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Thread: Pursuing a career in real estate development with architecture background?

  1. #1
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    Pursuing a career in real estate development with architecture background?

    Hi all,

    I recently stumbled upon the MSRED program while researching for grad school programs. I want to learn more about this career before I decide to go into it.

    Here's my background: I graduated from UC Berkeley last year with BA. Architecture. I'll have three years of work experience in architectural firm before I apply back to school. I am a LEED AP. I am currently in the final round of an international urban planning design competition in Taiwan.

    Here's why I am considering this career change: Being a lowly paid intern architect at a primarly education-based architectural firm, I decided that I want a change. Real estate development seemed like a reasonable choice. I was never the artistic one or humanitarian ones in architecture school. In fact, I like to approach projects from the budget side, more down to earth than my fellow colleagues. The design competition experience also made me realize building grand architecture comes from the initial urban planning and the entrepreneurship of the developers.

    My questions: I have researched some of the top schools that offers the MSRED program (MIT, Columbia, USC) and their applicants and a lot of those who are accepted have more experience and more so, direct experience in real estate. For someone like me, without any experience in real estate, with some related architecture experience, how likely is my chance of being accepted in the MSRED programs? and what kind of preparations do I need? Would it be easier to get a MBA with real estate concentration? any career path suggestions? what exactly is lying ahead of me if I am to choose to go down this road?


    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thank you,

    Dary

  2. #2
    Cyburbian drjb's avatar
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    First off, go bears, I am a Berkeley grad as well.

    As for the MRED degree, I would say that unfortunately you need a bit more financially based experience before considering such a degree. I would suggest maybe taking some extension classes on real estate finance and the like in order to hone your skills and show an acceptance committee that you are serious about their program.

    If this isn't what you want to do, see if you can get some more experience at your firm by working more directly with the developers/owners of the projects you are working on. Maybe then, you will see a bit more of the financial aspect of their developments.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Haha Go bears!
    im going to USC game this saturday. Hope we'll win!

    Thanks for your feeback drjb. Instead of taking extension classes, what do you think about a MBA with real estate focus?

    What is the job outlook like? I also saw some graduates of these program became facility managers for big corporate firms. What do you think about these positions?
    And by the way, would you mind telling me what's your background?

    Thanks,

    Dary

  4. #4
    Cyburbian drjb's avatar
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    Cal is being Cal this year once again, so I don't have high hopes.

    My background is in real estate and economic development consulting. I received my MUP from UCLA after Berkeley and have been working for a real estate consulting firm ever since. We do a wide range of economic consulting for developers and municipalities.

    I think an MBA with a real estate focus would be good too, but again you need to prove that you have the prerequisite knowledge of finance and development, not only design. This means that you need to show, either through your work experience or education, that you have the basic knowledge they will be looking for when they review your application.

    As for facilities management, I am not as familiar with the job requirements, but I don't believe they would be as stringent as working for a development company's acquisitions or finance departments. Although I may be wrong. But generally, facilities management will deal with a lot of bookkeeping and contract negotiations, which are not the same as working in real estate development.

  5. #5
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    drjb,

    sadly but not surprisingly we lost again.

    I see you've got your MUP from UCLA. Does that degree give you enough training to work as a developer? or did you receive training in finance and development from Cal? how do you like your job and career? can you somehow describe what you do as a consultant and how is that different from an actual developer firm?

    I've actually taken quite a few econ/BA classes in Cal since I once applied for the business school and did not get in. I've taken all the prerequisite for business school and also taken a mico econ (econ 100a) and financial accounting (ba 102a) and finance (ba 103). Do you think this would be enough to show the schools my intentions?

    Thanks again for all your responses,

    Dary

  6. #6
    Cyburbian drjb's avatar
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    Dary,

    My background at Cal gave me some basic understanding of real estate development, but it wasn't until I went to grad school that I really got a much better understanding of the field. Depending on your focus in a MUP program, you can go many different routes. I decided to focus on real estate development and economic development with a little focus on urban design. The UCLA program, along with a few key internships got me on the right track, knowledge wise.

    As a consultant, I work on a variety of economic analyses for both developers and cities. We do proforma analyses where we are hired by developers to assist them with their development concepts. We also do residual land value analyses, financial gap analyses, fiscal impact reports, economic impact analyses, urban decay analyses, and a smattering of site planning analyses. In all of these cases, we are hired by the developer/city to assist them.

    I enjoy my work as a consultant for the most part however, I recently started my own development company on the side (my night job, so to speak) and am working on my first residential project. We'll see how it goes given the economy, but if it goes well, I might be on the other side of the table hiring the consultants instead of being the consultant.

    As for the classes you have taken, it sounds like you have a good grasp of some of the basics of finance and accounting, but you may want to take some classes that relate directly to real estate such as a real estate investment analysis class or even better a case studies class. All in all, I think if you really want to apply to grad school programs you just need to apply, you'll never really know if you will get in until you apply. That being said, make sure you are ready for the commitment, both in time and money.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    I'm in the same boat as dary.

    I'm a MArch, 3-years experience (4 by fall 2010), willing to change!

    I had 2-years experience in lowly-paid international architecture firms (starchitect), in 2 different countries. Been made redundant and got a job in South-East Asia, though working for a local company. My salary is better than in the Western world (and cost of life is way cheaper ) but still I'm missing the good points a real-estate developer could get in this market (commissions). I would never get rich being a design architect, that's for sure. My office's client is one of the wealthiest developers in the country, in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

    I understand that a typical architectural career (design architect in a a typical corporate office in the States or Europe) is not very appealing for a MRED commitee. Could that change having worked in a fast-growing economy with direct contact to local developers?

    I'm trying to change (not because I don't like my current job but I don't want to continue designing) and get a job in a developers' office but the market is extremely hard even here, and I lack experience in the field.

    Any tip?

    Thx

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