Real estate professionals must be able to research, analyze, negotiate, plan and market. They often work long days. Before discussing skills and career paths, first think about this question: 'What am I good at?' An honest self-assessment is a good place to begin before thinking about any career. Imagine a straight line axis with two extreme personality attributes at opposite ends: 'analytical' versus 'people-oriented.' Few of us are both highly analytical and highly people-oriented. Instead, we fall somewhere in between. Analytical types are comfortable with research and analysis, enjoy learning new technical skills, and problem modeling and solving. People-oriented types are extroverts by nature and prefer working with people rather than sitting behind a desk.
Certain real estate specializations tend to require more of the analytical attribute, while others require more of the people-oriented attribute. For example, appraisers, mortgage lenders, corporate real estate managers and property managers must be strong on the analytical side, with strong writing skills. Brokers and leasing agents require strong interpersonal, negotiation and verbal skills. Developers, commercial mortgage brokers, and real estate consultants need a heavy dose of both. Which are you?
Real estate people can never know too much. They must constantly strive to stay abreast of business trends, and think about issues - tax laws, new highway routes, technology or existing and proposed zoning regulations - affecting their clients, business and investments. Above all, successful real estate professionals are entrepreneurial by nature and process-oriented. They generally look for opportunities and ways to improve business. Real estate entrepreneurs are successful in most business fields and often diversify into other (non-real estate) businesses.
Beyond a general knowledge of business, economics and a global market perspective, employers expect neophyte real estate professionals to be computer literate, using spreadsheets, database analysis, word processing, graphical analysis and geographic information systems. They also expect new employees to communicate well and to make oral presentations. Negotiation skills are also an important aspect of the real estate industry, and students should practice these while in school.
Some specific career paths are discussed below:
- Appraisal and Consulting
- Brokerage and Leasing
- Corporate Real Estate
- Mortgage and Construction Lending
- Property Management
- Institutional Real Estate Investment
The above specializations generally require a business background. However, there are many other professions related to the real estate industry such as construction, environmental consulting, real estate tax and regulatory counseling, design review, economic and market feasibility analysis, planning, education and research. Overall, real estate provides many promising career paths.