What's better to break into CRE: CFA or REFM?

MIDW3ST's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

I am trying to break into the world of CRE next summer after graduation and was wondering which of these tools would help my resume better stand out and also help me to gain a better knowledge of the world of CRE and what I would be doing on a day to day basis. As of now I am looking towards the analyst side of the business but would not mind the broker side either (possibly down the road?).

The two options I'm looking at are taking the CFA level 1 (in the winter) or taking a real estate financial modeling course (the best I've heard are Kahr and REFM). If both would be beneficial, I would definitely consider doing that as well.

Any and all help is much appreciated. Thanks.

Comments (16)

Jun 8, 2017

CFA is an actual professional designation whereas REFM is a certification you can sign up for online in spare time and do. 99% of CRE employers who are looking at resumes probably have no clue what it is.

Jun 8, 2017

No one has any clue what REFM is, but after explaining it, the typical response has been "Oh Cool."

Jun 8, 2017

In order to stick out on a resume/cover letter, what would you recommend to do then? From their website, it claims REFM is used to train employees at CBRE, JP Morgan, etc. so that is why I brought it up. Is there any other certifications I could pursue before graduation?

Best Response
Jun 8, 2017

Argus Certification
Edit: Also, comparing whether to get a CFA to the REFM course would be like asking whether you should get your CPA or just learn accounting from Khan Academy

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Jun 9, 2017

I agree. Argus is pretty important to at least know basic inputs. Join organizations like ULI, NAIOP, and ICSC. As a recent grad that went to these conferences, I can tell you that the people that go to these events are 90% willing to talk to students and give advice. No other event can put you at a table with top level executives.

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Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Jun 8, 2017

CFA?...hmmm REFM?....hmmmmmm

I'd probably have to go with option c: network your ass off

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Jun 8, 2017

CFA is overkill imo. Learn how to model and spend the rest of your time networking, will get you further.

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Jun 8, 2017

Couldn't care less if a person had either. Go intern and get real world experience. Learning theory isn't valued in a wide majority of RE firms.

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Jun 9, 2017

Yep. CFA is irrelevant and REFM is more for your knowledge base, not your resume. Internships and networking are what matter.

Jun 9, 2017

here here.

Jun 10, 2017

i would say that if you come from a non-target school, having a CFA would help you stand out from the crowd. But yes, i agree with you for the most part.

Jun 9, 2017

Yeah - experience and networking win every day of the week imo - CFA takes too much time and either of the former will get you way further

Jun 9, 2017

Hustle is better.

Jun 9, 2017

CFA will consume a significant amount of your free time and take 2-4 years to finish. It's not that relevant in CRE but go for it if you want the knowledge and credential long term. If you're looking for something simply to "break in", especially short term, spend those hours networking and reading real estate books instead. Getting a CFA to land entry level CRE interviews doesn't make sense.

Jun 9, 2017

Agreed. Also getting the full CFA costs several grand

Jun 9, 2017
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