It bears no reminding that real estate development is a complex career. Even for professionals with years of tenure, unforeseen obstacles and changing regulations can significantly hinder the pursuit of successful projects. This variable career path demands equal shares of poise, skill, and flexibility, which may stop developers at their earliest stages of growth.
However, breaking into the development field is far from impossible. According to Joshua Freed, the CEO of Equity Capital Inc, hopeful learners can start cutting their teeth on rewarding projects within just a few years of dedicated learning.
“There’s really no such thing as a real estate development career path,” says Freed. “Certain experiences can help you zero in on your goals, but it’s more about mindset and hard work than anything else; that’s how you’re going to kick off a successful career.”
Freed’s depth of experience with real estate development is both widespread and varied. His portfolio spans decades across multiple continents, with a history of leading projects in Kenya, the Philippines, and the United States. Freed also mentors budding real estate developers with his hard-won insights — some of which he has shared below.
To enlighten passionate learners and provide a foundation for their growth, Freed has disclosed five practical steps for getting started in the field of real estate development.
A successful career in real estate development begins with careful planning, deliberate action, and lifelong learning. Put your best foot forward with these five tips from a seasoned development professional.
1. Find Your Niche
Before you even consider buying property or submitting a bid, ask yourself: what do I really intend to do in this industry?
Real estate development spans a wide variety of niches that appeal to a variety of different people. A few of the most common opportunities include:
- Commercial properties
- Residential properties
- Restoration efforts
Remember: there’s no one set path to becoming a real estate developer. Use your previous experience and personal passions to guide you toward the right answer.
2. Surround Yourself With Experts
No ruler, president, or CEO has lasted long without the help of a trusted team. The same is true for real estate development — especially for less experienced beginners.
It’s important to hand-pick a team of:
- Day laborers
- Real estate agents
Not sure where to start? Reach out to an experienced developer for guidance.
3. Select Your Financing Options
One of the biggest obstacles to real estate development is the capital involved. The good news: you don’t need to have all of it yourself. The bad news: you’ll need to find someone who does — or is willing to share.
Possible financing options for the new real estate developer include:
- Business loans
- Private lenders
Chat with your business mentor to discuss these in greater detail.
4. Start Small And Work Up
Real estate development is a journey rather than a competition, so taking your time in the first few projects could make a world of difference as your portfolio matures.
Freed suggests considering smaller projects such as:
- A single residential property
- A small revitalization project
- A tiny apartment complex
To summarize: if you don’t feel comfortable jumping into a big project, you may want to consolidate your plans. Start small, work slowly, and eat the elephant one bite at a time.
5. Build Your Repertoire
Every budding developer needs three things to be successful: good character, a good work ethic, and a good portfolio.
Look for ways to diversify your experience as much as possible, and dabble in a little of everything within your niche. Becoming a ‘Master of One’ certainly has its benefits, but transforming into a jack of all trades is critical for real estate development.
Combining Passion With Profession
Success is not guaranteed in the world of real estate development. However, with a sound strategy and careful planning, budding developers can manage their risk while maximizing their potential for reward.
It’s always a good idea, to begin with, what you know. Consider your niche, design a game plan, and learn as much as you can about the field in front of you. It’s not possible to do all this alone, so be sure to select a winning team to navigate moments of uncertainty.
Before purchasing land or breaking ground, you’ll still need to select your financing options, building permits, and contractor units. Only once these are secured can you begin construction and legitimately launch your project. Remember: you can still get your feet wet without going ‘all in’ on a major project.
Even at this late stage, your real estate development journey is far from over. According to Freed, the best real estate developers never stop learning and growing to become the best they can be. “You owe it to yourself to invest heavily in your own knowledge, skills, and portfolio,” Freed says. “As long as you stay the course and make learning a lifelong habit, I have no doubt you’ll reap the rewards well into the future.”