence work takes up most of my time but it takes years to get a deal rep so it's frustratingly slow to learn. The design and marketing stuff for multifamily is the "fun" stuff but after a few projects, picking out cabinets and countertops gets old. 

I would ask your boss what he recommends or what he focused on early (stroke the ego) and ask what the company needs most (be the person that helps fill in the gaps)

Finally, ask yourself if you couldn't do development what would you want to do and you will be close to your answer.  

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Apr 8, 2021 - 10:57am

So, may I suggest an alternative way to approach this....

Focus on the role/function that will be most beneficial to your firm at this time... If you jump to the critical area, you will maximize your chance of making a true impact, and thus getting promoted or getting better roles. If you can solve problems, be the "hero", and genuinely be part of the success, that is going to propel your career the most. 

If you want a "strong foundation"... be good at execution and implementation... so go where you have best chance of doing that. The skills/what side is super secondary at this point. 

Apr 8, 2021 - 11:55am

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