Real Estate Developer
Real Estate Developer
Education and Training: Varies—see profile
Salary: Varies—see profile
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Real estate developers work in one of the most challenging areas of the real estate field—land development. They purchase large tracts of land on which they build residential communities, industrial complexes, and shopping malls or other commercial structures. Sometimes they buy neglected properties and turn them into modern apartment complexes or commercial centers.
Developers must be able to recognize the potential of a particular property. Once they select the site for a prospective development, they must secure enough "seed" money to purchase the land. Real estate developers collaborate with architects to design the proposed development. The developer is also responsible for hiring a contractor to build the development. Upon completion of the construction, either a real estate broker or the developer's own real estate organization puts the houses or other buildings up for sale or lease.
Education and Training Requirements
Real estate developers must have broad knowledge of the different aspects and phases of real estate, as well as strong skills in financial management. To acquire this knowledge, most prospective developers take postsecondary school courses offered by local real estate boards, community colleges, technical schools, or universities. Many real estate developers hold master's degrees in business administration, marketing, urban planning, and related fields.
In addition, most people interested in becoming developers gain experience in the real estate field as salespeople, leasing agents, or brokers. Real estate developers must possess strong entrepreneurial instincts and communication skills, because they need to sell their ideas to succeed.
Getting the Job
Most real estate developers begin with an entry-level position in real estate. The classified sections of newspapers and Internet job banks list openings for entry-level positions. You can also apply directly to real estate firms. Some real estate developers gain experience by working in the construction industry. The placement offices of colleges and technical schools have lists of available positions.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Real estate developers may work for large real estate agencies or land development firms. They advance by taking on increasingly larger and more complex projects. Some eventually specialize in certain types of land development, such as industrial complexes or even entire communities. Successful developers sometimes start their own development and construction firms or real estate organizations.
The real estate industry as a whole is greatly affected by economic trends. Overall, however, the job growth for real estate developers is expected to be good through the year 2014. Job opportunities will vary in different areas of the country depending on a region's specific needs and economic health.
Real estate developers work in offices but may spend a lot of time searching for sites, overseeing construction, and meeting with bankers, architects, contractors, and others involved in the development project. The work can be exciting and challenging but also stressful and financially risky.
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings for real estate developers vary widely depending on many factors, including geographic location, the size and success of projects, and the condition of the economy. Some experienced real estate developers who own their own firms earn $1 million or more a year. However, those developers who invest a great deal of money in an unsuccessful project may lose their entire investment.
Where to Go for More Information
National Association of REALTORS
430 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Developers employed by real estate firms or development companies may have some benefits provided for them. Self-employed developers must provide their own benefits.