Philip A. Seagraves, Dr. Colquitt L. "Buck" Chandler, Jr. Memorial Scholarship

Careers in Real Estate

A major in real estate can prepare you for a diverse group of challenging and rewarding careers. You may choose mortgage lending, sales, leasing, management, valuation, investment analysis or development. You may go into private industry or the public sector. While you may start by working for a small firm or a large corporation, there are many opportunities to strike out on your own.

A real estate degree from GSU provides you with the general background for any of the career areas listed as well as the opportunity to take electives in your specific area of interest.

Appraisers may work in an independent office or on the staff of a lending institution or government agency where they value properties. Appraisers usually specialize in residential or commercial properties. Mortgage lenders hire appraisers when a property owner applies for a loan or refinancing. Government agencies also hire appraisers to value real estate for property taxes and eminent domain. Appraisal requires skill with numbers, attention to detail, and knowledge of the market. Appraisers must be licensed or certified by the state. Courses taken at GSU can help fulfill the educational requirements. Some professional association for appraisers are the Appraisal Institute and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Asset managers oversee the management of a portfolio of investment properties. They may head a corporate property management department, be employed in a property management firm, oversee a lending institution's holdings, or work for pension funds, life insurance companies, or REITs. They advise on portfolio composition and individual property acquisitions and dispositions as well as analyze the portfolio's financial performance. To learn more visit the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries and the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Local, state, and federal government agencies employ real estate professionals. For example, at the national level, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has staff handling assisted-housing developments and FHA loans, the Bureau of Reclamation and the General Service Administration acquire and dispose of property, and GNMA provides insurance on mortgage-backed securities. The departments of transportation and natural resources at the state level employ real estate graduates to acquire and manage real estate and financing programs. Local government real estate-related careers are available in tax assessment and planning and zoning. Career advancement in planning will usually require an advanced degree.
Corporations in all industries, but especially retailers and restaurants, hire real estate professionals to provide in-house expertise in site selection, lease negotiation, development and asset management. Site selection experts must understand urban growth patterns, the linkages important to the business and market analysis techniques. They must understand the physical aspects of real estate and local land use regulations. To reach the executive suite, the corporate real estate professional needs to develop general management skills. Two trade associations are CoreNet Global Corporate Real Estate Network and the Industrial Asset Management Council.
Institutional investors such as pension funds and life insurance companies hire advisors to help them choose where and when to invest. In addition, counselors provide market studies, feasibility studies, site acquisition, and other services. This career attracts those who enjoy conducting research, analysis and writing. The Counselors of Real Estate provide more information.
To become a real estate sales associate you must meet educational requirements and pass a licensing exam administered by the Georgia Real Estate Commission. Your coursework at GSU can count toward the educational requirements. Most real estate salespeople specialize in single-family residential, apartment, retail, office, hospitality or industrial properties. Sales associates must enjoy working with people, as their job is to find listings, match real estate sellers and buyers, and assist in the closing. Salespeople must also be knowledgeable about legal aspects of real estate. The hours vary and the financial rewards are based on commissions. Many real estate salespeople work as independent contractors.
Title companies, real estate agencies, lending institutions, and government agencies employ title personnel. Paralegals in real estate law offices may also help with title work. Title researchers gather title information from public records. The examiner reviews the title search and evaluates the findings for the owner or a title insurance company. Such work requires attention to detail and understanding of legal documents. See the American Land Title Association for more information.
Developers take concepts and turn them into physical reality. They can look at a piece of empty land and imagine it with buildings, roads and landscaping. They may specialize in single-family homes or commercial projects. Career paths usually start with a hands-on job and then progress to project manager and then senior developer. Successful developers must be strategic planners who are creative thinkers and problem solvers. They need knowledge of physical design, financial analysis and construction. Developers must work well with government planning officials, citizen groups and construction workers. The work can be high-stress and calls for long hours. Developers must have strong self-confidence and create a positive reputation to get the cooperation and support necessary to be successful. A group that gives insight into development is the Urban Land Institute. The National Association of Home Builders is a trade group for the home building industry.
Real estate educators work in colleges and universities around the world teaching in undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Most four-year colleges and universities require instructors to have a doctorate degree. Professional schools also need instructors to teach courses that meet licensing and continuing education requirements. Real estate researchers may pursue careers through university research centers, trade associations, government agencies and private industry. An advanced degree will be needed with study in economics, statistics and research methodology. Two academic research organizations are the American Real Estate Society and the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.
Many property owners hire a management firm to select tenants, negotiate leases, manage the day-to-day operations of the property and prepare reports. Property managers must be skilled at marketing and working with people, as well as keeping organized records. To progress, candidates must have strong financial skills. This career path often starts as an on-site assistant manager, then property manger, and then manager of larger properties or regional manager of multiple properties. Managers are needed for apartments, retail centers and office buildings. Trade associations include the International Council of Shopping Centers and the Building Owners and Managers Association.