Whether they’re building a property from the ground up or are choosing to renovate an existing space to lease — commercial developers wear many hats.
Toronto-based city builder and blogger Brandon Graham Donnelly put it best when he said “Developers are like an orchestra conductor. They don’t play any instruments, they just direct the performance.”
And it’s true. Often, developers oversee the purchase of land, finance deals, facilitate construction and establish designated design standards. It’s a risky business that has the potential to lead to great reward.
Now that I’ve got your interest, here are a few tips to get you started.
First, start small. If you find yourself with the money to invest, begin with a property that can be fixed up and sold as opposed to purchasing unused land right off the bat. For those without the financial means, signing on with a small developer is also an option — it gives you time to raise capital for future investments while climbing the ranks.
You’ll find out quickly that obtaining a degree in a field related to real estate, such as finance or business administration, will take you a long way.
Commercial development requires a quick wit and an in-depth understanding of the law as well as the ins-and-outs of the real estate business. As a developer, you’ll need to remain steadfast in your survey of evolving commercial real estate projections for all four sectors, including office, industrial, retail and multifamily.
While you’re developing your skills in the classroom, get out into the professional world. Aim to land a job that teaches you about real estate sales, development and more.
Time in the field allows you to build relationships with skilled professionals you’ll be relying on in the future. Keep in mind that developers require a vast network made up of lenders, construction crews, and more to do their job with ease.
Quickly, you’ll find yourself involved with more lucrative investments as you continue to develop in your career. So, if this sounds like the right path for you, don’t give up and go for it.
Stefanie Donahue is a freelance writer based in Bellingham, Washington. She’s a well-versed communicator with an extensive background in journalism and media production. Her writing draws from the insight of industry experts to uncover best practices for real estate investors.