Resources to Learn Real Estate Development


Do y'all know of any great resources to learn about real estate development?  I'm interested in learning more about development and in, potentially transitioning from architecture to development.

May 24, 22 4:23 pm
Non Sequitur

great resources for development are easy to find.  You just need access to capital (preferably not your own) and own land.  The rest are minor details.

May 24, 22 4:26 pm  · 
 ·  1

How much time and money are you willing to invest in your learning effort?  There are masters degree programs in the US for people wanting to go into development; some are called "sustainable real estate development".  There's also a traveling guy who does seminars for 1-2 days for architects who want to get into development.  The architects I personally know who are in development are self-taught and doing it on a fairly small scale by buying and rehabbing houses and small apartment buildings.  Developers generally start with smaller projects and move to successively larger things. 

May 24, 22 5:59 pm  · 

Do you happen to have a name for the traveling guy that does seminars?

May 25, 22 3:42 pm  · 

Also curious about this. Can't tell if the Master's degrees are worth it or not...

May 24, 22 6:11 pm  · 

Do you already have a B.Arch?

May 24, 22 6:14 pm  · 

Yep, and an M. Arch.

May 25, 22 1:00 pm  · 

Interesting.  Why both?  Are you interested in teaching?  Was the quality of education just that much better between your B.Arch and M.Arch programs?  

May 26, 22 5:00 pm  · 

i'm trying to keep the costs low.  Not trying to get a graduate degree - mostly interested in learning how the process works from start to finish to get a better sense for how I can get involved in development.

So far, I think i found a few potential course / guide options:


May 25, 22 10:10 am  · 
1  · 

I am interested too. That is where the real $$ is. Just read a book. The process is easy to learn. Here is the book I read. 

The hard part to get started is how to get the capital. If you do not have your own capital from a rich family, then you need to borrow. No institution will lend it to you without assets and experience. Even if you have the capital, the real hard part to be successful at it is the intuition on market trends and economic growth. Research helps to a degree.

May 25, 22 3:00 pm  · 

Thanks Jay, This book looks like a great place to start, ordering it now.

May 25, 22 3:41 pm  · 

Go work for a developer, you'll get paid to learn.

May 25, 22 3:50 pm  · 

What developers are doing interesting/innovative work though? Hard to sign up for your typical developer schlop. Would be nice if you could still be proud of the work.

May 26, 22 12:31 pm  · 

How much of the work you do now is interesting / innovative?

May 26, 22 1:53 pm  · 

Honestly, all of it and I know I'm lucky to be able to say that.

May 26, 22 2:10 pm  · 

I would be focused on asset class rather than 'interesting work', find a small shop that will let you get involved in the financing and acquisitions side too.

May 26, 22 3:59 pm  · 
1  · 

The_Crow - I'd like to believe you but . . .

Even at the firms that only do interesting and innovated work - not all of their team members do interesting and innovate work.  

May 26, 22 4:03 pm  · 

You're absolutely right, not all do. Guess I should count myself lucky.

May 26, 22 4:32 pm  · 

You should buy a lotto ticket then. The majority of architects don't work on only innovative projects. Interesting is subjective.  

That is unless you're still in school - then all your projects are innovative because everything is mind blowingly new. 

 I thought I was lucky in my career path / projects. Even I had to design projects with standard means / methods and not be innovative. 

Are you in a specialty consulting position or a more traditional type architectural firm? 

What kinds of projects do you work on?

May 26, 22 4:57 pm  · 

I am pretty sure real estate is about money and not the building. And those working for developer is there to learn so they can get into the same game later to make $$. If you are rich already, of course innovative architecture will give you more superior satisfaction. Man, I really want my own custom house. 

May 26, 22 5:33 pm  · 
1  · 

Everything in architecture is about money. Every project has a budget you need to adhere to, this is normal. You can and will encounter developers that want to build something unique and are willing to spend the money to do so.

May 26, 22 5:44 pm  · 
 ·  1

In a traditional office and focus on large-scale public projects. There's usually something innovative to be found in every project.

May 27, 22 12:38 pm  · 

To all the wannabees,

Architecture is real estate development.

Pecking order of the business- 

Rich folks (RF's) with money to spend, to avoid taxes and to create wealth.

RF's with tons of cash, works deal with banks or other institutions to use their/others $$ to fund projects.

RF's hire building designers/architects, engineers & builders to get the job done.

RF's hire property management group to run the building and the RF's continue the process or invests in other assets depending on the economy.

A small % architects and builders are developers, but builders are more likely. A higher % of developers have MBA's, know financing and have a network of consultants and access to $$.

Online searches for "Architect as Developer" is a better quiry that RE Development- Jonathan Segal has been developing for a long time. James Petty's book is helpful.  An MBA is usefull, but might be overkill and the text books are of little functional help, but more about learning to network and build connections in the industry.

Best approach for anyone in architecture, is get experience all the way to completion of projects and lots of CA.  Learn all the phases, budgets, CG's, financiers, network and ask questions.  Keep your day job and learn everything. Once you have lots of CA experience, maybe you'll be ready to work for a developer.

You can always switch to construction and work your way up from a crew position to project engineer, to project manager on up to developer.

While you keep your day job- get your skin in the game- buy a small cosmetic fixer house, add on to it and renovate it with your design and a budget, hold for 2yrs, sell and repeat a few times.  Maybe buy dirt and build new off your design.  Maybe your addition is a rentable unit to bring in $.  

Its a long process, long hours all week long.  I've been at the process for several years and made a humble success and I don't need to pay a mortgage on any property and have a small income coming in from a few rentals I own.  It isn't easy, financing is hard to get without significant income and running it as a business; and I'm the guy who fixes the broken faucets and deals with tenants.  I can cash out and live ok, but I'd rather keep working.  After several years on my own, I'm returning to the industry, working for regular pay and will be continuing to build my portfolio and experience.  Some day I might be able to build new on my own dime.

My mentor, during my RE development MBA program, was a former civil engineer who worked for 30yrs before he started his first real project at retirement and developed about 6 buildings before he passed away at 87.  One of my instructors was a developer who was teaching b/c the industry imploded and sat on a huge project for several years before he could get it built, now he's doing very well.  You're always up against many things- $, costs, time and life.

Good luck on your endeavors.

May 27, 22 4:05 pm  · 

What is real estate? Genuine question

May 27, 22 9:50 pm  · 

Late to the thread but wanted to give my $0.02:

  1. The M.S. degrees can be useful (mostly the network) but is definitely not necessary unless your expressed goal is to (especially right away) work at Related, Hines, etc.
  2. Adding onto point 1: might want to think a bit about whether you are interested specifically in development or real estate in general, which consists of a range of other activities.
  3. It’s the kind of business where network really matters. Can’t stress this point enough. The best thing you can do to start is to connect with people already in development, which shouldn’t be too hard if you have already worked a bit in AEC.
  4. Ambition to build “interesting/innovative work” is great – but keep in mind the fundamental technical skills (finance, legal, negotiations, etc.) are universal. Don’t be too picky when you are just getting a foot in the door. There are a lot of developers who build work with real positive impacts and innovative designs out there, and you can be one eventually if that’s what you want to do.
  5. Development is a pretty grassroots / entrepreneurial activity so expect to find a lot of mom-and-pop shops developing all kinds of products to various degrees of success. @DJ7910 ‘s path is probably a good and positive example of what that looks like. Otherwise, you can also work your way through a big institutional developer which will open other doors.
  6. Sounds like you are still in the early stages of your career. I think at this point working for a large developer might be a good way to be exposed to the whole range of business activities associated with development; otherwise, construction might also be a good way to start.
  7. Starting out by yourself can be rewarding but also highly risky (not to mention hard). Development is a very risky business, and you will no doubt make mistakes as a beginner. I would be very careful about taking other people’s money at this point, even if it’s friends/family.
  8. Real estate in general is highly cyclical although there’s money to be made at all times if you are in the right position. Might be hard to start developing in current macroeconomic conditions, but I’m sure the entry-level jobs are aplenty still.
  9. Might wanna check out places like WSO. They have a dedicated RE board although it’s mostly RE finance stuff (I think). People like to comment random bs on Archinect (not naming any names but some more frequently than others) even when they have no idea what they are talking about. WSO is generally much more insightful.
Jun 10, 22 1:05 pm  · 

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