There are few industries as risky and rewarding as real estate development. The market is incredibly consistent, and even though we may never see property values again reach the heights enjoyed in the mid-2000’s, strong recovery is occurring all across the country. In the end, real estate remains a dependable investment. But development also involves all of the riskier aspects of real estate as well. Developers target property to purchase and handle everything from the contract negotiation to the building design, and through the closing and resale. It involves a wide range of skill sets, and isn’t for the faint of heart. But that also means hard-fought success in this field brings significant financial rewards. So if you’re undaunted and want to give it a try here are five tips for finding a job in real estate development.
Although many successful entrepreneurs have gone straight from high school into building a business, if you’re looking to get on board with a company already in existence you’ve got to focus on your education. Most companies will look for someone who has a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and in many cases a graduate degree in business, finance or real estate. You can go the route of picking up a real estate license, but there is much more to development than just sales. In the end, the more related education you can earn from reputable programs, the easier you’ll find your job search to be.
Outside of education, development firms are also looking for experience. There’s a lot at stake both in time and money with each project, and even established companies cannot afford to take many losses because of an inexperienced employee. If you’re good with your hands, try to work with a contractor and get involved in construction. If you’re a big vision person, work in architecture or design. If sales is your thing, spend a few years selling properties. The chances of getting a good job with a real estate development firm without some amount of experience are slim.
It’s also a good idea to learn all you can about the legal side of real estate. You may be called upon to negotiate a property purchase, and though you won’t be expected to have a law degree you cannot be lost when reading a contract. The same goes for the closing process. You will have a real estate attorney on hand, but you should understand what is involved with closings inside and out, so you cannot be surprised or miss an important detail.
Once you’re ready to get yourself out there, make sure you are looking in the right places. Real estate development happens all over the world, but there are certain parts of the country with a more vibrant development market than others. You should be willing to relocate, and visit some of the places where property values are consistent and construction projects are happening. Research the major development firms and explore their markets. No matter how qualified you might be, there are some regions where these jobs simply do not exist in significant numbers.
Finally, open up your contact list and look for friends and associates who might be willing to help you along. On one hand you’ll need mentors, people who literally have “been there and done that” and can walk you through everything you should expect in this industry. You’ll need to wow a hiring manager, and having the chance to walk through an interview situation with a friendly party will be invaluable. On the other hand it always helps to have a great recommendation. This is especially useful if this person has worked in the industry, either for a title agency, a real estate company, a construction firm or in development. You never know when a word in the right ear could land you the job you desire.