How to Become a Real Estate Developer

How to Become a Real Estate Developer

by The CE Shop Team

What Is a Real Estate Developer?

When you get into the real estate industry, there are numerous paths you can take, which is one of the many perks to this business. It’s often one that gets overlooked, too. You don’t have to stay as a real estate agent if a different facet of the industry catches your eye. Your preliminary skills and knowledge base gained as a real estate agent can set you up for success within one of these niches, such as becoming a real estate developer. You’re likely wondering how to become a real estate developer; becoming a real estate developer takes more experience than other real estate careers, but this role can be particularly rewarding and lucrative. This guide will cover how to get into real estate development. Perhaps most importantly, it will answer the question: What is a real estate developer? 

What Do Real Estate Developers Do?

Before we get into how to become a real estate developer, let’s get a clearer idea of what the role requires. From the start of a project until its completion, a real estate developer plays an integral part from the purchasing of the land to the imagination and creation of the property’s development. In some instances, a developer even helps with the construction of the project.

Becoming a real estate developer is definitely rewarding, but according to various industry experts, developers usually take on the most risk in a project. That means there is potential to fail, just like anything else in real estate. To mitigate any risk of failure as much as possible, real estate developers often fulfill the following tasks: 

  • Vet potential properties 
  • Purchase properties/land for new projects 
  • Negotiate sales
  • Finance real estate deals
  • Work with investors 
  • Acquire permits
  • Manage construction
  • Manage staff 
  • Plan and complete real estate projects
  • Focus on the creation and renovation of real estate

Pro Tip:

Becoming a real estate broker does not require you to have a real estate education background. That said, if you are interested in pursuing a real estate development career, a relevant undergraduate degree or a graduate degree such as a Master of Science in Real Estate, Master of Real Estate Development, or an MBA can put you ahead. It can also help you make worthwhile connections with other people in the industry.

What Experience do Real Estate Developers Need?

There is no one single way to become a real estate developer; that’s one of the great things about real estate. Your journey and the eventual destination are entirely up to you. However, there are ways to get on the right track when it comes to real estate development. Getting a real estate license or earning a higher degree in a related field in conjunction with relevant work experience such as that of an agent or broker will move you in the right direction toward becoming a real estate developer. 

Real Estate Development Paths?

Since there are numerous paths to take in real estate, you’re likely unsurprised to learn that there are different career paths within real estate development as well. Real estate developers may also dip their toes into roles like: 

  • Architectural designer 
  • Project manager 
  • Construction 
  • Investment analyst 

This list is not all-inclusive of what you can do within real estate development. Becoming a real estate developer isn’t just about the requirements you need to fulfill but also knowing what it is you want to do. The best way to determine your ideal career path is by connecting with an expert in real estate development. We recommend shadowing professionals to find your real estate development niche and discover what type of properties you are interested in. Then, ask questions. How did this person get to where they are? How did they become a real estate developer? What suggestions do they have regarding becoming a real estate developer? And what is real estate development in their mind?

Steps to Become a Real Estate Developer

To break this down further, we’ve outlined the four steps you can take to become a real estate developer.

Step 1: Get an Education 

As we noted at earlier, a real estate education background is not required to become a real estate developer. But if you are interested in pursuing a real estate development career, a relevant undergraduate degree or a graduate degree (such as a Master of Science in Real Estate, Master of Real Estate Development, or an MBA) can put you ahead. It also can also help you network with other people in the industry.

Step 2: Establish a Real Estate Investment Network 

When it comes to success in real estate, becoming a real estate developer is no different; it’s all about connections. To better connect with other industry professionals, here are some networking tips. Discover your local Centers of Influence (COI). These are people who are widely connected and respected throughout your local community. In other words, they know people - they know lots of people, and they can connect you with the people who they know. Also, embrace social media. If you want to reach new clients, creating an active, engaging social media presence is a must. Follow up on online interactions with your business card in hand. Engage with potential clients, digitally or in person. Invest in their life and show them that you care. If you put the work in now, you’ll reap the benefits later.

Step 3: Join a Real Estate Development Firm 

Your local COI may be able to assist in this step, but if they can’t, research potential good fits in your area. Look up real estate development firms in your area, then read up on the projects they’ve undertaken and their company mission. Try to schedule an interview with them if it feels like a good fit. Whatever you do, just make sure you’re keeping an eye out for a real estate development firm that you could join as doing so is one of the most important steps in becoming a real estate developer. It’s how you build your name and reputation in this sub-industry. 

Step 4: Gain Experience and Become Independent

You got the education, established your network, and joined a firm - now all that’s left to do is to bust your tail. If you want to stay at the firm after you’ve gained some experience, it’s entirely up to you. If you have thoughts of becoming an independent real estate developer, though, you’ll have to find ways to make yourself stand out. Consider the needs and wants of your local business owners - are there areas where people are underserved that would benefit from your expertise? This final step will not only set you up on how to become a real estate developer, but how to become a successful real estate developer. And remember: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!