Realistically how much experience do you need before making the jump to development or PERE?

press107's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 700

How much experience should you have before making the jump to either PERE or development? Interested in your thoughts on this. I have interacted with a couple smaller developers before where the typical progression would be something like architect/GC/Project manager -5- 7 years and then go work in house with a developer.

I have only met one big developer (think trammell, hines, tishman) and the person had an MBA. I know some bigger developers hire people without a ton of experience but are you really learning the development process? Or are you just cranking out models all day everyday?

PERE - haven't met anyone in this field but it seems like most people have a couple years of analyst, or underwriting under their belt before making the jump?

Comments (11)

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Aug 7, 2018

There isn't a catch-all answer to this, but development is one of those things that I view of more as an apprenticeship. All CRE is to some extent, but especially with development, I think you need someone teaching you the different job functions you mentioned and that you have to at least be tangentially knowledgeable on all aspects of the deal before you 'run the show'. So even if your background was in GC/PM, you need to understand the underwriting, capital stack, etc. On the flip side, if you are really plugged in on the debt/equity/fundraising side, you at least need to be able to speak intelligibly on construction, entitlement, etc.

REPE, at least in an acquisitions role, typically they want you to have the analyst background because they don't have teams of people checking the work of junior people, so if you need to prepare/evaluate a deal for IC you need to be airtight on the financial analysis/have 0 mistakes. I think with development the underwriting in-house is a little more 'abstract' since it's mostly about being able to manage the costs/budget and then the rents and pricing metrics are what they are when you stabilize/exit.

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Aug 7, 2018



Thanks for the well thought out response. Question:

What is the path of least resistance to development?

I understand there is usually one of two ways by way of GC, by way of finance. How do you decide which will get you to where you want to go quicker or which is better suited for you? Most of the GC/PM openings I see at reputable companies are requiring 5+years of experience. With that requirement it seems as if being able to underwrite, and model well would allow you to get your foot in the door quicker.

Aug 8, 2018

Most PM roles require experience because that's normally a mid level position, from my understanding. Usually the route is Project Engineer - Assistant PM - PM. Project Engineer can be substituted for Assistnt Scheduler/ Cost Coordinator/ Project Coordinator. Names of roles may differ firm to firm.
My knowledge is just from researching companies and interviewing with companies, haven't worked in that field myself. @MonkeyWrench gave me solid advice regarding this in one of my previous posts.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

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Aug 8, 2018

Also interested in this. I'm 3 yrs since graduating architecture, preparing for an MRED degree and by the time I graduate I'll have 5 yrs architecture experience / 3yrs arch. 2 yrs dev. exp. and a development degree, and I hope that will do for a PM or Development Manager position at a good developer shop

Aug 8, 2018

I don't think you technically need any experience to get onto a development team. If you can sell your personal value proposition now, go for it. I only had office leasing brokerage experience and leveraged it into working for an office group, under the premise I could help with design efforts by knowing what tenants wanted, and with underwriting in terms of basic options/stacking/etc. It took 6 months to pan out and was just as much a product of luck as persistence, but it worked. There's no reason to say "I need xx days of experience working for this GC before I start cold calling developers for coffee".

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Aug 8, 2018

True. My fear from reaching out to developers is that they roll their eyes when they think of having to train me in finance while paying me. Hence me wanting a grad degree. I'm guessing experience accrued till then will help pad me so that I don't have to start at the bottom of the ladder.

Aug 8, 2018
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