A great advantage to real estate is the variety of the career opportunities available and that it is a sustainable long-term career path. It will always be there. Real estate is dynamic, the demand for different types of properties and land use may change, but its underlying importance remain. Furthermore, the career paths available are perfectly suited to students from a wide range of academic backgrounds. While quantitative skills are important, communication skills and critical thinking are highly valued.
Real estate is an applied interdisciplinary field that incorporates a wide variety of disciplines, including accounting, architecture, construction, economics, engineering, finance, law, management and urban planning and also has strong links with fields such as communications, geography and sociology.
Studying real estate provides you with an immersive, interdisciplinary experience that helps you understand the complexity not only of real estate, but of the broader economy and how central the built environment is to it. Do you want to understand how the real estate market operates, from development and financing through sale and leasing to investment and management? Do you want to expand your knowledge of how the economy and financial markets influence real estate and how they are also affected by it? Do you wonder how public policy at a federal, state and local level can impact real estate and also how public policy can be shaped by real estate? Are you interested in how issues such as climate change and technology are affecting real estate and how the industry is responding? If you want to pursue a dynamic career, where every deal or project may be different; where a wide variety of skill sets are appreciated; where you can create a lasting impact, then real estate may be a career for you.
Career & Industry Connections
Many people don't fully appreciate the range of career options and opportunities available in real estate. All aspects of the real estate process require highly skilled professionals, from the initial financing and development of a project, through construction and the leasing and/or sale of the property to the ongoing asset management. Different property types also require specific skills and knowledge. For example, developing a hotel requires a different approach to a large distribution warehouse.
The organization that someone works for also changes the nature of their day-to-day work. Working for a developer or investor differs from working in an advisory capacity, while there are also numerous career opportunities in the public sector. Corporate real estate also requires quite specific skill sets, linking real estate decision making to the strategic objectives of a company for whom the real estate is a fundamental operational component of the business. The interdisciplinary nature of real estate is also becoming more and more appreciated in fields such as economic development, data analytics, environmental change & sustainability and social justice.
Real estate isn't going anywhere. It is a dynamic business and things do change, for example the changes to retail over recent years. However, its interdisciplinary nature and the transferable skills that real estate professionals obtain make it a highly adaptable career.
Real estate brokers manage various business deals such as investments, real estate, or insurance withing the finance and banking industries. Brokers play a key role in ensuring that real estate markets operate effectively. Their role, and the skill sets required, can differ significantly depending on the real estate sector they are operating in and whether they are focused on sales or on leasing.
Real estate is one of the largest asset classes in the world, only behind stocks and bonds in size. It is a key component in the portfolios of major investors such as Pension Funds and Insurance Companies and, at a global level, Sovereign Wealth Funds. The last few decades have also seen considerable growth in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and dedicated real estate funds, who can pursue a wide variety of investment strategies. In addition to investment in real estate itself, there are considerable opportunities in the capital markets through investment in real estate related vehicles such as REITs and Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS').
Development is arguably the most entrepreneurial segment in real estate. Developers need a strong vision of what purpose the completed project is going to serve and who is going to occupy it. They also have to be effective at working with a wide array of different professionals; from architects and construction managers to banks, leasing agents and
occupiers, as well as negotiating the sale of the completed project. While some developers may specialize in a specific sector, e.g. homebuilders, others operate across a range of property types. In addition to the core residential and commercial sectors, fields such as infrastructure have increased in importance in recent years.
Appraisal is central to real estate. Whether you are an investor, developer or a local government, the value of real estate is key. It is also one of the real estate career paths most protected during market downturns, investors and organizations such as banks, need to know what is happening to real estate values. Appraisers have to master both an in-depth knowledge of market level dynamics with specific knowledge of individual property sectors and how all of this may affect the value of a particular building in a specific location.
Real estate advisory firms, such as the brokerage firms, play an important role in real estate. They provide advice about specific markets or sectors and about innovations in the market. As well as the real estate specific firms, there are also great career opportunities in organizations such as accounting firms, banks and law firms, as well as professional service firms in fields such as research and urban planning.
For most investors buying a property is a major investment. It is a large asset, whether you are considering a family buying a house or a REIT buying an office building. This means that financing is vital in real estate. For many banks real estate loans, both residential mortgages and commercial & development debt, is the single largest component of their loan book. Real estate lenders can't just rely on their financial expertise. They need, as much as anyone, to able to understand the underlying dynamics of real estate markets. We saw during the financial crisis in 2008 what can happen when that doesn't occur. In addition to debt, the growth in unlisted real estate funds and REITs has increased the importance of equity financing. There are many attractive career opportunities in capital raising and investor relations.
Property & Asset Management
All real estate needs to be managed and in many cases managing a property is like running a small business, think of large shopping malls. Wide ranging career opportunities exist in property management in both professional service advisory firms and with investors. Real estate differs from the majority of other asset classes in that investors can directly add value through their own active management. Asset managers therefore play a key role in the overall investment team.
Corporate Real Estate
For corporations, and other organizations, the role of real estate is slightly different, in that it is central to the operation of their underlying business. The effec
real estate operations, whether the properties are owned or leased, is therefore hugely important. In many cases real estate is central to a company's business and virtually indistinguishable from their corporate strategy, for example retailers and hotels. Whether real estate decisions are managed in-house or out-sourced, corporate real estate decision making is key in corporate management.
Real estate, in all of its various forms, is hugely important in a public sector setting. Many public sector organizations are focused on real estate, for example, Housing Authorities and the Assessment Offices responsible for estimating property values for tax purposes. However, real estate is also central to the operation and function of Economic Development offices at a local level, through numerous state level bodies to Federal organizations such as the Department of Housing & Urban Development and the Federal Reserve.