Real Estate Development: Whey, When, How and Where Did you Start ?


I've been working with a well known developer in the Northeast US and listened to his story as to how he got involved in this business and why. What's your Why, When, How and Where?

Comments (34)

Most Helpful
Nov 12, 2019 - 4:54pm

Who - I'm a development manager for a multi-family and mixed use development company. We build anything from student housing and garden product to high end town centers and high rises.

Whey - Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey. I'm sure there is better and/or cheaper stuff out there, but I'm a creature of habit. Happy to take suggestions though.

Why - I enjoy the combination of the managerial, creative, and analytical aspects of the industry. I like the idea of place-making and of leaving a lasting, hopefully positive, impact on a community. I like that the field is very entrepreneurial and that there is a path to me running my own business someday. Finally, it pays well.

When - I've been in development about 4.5 years. Prior to that, I was in commercial real estate for about 3.5. Prior to development, I worked in market research, office leasing, property management, and acquisitions. I would not recommend that route, but I did learn something at each step along the way.

How - A combination of networking and graduate school. I struggled to break into development through networking alone. Once I earned a MRED, I did not struggle.

Where - Southeast US. I didn't start my career down here, but I've been down here long enough that I can legally say "y'all"

Commercial Real Estate Developer
Nov 12, 2019 - 4:57pm

I didn't even know there were multiple types of bbq and/or sauce before moving south, but yes - it is solid. There's good bbq up north though too - at least where I was from.

I have certainly gained weight since I've lived in the south. That shit isn't a joke.

Commercial Real Estate Developer
Nov 12, 2019 - 8:56pm

Who: partner at development shop working in multifamily/office/retail
Where: West Coast
Why: Intellectually challenging nature of development; diversity in job responsibilities; interesting middle ground between finance, architecture, risk management, law; good current pay and long-term financial upside; job flexibility.
How: Office landlord rep brokerage at big 3 --> office developer as analyst --> multi developer where I met current partner --> branch off. All jobs sourced through old school networking.

Nov 13, 2019 - 7:07am

Who: PM/DM at a development shop working on mixed use developments

Where: West Coast

Why: Always sought to make impacts on communities, thought real estate had the most tangible effect; was always curious to see how it worked; I saw billionaires like Bruce Wayne owned real estate.

How: Worked in brokerage for about 3.5 years...started off in leasing then moved to capital markets. I knew I always wanted to be a developer so coming up on year 4 I started cold calling for jobs instead of cold calling for buildings. No MRED just a high pain tolerance. Someone saw the hunger in my eyes and gave me shot.

Helpful Hints: Be a nice person to everyone you come across, real estate is incredibly small.

Nov 13, 2019 - 12:44pm

For me, I created a list of the 100 biggest developers and IS broker teams I could find in my city. If I couldn't break into development, my goal was to slang $100M buildings in the meantime.

Regardless, I found out who the CEO was at each company, or I found the lead broker responsible for the biggest deals; I put their numbers on an excel sheet and called all the way through.

My goal was to always get an in-person meeting, that way I could say "If I am capable of getting in front of you, I hope you realize that I am capable of getting in front of anyone".

Alot of times people didn't return my third call...Alot of times I advanced in interviews but the fit was (which is OK). My final interview was with my boss who offered me a job on the spot and it was the best thing to happen to me. I am in a better position now than I would've been had I gotten earlier offers. Life can be funny like that sometimes.

Nov 13, 2019 - 9:03pm

These threads always depress me a bit, a big goal of mine was to get into real estate but I eventually trailed off. Still consider a MRED every once in a while..either that or start to flip houses and resedential stuff once I have more money saved up.

Nov 14, 2019 - 11:05am

I can see how these threads can be overwhelming, but I do want to remind people that no one sets out to "work for four years, then make hundreds of cold calls". Most people just figure it out as they go. The secret sauce is that there is no secret sauce.

I hope people who come across this information realize that those who have goals will do whatever is necessary to make something happen. A big indicator of whether you will be successful in a given industry is if you decide to keep going, when most others would quit. And if you do quit...that is OK too, as it is better to find something you are more passionate about.

Nov 14, 2019 - 7:57pm

You're right, thanks for that. Although I am in an Industry and have already surpased the point where most people either quit or do it for quite a while and it's not something I'm very passionate about either.

I still have a 30 year career in front of me, I guess I'll see what happens.

Nov 22, 2019 - 10:36am

Who: Development Manager working at a small shop in a large market. I work on everything but most of my time is spent sourcing and underwriting deals and working on planning approvals. We have traditionally done more commercial and industrial but are doing more infill mixed-use these days.

When: Current firm for 1.5 years, before that I worked in consulting (planning, feasibility studies etc.) after grad school. Prior to that I worked in renewables.

How: Networking, friends of friends, a lot of coffees even when I wasn't looking for a job. I have a planning background so came through that avenue rather than finance/investment sales. Having a masters in planning was extremely helpful in understanding the holistic nature of development and having classmates scattered across the municipalities in which I work.

Why: For better or worse, developers are responsible for city building now, and rather than being a planner trying to make developers do 'good development', it made sense to just be a good developer.

Where: Ontario

Nov 28, 2019 - 5:42pm

Why: I had spent college years and a couple thereafter in architecture, planning, and construction management, and wanted to utilize all of these skill sets towards an entrepreneurial pursuit with limitations only as great as one’s mind (and what the capital markets will finance). Income ceiling goes hand in hand with the previous statement, which was not the case with my earliest jobs.

When: After architecture school, studying urban planning, and after 3.5 years of managing both luxury residential and commercial construction projects. Finance was the language I couldn’t speak, and I felt like I had learned what I needed to in the other fields to go develop projects at a firm.

How: Relevant undergrad education plus real world experience plus RE finance focused T20 MBA. My architecture degree and thought process learned there was critical to my ability to conceptualize projects and find the vision. This also differentiates me from finance professionals.

Where: I went to b school at UT Austin because I paid attention to where the growth in our country was occurring. Top 5/10 cities were in TX. Best school in TX was/is UT. Easy decision considering I wanted the best chance of getting a job post school. DFW continues to lead the nation in growth and the tailwinds for development couldn’t be better.

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