I was told by a director of acquisition at a small family office (they primarily buy multifamily with ground floor retail) that it would be a good idea to work as a retail leasing broker (tenant rep) if one wanted to do acquisitions.

His logic was that if you developed a great relationship with retailers you could parlay that into a role or partnership with an acquisition group later on. The retail, and their high rents, being the financial anchor of so many mixed use buildings these days.

Is this foolhardy advice or is there a point to it? Would this be career suicide (broker type-casting) for someone who wants to work in RE PE or a small acquisitions shop?

Comments (5)


I think retail leasing is a great way to go. All you really need to get into acquisitions is money or knowledge that other don't necessarily have. Retail leasing would likely get you both of these things. I believe that Jeff Sutton started by leasing retail.

Financial Modeling


Yall make a big deal about the "image" of a position. Real Estate is all about experience. Get in to a real estate role and you can work your way into any position with hard work and networking. The fact that a guy that is the director of what you want to do is telling you it's a good idea, then you don't need a bunch of strangers on a website telling you it's a good idea.


^ what he said. A couple caveats, though, to play devil's advocate:

- depending on the firm/location/etc., it could be a couple years before you get your first paycheck
- "if you developed a great relationship with retailers" is a definite IF. Other people already have those relationships. It takes time.
- if you were interested in acquisitions, you wouldn't expect to be able to just do 2 yrs at XYZ firm and then easily go crunch numbers in acquisitions at a REIT like a lot of the kids from banking & other financial areas do. How would you compete with them at the junior level?
- regarding broker type-casting, you're right, they are not as brainy. you'll probably never see an MIT grad or Wharton grad in leasing

Having said all that, there's nothing wrong with leasing. Those leasing guys can make SERIOUS money off commissions, oftentimes more than their counterparts on the transaction/investment side. Ask the top earner in a respected leasing group in a major metro if he's interested in going to work for someone else in acquisitions. His answer would be, "fuck no." Like the aforementioned Jeff Sutton, they'd probably rather start their own damn company. i actually know someone who did this and now he has a portfolio of grocery-anchored centers, and he is certainly no rock star. In the meantime, the rest of us are fiddling around with expense reimbursements in Argus in a cubicle.


Give us some info.. Are you in school? Whats your work history? Do you have other options? It could serve as an entry point into either one of those positions if you could leverage your experience/relationships, but can you survive until you get your first deal?

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