REIT/REPE analyst career switch

BubbaBanker's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,965

I've been considering a career switch into REIT/REPEs acquisitions, and from what I've seen on this forum and site so far there's a ton of really good advice here regarding learning modeling, RE fundamentals, and networking with RE professionals. I've been meaning to go out and make the transition, but on paper there's a few complications. Namely:

1) Non-target UG background (large state school with decent alumni network in the Washington metro area)
2) No professional RE background (internships, etc.)
3) Non-target current profession (Big 4 advisory/audit)
4) No prior ARGUS experience

However, I've been trying my best to overcome this through:

1) Learning modeling (BIWS, other online courses, as well as models worked on with a current mentor of sorts)
2) Trying to generate deal ideas/locations for an alum working in REPE acquisitions (free labor but it's for a side project he's working on)
3) Getting my feet wet (investing in residential RE with my dad, very small time but it's something)
4) Networking with any alums I can find working throughout the greater RE industry (asset mgmt, acquisitions, property mgmt, etc.)

Given no real professional RE experience, and to date modeling knowledge learned not on the job, I understand that I'm not a potential target employee for virtually any analyst positions. That being said, I'm still actively pursuing this switch. I respect my current employer, but it's not something I see myself doing in the long term. However, I want to be realistic with my short term goals. For those that either made the switch or started out as analysts, what did you find useful that helped you become more qualified targets? Should I refocus my networking/career goals for something that would make me a better candidate for these kinds of positions down the line? Any help would be greatly appreciated, as would a reality check if my goals sound unrealistic at this point.

Comments (7)

Best Response
Feb 6, 2017

It's not impossible, but not easy. How old are you? One way to do it would be to go back to school for a master's degree in real estate. That way you can really focus on the hard skills you're lacking, get an internship, and play the "I'm a student, could you give me your time/suggestions" networking card.

If you don't want to do that, you're just going to have to network voraciously. Hone your story--the "why do you want to switch careers into real estate" question is going to come up every time--until you have it down backwards and forwards. Go to ULI and NAIOP events. Figure out what asset classes really interest you and why. Realize that you might have to make a few stops along the way in order to get that REPE acquisitions job (investment sales, debt/equity placement, etc).

Be prepared to have a really low hit rate in your interviewing. A young but seasoned REPE guy who started his own shop a few years back gave me some good advice: you're going to get it if you really want it, but you're going to have 15-20 informational interviews that lead to one formal interview, where guys who have been doing this a few years will only need to do 3-5. You have to be willing to soldier on through that kind of rejection.

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Feb 6, 2017

BD, thanks for the great advice. To answer your question, I'm only 23, just 6 months into my current position, out of UG, so I think I'm a little too young to get a master's, plus I don't really have the means to pay for it right now.

In terms of the switch, I was considering an internal transfer towards the more transaction services side of advisory in the Big 4 would be beneficial, or whether an outright exit into something that you mentioned would be a better idea. The latter would naturally be more RE focused in nature, as I'm not certain whether the transaction services positions are DD focused, granular enough to be considered relevant RE focused, or even in the market I'm currently working in (DC metro area).

Feb 6, 2017

If you're working at a Big 4, is there a way to get transferred into a real-estate advisory position, whatever that individual position may be? That would be my first suggestion, as it will allow you direct access to RE folks outside of your firm who could help you find a job. You could work for a year in that capacity, and then have a legit story that connects your current/past work to what you want to do in CRE in the future.

Feb 6, 2017

BD, I think it's possible, I know it's internal transfer aren't unheard of. I'd have to do some digging to see whether there is something available in my market, but this is a pretty big one for my firm so I'm sure there might be something available. In the event that I can't find that, what would you suggest as a goal to bridge the gap that would be more transaction/underwriting oriented?

Feb 6, 2017

If you can't transfer into something RE-related, I would recommend looking for financial analyst positions at the top CRE brokerage firms (CBRE, Eastdil, HFF, Newmark, JLL, C&W, etc.) Investment sales would be ideal, but you could also shoot for a financial consulting position (such as CBRE Financial Consulting). Anything that will allow you to learn how to financially analyze commercial real estate professionally. A lot of people do that for a couple of years and then get a job in REPE acquisitions.

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Feb 6, 2017

Thanks, I'll look into those. In the meantime, other than refining my modeling skills and networking, is there anything else that you recommend to focus on?

Feb 6, 2017