What Kind of Year Has It Been? Looking Back on 2019.

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What have you accomplished professionally in 2019? What wins have you celebrated? What mistakes have you had to overcome? What worries are on your horizon? What makes you excited for 2020?

I've always found commercial real estate to be an industry very willing to extend an olive branch to both friends and strangers alike. I want this thread to be a place for the Certified User crowd to look back on the year that was, hopefully with insights that readers can carry with them into the new year, and celebrate both monies made and manatees saved..

Comments (22)

Dec 11, 2019

Thanks, Monkey Bot. No one had a good year, apparently. Glad you're here to keep me company.

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  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Dec 11, 2019

Surprised this hasn't gotten more attention, this is your chance to flex, guys.

I work in REIB and I've been the analyst on a handful of M&A / Financing deals this year. I've finally reached the point where I can fill my resume with 3-4 solid deals and discuss my responsibilities on them without sounding like an idiot. To me this is a big milestone and also the green light to begin interviewing for REPE jobs, so I'm looking forward to that in 2020.

Also saved around 45k this year assuming a 50k bonus, which is always nice.

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Dec 11, 2019

I was involved in providing my clients with over a billion in closed financing, of which I underwrote about half. I worked on unsecured facilities, construction loans, and term loans on a variety of property types.

My big takeaways:
1. There is a lot of debt capital out there.
1. Banks, overall, have maintained loan structure. Most competition has been over pricing, which has been very beneficial to borrowers.
1. Information from brokers should be taken with a pinch of salt.
1. Transparency with your clients is how you build and maintain trust. That's how you keep them as clients.

EDIT: Didn't mean to reply to the user above me.

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Dec 12, 2019

But if you had to order those takeaways...

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Dec 12, 2019

First two questions mostly have the same answer. Starting a job at one of the largest Debt Funds and being deeply involved in the deal process has been a win on a personal and professional level. Mistakes were catching up on deal processes, proper procedures and just general learning curve. The worry on the horizon for bridge loans is that you can only value add a deal so many times. Worry for CMBS is that it might be a volatile year depending on who's winning in the polls. Most exciting thing for 2020 is potential growth and hopefully working on more deals with people I enjoy working with.

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Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
Dec 12, 2019

Realized how fortunate I am this year. Left the Brokerage side (GSE/Financing at CBRE/JLL/CW) to go to AM on the PE side. Things have been so slow here, but really blessed to have more time off, have been finding new hobbies and just enjoying life a little more. Everything was so fast paced in brokerage. Clients needed answers right away, and I never slowed down. Work in the DC area, so took lunch yesterday to go to a museum... Pretty incredible to see world renowned art in the middle of a work day. All in all, life is pretty incredible. Hope everyone is seeing the same.
That said, takeaways from RE specifically are...

  • Still a ton of dry powder in the market. When agencies got recapitalized, knew things were going to get heated up eventually. Glad to see that happening now. 2020 should be a great year for financing.
  • Worried that a lot of BOV's won't prove out in the market in some of the recently hot areas (Phoenix, Seattle, San Antonio, Nashville). Have seen first hand owners trying to refi at values they couldn't sell at.
  • Curious to see where available, non-institutional equity will come from. Have heard rumblings from a few IB equity connecting guys I know that Middle East (Israel specifically) is hot for some reason...
  • Excited to learn AM. Want to keep expanding my tool belt with new skills and love the idea of AM. At the end of the day, seems like operating a bunch of small businesses. Will be great to take a step back from churning out deals and slow down. Learn the bricks behind everything.
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Dec 16, 2019

What product type are you seeing overvalued in San Antonio?

Dec 12, 2019

This year has been a big one for me. In January I got a promotion, in July I took the jump from a LIHTC investor and accepted a position at a family office that focuses on a niche asset class. I'm excited by the sheer size of our acquisitions pipeline and looking at a variety of different transaction structures as a true owner rather than hawking LIHTCs to banks. Im a bit worried about hiccups in the federal government that could slow down transactions at HUD and by the sheer amount of new capital that keeps flowing into our asset class.

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Dec 14, 2019

Were you at a LIHTC syndicator? Can you talk about your experience there? Also can you comment on how pay was (assuming a syndicator)? I have always been curious about the tax credit industry and if it makes sense to make a jump to it.

Dec 16, 2019

I had a great experience in syndication and had a very steep learning curve. I believe it is the best place to learn the LIHTC business just because of the sheer volume of deals and programmatic knowledge you will pick up. Somebody in lending won't get the granular technical/structuring experience and somebody working for a developer will close one deal a year if they're lucky while you could easily work on 12 at a syndicator.

I worked at a fairly small shop where our acquisitions team consisted of 3 people and we all tag teamed each deal so I got to wear a lot of hats. Our team ran deals from origination through closing and staying involved through 8609. At a bigger shop this process would be much more segmented. The deal could be handed off many times (Originate/ UW/Closing/Fund Placement/ pre stabilization am/ stabilized am). We also had a development consultant on staff who would work on site selection and funding applications with non-profits and developers who were new to the program. I learned a lot working on some of those engagements.

Pay is ok but not great at the entry level. I started at 60k plus 20% and came with a couple years of brokerage experience in a MCOL city. I think the pay at big shops in more expensive cities it about the same which isn't great. I know originators at national firms can kill it and earn well over $500k a year. Based on conversations with recruiters mid level acq/am/investor relations professionals will be around 125k base, not sure around bonus potential. Not bad for late 20s working 40 hours a week. The issue is most shops only promote from within so if you hit a log jam due at your firm you will likely have to lateral to a shop and slog it out hoping something opens up.

In regards to exit opps a lot of folks land on the principal side (mostly 4% developers). Some go into lending at the project level and some go work in community development at large banks where they are allocating dollars to syndicators or making direct investments. When I talked to people in those roles at banks who invested with us they seemed to do very well

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Dec 13, 2019

awesome year, started the year with no real estate experience and going to be ending the year with the experience of having done a property management and a brokerage internship. how was your year CRE?

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Dec 16, 2019

2019's been good, took a role as a CM doing multifamily reno's for a big name player. Hours are nice, people are nice, job's not exactly the most interesting and not what I want to do long run.

Putting together MSRED applications at the moment, bracing for transition. Really don't know what i'm gonna do if I don't get into the programs I want. Possibly move down south and try to get a job with a boutique developer in the south to make the full transition.

I've been in the construction industry for about three and a half years now, and i'm scared that all of the jumping around has made me a strong generalist but has made me relatively weak in a concentrated form. If I ever want to go back to being a PM in the GC world, my friends and peers are all ahead of me. I'm only applying to higher-end MSRED programs and don't really know what i'll do if I get rejected to all of them. Might just head down south and hope for the best as well. Hoping I look back on this post in a couple months positively.

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Dec 16, 2019

You got this. Your career will be fine. You have a unique experience that is not common among a lot of construction guys nor finance guys. You're in a good spot.

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

Dec 17, 2019

Hoping that's the case. I know i'll have general stability, but i'm just afraid that i'm stagnating hard. I did a 70% total pay bump in 2 years, and it's just hard to tamper expectations at this point.

Dec 17, 2019

2019 was an interesting year. We had a few huge exits and we also had a few projects struggle. In general, we are net sellers right now and I expect that trend will continue into 2020 and beyond. Pricing is incredibly high and now seems like a great time to lock in some solid gains.

We acquired a new real estate operating company which will give my firm additional multifamily coverage in some geographies where we were extremely under-allocated. We also made our first industrial investment. The group we invested with has a sterling reputation and track record. Historically our firm has not invested in industrial and while we are late to the party, I am still convinced it is a property type we need to have exposure to. We continued to add to our workforce housing portfolio, it will be interesting to see how large that portfolio becomes over time. We are adding 4-6 properties per year. We seriously pumped the brakes on all office development investments. We saw some projects struggle and we already have commitments to several more projects. We want to see how those perform before jumping back in.

I hired an associate to work under me for the first time and I've been very pleased with how quickly they got up to speed. It has significantly increased my bandwidth and they have put out some nice investment memos. Next year I'd like to transition some of my relationships over to them.

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Jan 6, 2020

Not in RE but much respect to that last statement. Lot of IB/PE seniors can takeaway that kind of mentality to their juniors

Dec 17, 2019

I'm waiting for a final settlement statement to come through so I can offload a deal today, so it's as good of a time as any for me to say mine. This year was the tale of two deals, and, as such, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

One project was everything you could ever ask for. It was the reason I wanted to get hired at my company - a town center project that has been my baby since I started. It gave me a trophy case full of industry awards and a healthy bank account after disposition. I got to tour students and organizations through the project multiple times, it set record sale numbers for the area, and when family and friends ask what I do for a living, I show them pictures of this project. It gave me immense pride to be a part of a team - a small part at first and then ultimately a key player - that excelled architecturally, transformed the community, and made great money all at the same time. I'll always have that one.

The other couldn't be more different. It was a mistake for the company to go after this deal. It was a mistake for them to overpay. It was a mistake for them to originally assign it to someone who was inexperienced and disengaged. I inherited management of the deal with no hope of success. I built a team, finished construction, stabilized the asset, and raised rents dramatically in the process, but all of my efforts amounted to very little. When it sells today, it will be for a fairly dramatic loss. There will be no closing dinner. No celebratory beers at 2pm. I busted my ass for two years on a project I knew was destined to fail, of no fault of my own, if only to have it fail less than it otherwise would have - preserving as much capital as possible. No equitychecks will be incoming from this one. No bonuses to look forward to.

The highs in this industry are exceedingly high. The compensation, recognition, and the feeling of accomplishment can be extraordinary. The lows will get you though. Still, there are very few other things I could imagine myself doing.

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Jan 2, 2020

Thank you to everyone who posted here. Let's get after it in 2020.

Jan 2, 2020

2019 Accomplishments?
- Moved from CRE lending to development at one of the top outfits in the city

Wins / Mistakes?
- Just getting a handle on the business. Don't even know if I've won yet as it seems like an eternal learning curve, but onwards and upwards I suppose. Been cool to see how the company sets up its pipeline for future development, with us already underway in conceptualizing and running numbers on projects that wouldn't be complete until mid/late-'20s.

- Is this a career path I like/enjoy/see myself in? Is my future in some other part of real estate, or something entirely different?

- might look into writing for the CAIA.
- Will hopefully lead an acquisition or two sometime this year
- shoot under 90 (?)

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Jan 2, 2020
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