1. Industry Research
The first step to making yourself a well-rounded candidate for an analyst or associate position within an investment firm is to sharpen your understanding of the industry as a whole. Speak with colleagues and friends and ask if they have any materials that they used to help with the general understanding of development, finance, market analysis, etc. Here are a couple of good sources to get started:
- Stan Ross – The Inside Track to Careers in Real Estate
- William Poorvu – The Real Estate Game
- Nathan & Courtland Collier – Construction Funding
- Charles Bagli – Other People’s Money
- Urban Lands Institute’s Real Estate Development Process: Part I
Other People’s Money is more historical, but outlines the process of putting together a deal and Tishman Speyer’s handling of their acquisition of Stuytown in the 2000’s. Construction Funding does a good job of outlining the development process and goes a little more in depth than The Real Estate Game. In regard to the ULI Development Process, the program covers Real Estate Finance, Site Selection and Due Diligence, Deal Structure and Risk Management and Asset Management to name a few of the areas. This can be a great resource to identify areas of weakness and brush up on some of these areas prior to going into any interviews.
2. Excel Financial Modeling & DCF Models
If this is a weakness, it is important to focus on enhancing your financial modeling skillset. Thankfully, there are many resources out there and I spent some time choosing between:
Breaking Into Wall Street has good Real Estate and REIT modeling programs that walk you through the construction of a basic residential model, the development and sale of an office building, a hotel acquisition and renovation, the operating model of a REIT and how to value a REIT portfolio. The program allows you to go at your own pace and helps you understand how to model complex transactions in Excel. Some of it can be a little high level, and more than you will need to know when you are starting out as an analyst, but for someone with real estate experience already it would be a great speed. REFM and Train The Street also have free materials to help fully understand the modeling and analysis process such as; “Demystifying Excel Pro Formas”, “Understanding Cap Rates”, and “Guide to the Real Estate Business”.
3. Argus Modeling
While some analysts at larger firms do not have much or any experience in Argus, it can be an opportunity to enhance your resume and also add another weapon into your modeling arsenal. Paired with Kahr’s Real Estate Services Guide to Argus Valuation and taking time to dedicate to learning Argus, you may find it beneficial to teach yourself how to use the basics of the program.
It starts with basic instructions such as how to create a new property/file and works you through how to build a basic office model (the general model) and goes on to explain how to build models for a residential building, a hotel and company’s portfolio. Though it certainly will not make you an expert in Argus after going through the guide, in terms of working through case studies it most certainly teaches you how to navigate the program and construct a report in Argus.
4. Real Estate Publications
One of the most difficult aspects of searching is identifying target companies within the different markets where you are looking to acquire employment. Outside of the logical major players (Blackstone, Tishman Speyer, Carlyle, Related, Brookfield, etc), You may also want to identify any regional or local developers, REITs, or investment firms that could be a good fit. The best way to do this is by reading as many publications as you can, such as:
- Globe Street
- The Wall Street Journal Real Estate
- The New York Times Real Estate
- The Commercial Observer
- The New York Observer Real Estate
- The Real Deal
A lot of the time these feature the same players in each market, but it’s possible to come across a new company or firm to add to your list of potential companies. This can be beneficial for a variety of reasons:
- You’re able to stay up to date on what was going on in different markets
- It helps with conversations with new contacts or other individuals within the industry
- It helps create a daily routine of continuing to stay disciplined and search for opportunities.
There are a variety of sources out there and you never know where your next opportunity may come from, so staying on top of all relevant news and identifying new firms will allow you to continue to grow your network, meet new individuals and learn some things you may not have known.
Out of this list, by far the most important thing in regard to your job search is networking. A great goal in the job search process is to attempt to sit down with someone, new or an existing relationship, every two weeks during your search. The real estate industry is quite small, especially once you get into the specific metropolitan markets in the Northeast, and it can greatly benefit you to have as many advocates backing you as possible. Networking helps you to develop new relationships within different markets. Begin by researching many of the development firms you are interested in and find a way to connect with someone within the company for either coffee or lunch. All of these things can lead to you being approached for new opportunities and get your name out there.
Real Estate may be an evolving field, but business, in general, will always be based on relationships and people like doing business with people that they like. As your network expands, not only can you grow as an individual and a prospective candidate, but you never know when the VP of the firm you’re applying to may know of someone you met with for coffee. Their assessment of you can lead to you getting the position. Yes, without the necessary hard skills and general knowledge needed to handle the responsibilities and job functions, networking can only get you so far. But when combined with hard work and diligent effort to expand your knowledge, it could make all the difference in unearthing the next step in your career.
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