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How do I become a real estate developer?

I am 20 and interested in real estate and finance and becoming a real-estate developer. Would love to hear recommendations about how to do this on the side. I am studying finance at uni. finance real-estate property realestate

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John’s Answer

If you are interested in Commerical real estate (in your case, specifically development) I would first start by joining any real estate groups at your college and get active there. Then, look to trade organizations like ICSC for retail (, ULI ( ), or BOMA ( ) since they all have programs for students and are full of professionals in your market. From there, network and find yourself an internship with a company that is big enough to have large enough assets/projects and small enough that you can get exposed to all aspects of the business since being a good developer requires you to be good with finance, construction, revenue procurement, and operations.
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Ryan’s Answer

Hi Ben!

I am graduating from USC in a few months and going into Real Estate Development. I agree with John that it would be a great start to join real estate orgs and learn about different parts of the industry. Real estate clubs are great and so is ULI!! A lot people starting out in development have finance backgrounds, but I am going into is from a design/architecture background.

I found that talking to as many people in the Real Estate industry as I could was the most helpful thing. A great way to do it if you do not have anyone int your network is to reach out to people on LinkedIn. Additionally, talking to your peers with similar interests is super helpful too. A lot of people who work in development did not start there so do not be afraid to try out something like acquisitions, asset management or even brokerage! That way you get exposure to more deals whereas in development you often work on a single project for years.

Best of luck!
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Adam’s Answer

I would encourage you to look at becoming a realtor/broker first. This would allow you to understand the market in your geography, and make connections in the industry. Being a developer requires a lot of investment capital upfront. Developers need capital to buy large tracts of land, and then build residential or commercial property on it. Initially, this might require partnerships with investors or large property management firms, until the development firm makes enough money of its own to develop properties. Starting as a real estate agent would likely allow you to make those connections with the type of investors who have this kind of capital and desire to invest in developments.

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Chris’s Answer

If your goal is to become a real estate developer you need to get involved in real estate any way you can ASAP. You're looking for a foot in to door so don't be too picky finding any opportunity to begin your journey. Once you've begun somewhere other opportunities will present themselves to you as you continue to work hard and prove yourself. Have you contacted any local real estate pros you respect? Have you asked them for their advice? You need to take a proactive approach and get started any way you can. You'll be surprised how many people are willing to help if you ask them for help.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

Contact a local realtor you respect and ask them for advice.