Real Estate Development Hierarchy


I currently work as an acquisitions analyst at a private real estate investment company that specializes in multifamily apartment complexes.

I am interested in switching to development (with a development firm) but have had little success finding the hierarchy of real estate development companies. Can someone fill me in on the path (i.e. analyst, associate, etc.)?


Comments (19)

Jan 18, 2017

Analyst->Sr Analyst/Associate->Project Mgr/Development Mgr -> Development Director -> VP Development -> SVP -> Principal/EVP/MD (I feel like the title at the top of the food chain varies the most).

There could be a clear line between a Sr Analyst and Associate at some firms. I also see Project Manager being more of a construction management title and Development Mgr is more common, but I have seen PM at some firms. Generally I feel like this is pretty much how it goes, with Development Mgr level being responsible for, and primarily leading an individual project with the help of Analyst/Associate(s). While a DD may oversee a few different projects at once along with supervising some DMs, and a VP is responsible for an entire geographical territory and all the projects within it. The guys at and over VP are probably more strategy focused, sourcing opportunities, and only getting more involved in the details on the bigger projects.

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Best Response
Jan 18, 2017

You also forgot the classic model that goes:

Guy with the money
His son

But in reality it for the most part follows the track you've laid out, other than that after the "Associate/ Project Manager Stage," You can end up as a VP of Capital Markets, Ops, Acquisitions, Property Management, Leasing. That part just kind of depends on what they need and what you're best at.

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Jan 18, 2017

So true haha

Jan 18, 2017

Titles change so much from company to company in development that it's difficult to say. You need to dig into the position itself. I've applied for analyst, associate, assistant project manager, and project manager roles that are more or less identical.

There is no real industry-wide analyst -> associate track like in banking or PE (although it does exist at some places). Also, as @Swarles Barkley said, some companies call their construction guys project managers. In other companies, the project manager is a "pure" development role. Sometimes a project manager can be akin to a development associate. Sometimes it's more on a development manager level.

It's all very random

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Jan 18, 2017

Yeah I see Development Analyst and Development Associate being the exact same job in most cases firm to firm actually. Some places do have that progression at the junior level for growth though, more so at the bigger shops.

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Jan 18, 2017

Thanks for the responses. Would it be unusual for someone to go from a role such as mine to something in development?

Jan 18, 2017

How long have you been working?

Jan 18, 2017

2 years

Jan 18, 2017

Nah. You need to actually know some things about development though.

Jan 18, 2017

I'm currently in Georgetown's Masters in Real Estate program and have the option of concentrating in development. I'm undecided on whether to do the development focus or the more broad real estate finance focus. It seems like most people in the program are doing development though.

Jan 19, 2017

If the numbers/analyst background is your strength, how about finding a shop that does full spectrum stabilized core acquisition to development. That way, you can get in as an analyst, cook numbers for a while and then maybe get to work with IO's on the development side running their numbers. The hierarchy thing is sooo convoluted in RE that you should not fixate on titles at all, but more on the role. So don't eliminate any positions until you go interview and find out more. Thats where you can express interest in development and see whats up.

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Jan 21, 2017

The career titles advancement seem to be higher on the Acquisitions/Investments side (of existing properties) than on Development where the DD or MD might have 10-15+ years of development experience. That's because it seems to take longer to gain mastery in development and it is more of an apprenticeship.

In RE development shops that really value the grad degree (look at founders and c-suite bios), Associate would be a post-MBA/MSRED hire. Analysts who want to avoid having to get a MBA can do it, but I see it particularly rare these days.

If you have a fall back plan, working for your dad's company, then that's where my peers without MBA's eventually go after gaining experience. I hardly work with anyone with those family options anymore unless they are an analyst.

I had a similar repe acq background as OP and then went into development. Great background. Very useful for front end work like land Acquisitions, equity/debt sourcing, two very important components of the investment cycle. You can then migrate to more development tasks.

There is a natural tension that I've faced about what your role is. Eventually your firm will want to silo you in either land acq or dev. I've seen this happen to other people and myself. Your personality might dictate where you end up. I will say though, having a strong land acq and capital markets background with dev experience can help you with starting your own firm one day.

The question becomes: what do you find more appealing, picking the clubhouse finishes or chasing a CBD condo tower site with a 15% chance of execution? The answer is where you will end up in 7 years.

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Jan 23, 2017