Building a Career as A Real Estate Developer

Working in the real estate industry doesn’t just mean becoming an agent or investor. Property development is a lucrative career with a mean salary of $58,340 per year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals. Real estate development is rewarding yet demanding — it involves purchasing and developing prime residential or commercial properties before selling them for profit. To build a successful career in this sector, you’ll need a deep understanding of the market and a reliable network of experts to complete projects with maximum efficiency.

Education and experience

While a degree isn’t necessary to work in property development, majors like real estate, business, finance, and city and urban planning can provide you with foundational information. Technology related modules are also useful; you’ll need to know how to use databases, spreadsheets and geographic information systems as part of the job. It’s also important to get practical real estate experience via an internship or entry-level job with a small developer. You’ll gain experience conducting real estate transactions and dealing with contractors, as well as learn about construction and urban development. Alternatively, you can obtain a real estate license in roughly three to six months which will also give you solid foundational knowledge.

Start small

When starting out in property development, there’s no need to throw yourself into the deep end. Instead, set yourself a small and realistic first goal like buying a single, cheap property to develop and sell. Starting with a smaller project will give you experience and a taste of the challenges that often arise in property development (regarding zoning laws and construction delays, for example) without them becoming too overwhelming. When you move onto larger projects, you’ll be equipped with the experience and confidence to handle whatever comes your way.

Make connections

Networking is essential in order to find the perfect next job. Attend real estate conferences and join relevant organizations (like the National Association of Home Builders, for example) to make connections. It’s also important to forge a business relationship with a local real estate agent. An experienced professional familiar with your local property market can let you know about potential developments. This will also help you determine whether you want to focus on commercial or residential properties, a decision which affects the locations you buy in and extent of the development carried out.

Property development is ultimately a multidisciplinary team effort. In additional to a real estate agent, you'll need to know experts in a variety of fields to help deal with all aspects of the job — including, a reputable builder, designer, engineer, lawyer, and a zoning and licensing expert. This career path isn’t easy and you’ll no doubt encounter a myriad of challenges on the job. But with a determined attitude, strong knowledge base, and supportive team behind you, you’ll be able to carve out a rewarding and lucrative career in the real estate development sector.