Commercial Real Estate: Where You Can Go
We’ve been discussing residential real estate (single-family homes, condos, and the like)—but what about when a business needs to buy or sell a building? Or rent one?
Commercial real estate does for companies and businesses what residential real estate does for individual buyers and sellers, and it encompasses a pretty wide spectrum of needs and responsibilities. There are agents and brokers, support staff, investors, and more.
One area of commercial real estate hiring that we’ll cover more in-depth below is research and analysis. Investors, retail outlets, and other businesses use commercial real estate research assistants and analysts to determine where the next big opportunity for expansion lies, whether that means buying homes for a buy-and-hold landlord setup in a brand-new area, or finding the next most ideal place to launch a storefront for a certain business.
Industrial and Office Brokerage Career Opportunities
An industrial or office brokerage is a brokerage that works with commercial real estate, and specifically with warehouse or office space. An industrial or office brokerage (and its employees) will usually specialize in one industry, or a handful of industries, in order to provide their clients with the properties that best fit their needs.
For example, depending on what’s being produced inside the warehouse, one company might need access to laborers with certain accreditations or experience levels, which could mean they have fewer warehouses to choose among; an industrial real estate broker can help them understand where they need to find a warehouse. A different company might require access to certain raw materials, or need a building that adheres to certain codes.
Industrial real estate professionals learn the ins and outs of the various verticals they serve so that they can help their clients find space that works quickly and efficiently. This is a job you’re qualified to tackle if you are already involved in commercial real estate (or if you’re working toward becoming licensed as a commercial real estate agent).
Farm and Land Brokerage Career Opportunities
What else gets bought and sold besides homes and office spaces? Farms!
To price and sell a farm, agents and brokers need to understand the farm’s production value, the value of the land the farm sits on, market centers and transportation possibilities—it’s far from simple. Agents and brokers who want to pursue this career path will typically seek out additional certifications or continuing education; NAR offers a RealtorsⓇ Land Institute designation for farm-savvy real estate professionals.
Real Estate Appraising Career Opportunities
Appraisers and assessors (who work for the state or county tax collection departments and assess home values for taxes) are two careers that involve a deep understanding of the value of real estate, whether that’s land, a house, or an office building.
Mortgage lenders require buyers to get a property appraised before they will finalize the loan, in order to make sure they aren’t lending out more money than the property is worth. So any real estate transaction involving a mortgage loan will usually involve an appraisal.
Homeowners might also get their house appraised out of curiosity, or in order to refinance, or secure a home equity loan or line of credit.
Appraisers are licensed by the state where they operate. Some appraisers specialize in certain property types (for example, high-end homes, or office space). Those appraisers might require additional training in order to be able to pinpoint a property value.
Property Management Career Opportunities
Not every landlord is the hands-on type. For those who prefer to outsource the work of finding and managing tenants, handling emergency house problems, and other tasks of that ilk, a property manager is the person they hire.
Property managers work with both commercial and residential properties and help the property owners, well, manage the situation! They are typically paid a flat monthly rate for their services, and usually all you need to get started in property management is a high-school diploma.
Leasing agents are to renters what real estate agents are to buyers and sellers; they help renters find homes or apartments for rent. This career is much more common in some areas than others. In many cities, if you want to rent a house, you have no choice but to work with a leasing agent!
To pursue a career as a leasing agent, you’ll need a high-school diploma and a certification as a National Apartment Leasing Professional.
Land Development Career Opportunities
Before you can sell a structure on top of land, someone has to purchase that land, get it zoned by whatever county or city entities exist, and build on it.
Land wholesalers purchase large tracts of land, then subdivide that land into smaller lots, selling each of those lots individually (or in development groups) to builders who want to put homes on that land.
Real estate developers purchase land (typically from wholesalers), then build homes on them to sell to individual buyers (or apartment buildings to rent—developers build what needs building!). There’s no specific requirement to become a real estate developer, but you’ll need to have a comprehensive understanding of real estate costs in your area (including materials and the cost of labor), zoning, financing, marketing—the list goes on and on.
There are no specific requirements for working in land development, though some successful entrepreneurs secure a business degree or MBA to help them navigate all the logistics.
Urban Planning Career Opportunities
Perhaps you’ve heard of an urban planner, or a regional planner. These are people who help city officials, the general public, community groups, and other interested parties plan and shape the developmental future of the neighborhood or area.
This can involve evaluating plans and assessing how feasible a project is (or is not), providing feedback on zoning or environmental codes, conducting field investigations, and more. When you have a question about how a planned project might affect an area, an urban planner can help you answer it.
To become an urban planner, you’ll most likely need to secure a gradiate degree in urban planning.
Real Estate Advice-Giving Career Opportunities
Every industry needs its lawyers! In some states, a real estate lawyer will execute many of the duties that a title company usually handles—the title review, for example, and managing the documents in the sale.
Of course, there are as many areas of specialized real estate law as there are reasons to go to court over real estate! Some lawyers specialize in rental law, some in probate law, others in transaction management, others in post-transaction lawsuits.
Another area of real estate counseling is financial counseling—helping clients manage their real estate portfolios and specializing in those kinds of assets.
To become a real estate lawyer, you’ll need a law degree and ideally have taken specialized classes during law school. To become a financial counselor, a basic requirement might include a finance degree; NAR also offers a designation in “Counselor of Real Estate” for real estate professionals with at least 10 years of experience.
Real Estate Research Career Opportunities
Real estate research involves, essentially, number-crunching to help investors (typically) decide where to go and what to buy next.
A real estate researcher might work for a buy-and-hold investor, for example, and be tasked with analyzing and evaluating rent prices, home purchase prices, rent market demand, and more for several different markets, so that the investor can make an informed decision about which market to expand to next. Chain businesses, from retail outlets to restaurants, use similar analytics to decide where to open the next store.
At the entry level of real estate research jobs, you’ll see titles such as “research associate.” These jobs typically involve tasks such as preparing and submitting loan and grant applications, mapping research and data collection, maintaining files, and so on.
A research analyst will monitor wider economic trends and local real estate trends, providing analysis to executives and answering questions from business leadership as best they can about where the market is likely to go next. Senior research analysts may also provide technical guidance or training to other staff members, or revamp existing processes to make them more efficient.
And a real estate research director oversees an entire department, sometimes within a large corporation, in order to determine what analyses the team as a whole should be working on—what questions are most pressing at the moment.
There are a few more career paths in real estate research that are important to note: Research needs to be executed during the home transaction process, to ensure that the seller has the legal right to sell the property, and almost always on the house itself, too. The first kind of research is known as a title review and involves a title reviewer digging into the property’s history to ensure there are no unknown liens, missing heirs, or other potential problem with the home sale.
The second kind is what you’d typically think of as a home inspection! These are not always required to complete a transaction, but most agents will recommend that a buyer get an inspection at least for informational purposes. The people who research and evaluate the house physically in-person are known as inspectors, and there are even specialty inspections for specific types of the home or homing in (pun intended!) on certain problem-prone areas of the structure, such as the roof or foundation.