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ChiTownCity Dec 6, 2010 3:38 PM

Guide: How to Become a Developer
 
Exactly what are some of the ways to become a developer? Would majoring in architecture be a good way to get into this field or would it be best to major in a strictly business field?

Zerton Dec 6, 2010 4:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChiTownCity (Post 5082516)
Exactly what are some of the ways to become a developer? Would majoring in architecture be a good way to get into this field or would it be best to major in a strictly business field?

I don't think an architecture education would be overly helpful. I would definitely recommend a business education, ruthlessness, and maybe an inheritance of a few million. :haha:

ChiTownCity Dec 6, 2010 4:21 PM

^just for houses not highrises

Busy Bee Dec 6, 2010 5:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Zerton (Post 5082546)
I don't think an architecture education would be overly helpful. I would definitely recommend a business education, ruthlessness, and maybe an inheritance of a few million. :haha:

Having a keen eye for an opportunity is a must. Seeing value and potential where other may not (yet). This 'vision' will give a developer an edge over the others. You just have to be careful not to make the wrong bet or you'll find yourself and your company bankrupt.

Developer wish list:

1) great taste in architecture

2) not a greedy a*hole

3) won't cheapen out on the materials that often make or break a development

4) doesn't settle for the path of least resistance. Sticks with their vision and convinces the unconvincible

5) not evil

6) has a thorough understand of what is good urban design and bad urban design, even if those of authority don't

7) passionate not just about doubling or tripling their investment, but genuinely wants to improve the public sphere and the standards of the business

8) not a greedy a*hole

9) not a greedy a*hole

10) not a greedy a*hole

ChiTownCity Dec 6, 2010 5:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 5082638)
Having a keen eye for an opportunity is a must. Seeing value and potential where other may not (yet). This 'vision' will give a developer an edge over the others. You just have to be careful not to make the wrong bet or you'll find yourself and your company bankrupt.

Developer wish list:

1) great taste in architecture

2) not a greedy a*hole

3) won't cheapen out on the materials that often make or break a development

4) doesn't settle for the path of least resistance. Sticks with their vision and convinces the unconvincible

5) not evil

6) has a thorough understand of what is good urban design and bad urban design, even if those of authority don't

7) passionate not just about doubling or tripling their investment, but genuinely wants to improve the public sphere and the standards of the business

8) not a greedy a*hole

9) not a greedy a*hole

10) not a greedy a*hole

well that sounds like me :). I know that it would make more sense to get a business major but I was thinking that if I major in architecture then I'll have a better understanding about what it is that I'm actually trying to build (better knowledge about materials and all that stuff). I'm definitely not trying to get into this field for money. Also if I had experience as an architect then wouldn't it be possible for me to design some of my own projects? or would that be too much? Thanks for the response in advance, sorry for taking this thread off topic...

Busy Bee Dec 6, 2010 6:21 PM

Architect - developers is kind of the final frontier. Unfortunately I think both fields are resistant to it, because it dilutes their "mission," especially the architecture. But I say the hell with it. I'm a huge supporter of the concept - especially in housing development where the design could be developed and managed by an individual or very small firm, unlike a complex commercial development that requires an entire firm 2 years to carry out a design program.

a chicago bearcat Dec 6, 2010 7:14 PM

as an architecture & urban design graduate, I'd suggest you get a business degree, with a minor in urban studies. Then you can choose to do grad school in architecture or in real estate. Architecture is much more art oriented in undergraduate, & becomes more technical in grad school.

Focus on getting educated in:
understanding housing markets
community development
complex financing
transit oriented development
marketing
management

then get yourself a creative partner for your developments, & act as the ying to their yang

richb Dec 6, 2010 11:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChiTownCity (Post 5082664)
well that sounds like me :). I know that it would make more sense to get a business major but I was thinking that if I major in architecture then I'll have a better understanding about what it is that I'm actually trying to build (better knowledge about materials and all that stuff). I'm definitely not trying to get into this field for money. Also if I had experience as an architect then wouldn't it be possible for me to design some of my own projects? or would that be too much? Thanks for the response in advance, sorry for taking this thread off topic...


If you are wanting to just build houses, that actually would make you a home builder, not a developer. At least at the beginning anyway, because you would likely buy lots from existing land developers or just finding empty lots. Developing is buying land, dividing it, and going though all the processes of getting a project approved. An expensive process that requires very deep pockets. Not for a beginner.

I am working on entering the development/ home building business myself. I am doing it via being a realtor. A college degree doesn't count for much in the real estate business especially if you are working for yourself. Being in the business of real estate will give you a far better sense of where you could build a real business, no school can do that.

As of this point I won't be a developer for a long time. I will do one house at a time for the time being. Building individuals houses and land developing really are different things, but moving from house building to more and bigger projects is the way to go. Experience counts for a lot.

ChiTownCity Dec 7, 2010 3:07 AM

:previous: Thanks Busy Bee, A Chicago Bearcat, & Richb. That will definitely come in handy. I'm currently finishing up getting my credits to transfer (finals next week) and definitely needed to get a good idea on where to go to first. I know becoming an actual developer would be decades down the road for me.

My plan is to start on individual homes and lots and basically gradually move up from there to the point where I can purchase lots in prime areas. Seeing the developmental patterns that have been going on for quite a while now in this city (from an architectural standpoint ie whole blocks of prairie fields where beautiful rowhomes once stood) really made me concerned for the city as a whole and I would like to reverse the direction its currently heading in (aside from more affluent neighborhoods).

I currently have a connection to a small architect firm and not sure how long that would last that's why I was thinking getting the bachelors in architecture first would be good :shrug:.

Well after I finish this semester I'll be able to transfer to a four year school, got all summer to figure out exactly each step from here. Getting a business degree first won't exactly put me in the playing field though opposed to working on an internship in a firm where I can ask questions and get credible answers... Idk Thanks for the responses once again....

Rizzo Dec 7, 2010 3:35 AM

I knew alot of people who intend to become developers / working for developers at the moment. Actually all of them don't have architecture degrees. They went into an urban studies program, took real estate development courses, some cross disciplinary law courses (not really necessary), and some business classes. If you are not in it for the money I wouldn't go that route....because each of these professions is so particularly focused on what they do. Money and cost vs high quality design. Heck certainly, I'd love the role of architect and developer, but I think I'd end up broke trying to make my vision reality. Point is, don't spread your interests too thin. On one hand it's great having alot of academic experience in different areas, but it can also be hassle when employers want someone very focused in their career.

Sorry I got off topic as well. Actually this discussion would make a really great new thread if the mods are interested in relocating the posts.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 7, 2010 3:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChiTownCity (Post 5082516)
Exactly what are some of the ways to become a developer? Would majoring in architecture be a good way to get into this field or would it be best to major in a strictly business field?

Do business and take as many courses on real estate that they offer. I am currently working on this myself. I got myself a good job during college working at a Real Estate Law Firm that taught me a ton and worked there for two plus years. Worked for a while at a tech start up which was a complete distraction from my real passion for real estate. I recently moved over to doing a combination of brokerage and consulting on corporate accounts. I am now in the process of buying my first building which is a two flat. I intend to live downtstairs and rent the top while I save up to rennovate the whole thing and sell it. Given the fact that its selling for about $150k in a market where a renovated two flat went for $500k to $750 three years ago, that should give me enough capital to really get going and either use it as collateral on other loans or just sell it to an investor and leverage the capital on other deals. Its going to take time and a lot of work, but I'm so close I can taste it.

Its funny, I was asking the exact same question on here four years ago so the advice I have for you works. Remember the following:

1. Be prepared to work your ass off
2. Be willing to take a risk. You have nothing to lose.
3. NETWORK at all possible opportunities. Real Estate is all about who you know
4. LEARN. Get yourself an internship or job at a real estate law firm, consultant, developer, or brokerage. Reference point one here. If you can't find a paying position or get a job through a connection, then approach local real estate people and offer to work for three. You can't do points 1-3 without number four. Most of Real Estate is something you can't learn in school, its good to have a education that gives you chops with numbers, but you need to have hands on experience.
5. Get your brokers license and do it as fast as possible. Its impressive to people if you have a license and a college degree at a young age. It also proves that you aren't just another business student groping everywhere they can looking for just another job to hold them over. It also only costs $600, but you can get the Illinois Realtors Association scholarship for college students who are interested in real estate.


If you do points 1-5 you will find yourself knowing what steps you have to take to become a developer in a couple years. I can't tell you how to become one because everyone does it differently, but I can tell you that if you do the above, you will figure it out yourself if you really have a passion for it.



PS: I double majored in Economics and Finance and graduated in 3.5 years so I could get a jump start on my goal.

PSS: The only developers that I know of who have an architecture degree are David Hovey and Antonvich. Architecture is a very uncommon way to get into the business.

To be honest if you are young, be aggressive and just throw yourself out there for every developer, consultant, REIT, and real estate law firm in the city and be willing to work your ass off for little to nothing. You will never have another opportunity in your life again where you won't need a fully paying job and there are a lot of REITS and developers right now that are ramping up their operation and running lean and mean in this environment. Getting a some college kid to do their admin work and pick up their lunch so they can work all day without stopping will be extremely tempting to them.

Also its not necessarily decades off, I will be officially a small time developer as soon as this deal closes in January meaning I went from punk ass college kid to "developer" (albeit small scale right now) in less than 5 years. And I'm still only 23...

ChiTownCity Dec 7, 2010 3:43 PM

^ Thanks NowhereMan now that'll definitely help me out! I work much more aggressively when I get clear descriptions. I currently know a couple people personally that work in the real estate department (not sure exactly what do they do but I'll ask). I also currently own a property (not mines but my mom's and we were renovating it but started accumulating too much debt. Currently renting out another one), so I'll have 1 property to work on when I get this ball rolling. Do you have any recommendations for schools that may be a good choice? Where did you graduate from? I would still like to head to NY for school, but now it doesn't seem like that'll be a good idea...

VivaLFuego Dec 7, 2010 4:36 PM

^ I'd advise being VERY careful accumulating any student loan debt. $50-100k in student loans (both the debt on your credit report and the monthly payments from your budget) will be a substantial hindrance when you're trying to get loans for multi-unit buildings, put down cash to pick up a vacant lot, and so on.

In general, I think the advice has been sound: start small, building a portfolio of smaller rental properties. These act as collateral and as cash flow to support you gradually moving to bigger and bigger projects.

Balance your "free work" (which youre doing for fun and your own advancement) with the fact that you will actually need some income to get in the game --- you'll need some cash for those vacant lots, and as a down payment on that first three-flat.

spyguy Dec 7, 2010 4:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5083475)
PSS: The only developers that I know of who have an architecture degree are David Hovey and Antonvich. Architecture is a very uncommon way to get into the business.

Roszak, although that's more of a cautionary tale.

wrab Dec 7, 2010 7:17 PM

^ Also, Lowenberg of Magellan (he's an MIT grad).

aic4ever Dec 7, 2010 9:37 PM

As to the background to prepare for becoming a developer, I would advise working for a contractor for maybe two or three years, so that you get an understanding of how jobs get contracted out, and how costs come together.

I can't tell you how silly some of the numbers are that some developers think they can build things for. The biggest reason I've seen for so many foreclosed/stalled projects (Staybridge), or projects that just didn't go (Mondrian), is that the developer had a ludicrously low construction budget and either ran out of money after starting, or just never got started because the original deal was predicated on a fictional construction number.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 8, 2010 2:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChiTownCity (Post 5083915)
^ Thanks NowhereMan now that'll definitely help me out! I work much more aggressively when I get clear descriptions. I currently know a couple people personally that work in the real estate department (not sure exactly what do they do but I'll ask). I also currently own a property (not mines but my mom's and we were renovating it but started oppurtunitiesaccumulating too much debt. Currently renting out another one), so I'll have 1 property to work on when I get this ball rolling. Do you have any recommendations for schools that may be a good choice? Where did you graduate from? I would still like to head to NY for school, but now it doesn't seem like that'll be a good idea...

Good, be careful using too much debt to renovate properties. Do as much of the labor as you can by yourself on your first properties. Spend the money you save on better finishes, it will pay off.

I graduated from Loyola University Chicago. Don't go there unless you can get a lot of scholarship. I had about 2/3 scholarship and still ended up with $40k in debt. How old are you now? You should look at schools in an around Chicago simply because you will have the best networking opportunities there (business school is more about networking than learning). Look at UIC (virtually free for Illinois residents) and IIT (can be pricey). See if you can get scholarships at Loyola and DePaul, but don't got there unless you do. Another excellent alternative is to look at University of Wisconsin - Madison. The only problem is that their business program is extremely hard to get into. Same goes for University of Illinois...

Going to school in NYC will be expensive, but have slightly better networking opportunities than Chicago. Then again, Chicago is a much more affordable market to start in.

Again, the entire time you are in school you should be thinking "are you going to be a useful contact in the future" every time you meet someone. This includes professors, family friends, friends, and random people at parties. When you meet someone who impresses you, befriend them and it will pay dividends.

ChiTownCity Dec 8, 2010 3:51 PM

^ Well I know I can get into UIC (I was accepted but decided not to go because of NY. and my sister works there so I might be able to get some kind of... or maybe not). I just made 19 back in October and I currently have a 2.8 gpa (should easily be a 3 point something after finals... still not trying as hard as I know I can). I know I can't get financial aid and as far as scholarships go, I doubt I would be able to land one now that I'm out of high school....

I do know a couple contractors aic4ever so I'll see if they'll let me tag along. I think I have the basis to really get started now, Thanks once again!! (too bad i won't be able to live in new york any time soon... oh well)

siunate2324 Dec 8, 2010 7:32 PM

Chitowncity, you have finally prompted me to get an account on SSP...I've been lurking these forums daily since about 2004 when I was about 14, but never registered since I really have no pertinent info to share. For years I've learned alot about development and real estate on this website listening to the guys like SpyGuy, Bvic, Tup, etc. and I have to say thanks to every1 on Chicago's page for sharing their opinions and knowledge about developments, etc. as its helped me over the years to decide and begin reaching my goals. You guys have really helped me focus on TOD, projects' density, how to fight nimbys in a positive way, storefront retail. etc. and overall what makes a good development.

Since I was a kid I wanted to be an architect and I left high school with the intention of getting an architecture degree at Siu-c. I basically spent my first 1.5 years there as a premajor, then basically through this website I learned a developer arguably can have a much greater impact on architecture than the architect himself. (and im not artistic/tedious enough for it neway) So now Im a jr n my major is finance specializing in real estate with a double minor in management and accounting.

As I'm finishing my undergrad I'm really starting to search for networking and job opportunities like shadowing, internships, etc. I am going to probably start trying to network by volunteering with CAF (chicago arch. foundation). Then I would LOVE to get an MRED for grad school and Im just starting to learn about that program. If anybody has any info on that it'd be much appreciated. Also I'd like to begin to build my capital and rep by starting at a major development company in Chicago. I was wondering if I could get some SSP'ers opinion on what they think are some of the best and most promising development companies in/around Chicago.

I'd love to start a thread for this but being new not really sure how to do much. I'm just a college kid hoping to gain some more knowledge so I can hopefully some day have an impact on development in the greatest city in the world. Someday I hope I can listen to ur guys demands (And get rid of those DAMN surface lots, n keep as many old buildings standing as possible)

aic4ever Dec 9, 2010 4:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5084766)
Good, be careful using too much debt to renovate properties. Do as much of the labor as you can by yourself on your first properties. Spend the money you save on better finishes, it will pay off.

I graduated from Loyola University Chicago. Don't go there unless you can get a lot of scholarship. I had about 2/3 scholarship and still ended up with $40k in debt. How old are you now? You should look at schools in an around Chicago simply because you will have the best networking opportunities there (business school is more about networking than learning). Look at UIC (virtually free for Illinois residents) and IIT (can be pricey). See if you can get scholarships at Loyola and DePaul, but don't got there unless you do. Another excellent alternative is to look at University of Wisconsin - Madison. The only problem is that their business program is extremely hard to get into. Same goes for University of Illinois...

Going to school in NYC will be expensive, but have slightly better networking opportunities than Chicago. Then again, Chicago is a much more affordable market to start in.

Again, the entire time you are in school you should be thinking "are you going to be a useful contact in the future" every time you meet someone. This includes professors, family friends, friends, and random people at parties. When you meet someone who impresses you, befriend them and it will pay dividends.

IIT was a great engineering background for me...got my undergrad in Architectural Engineering (basically Civil/Structural) and my masters there in Const. Mgmt...As far as CM, they are a bit lacking in practical applications of what they teach. Very strong on theory, but by the time I finished my masters, taken part time while working, I felt like I was teaching my profs more about the practical side of the business of construction than what they were teaching me. I felt this was a good thing, though. Meaning that I did the right thing by working before starting the masters program. Most of what I was taught would have been useless to me had I gone straight through and then started working as it would have been very difficult to recognize how to practically apply some of the advanced stuff being taught.

The engineering side of things was fantastic all around, but tough sledding though. I knew a LOT of pretty smart people that couldn't hack it there so if you're wavering on your work ethic, IIT is not the place for you. If you have what it takes, though, it's definitely worth the $20K+ a year it's running now. Preferably you'd get scholarships and grants to cover a bunch of that.

ChiTownCity Dec 9, 2010 4:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by siunate2324 (Post 5085601)
Chitowncity, you have finally prompted me to get an account on SSP...I've been lurking these forums daily since about 2004 when I was about 14, but never registered since I really have no pertinent info to share. For years I've learned alot about development and real estate on this website listening to the guys like SpyGuy, Bvic, Tup, etc. and I have to say thanks to every1 on Chicago's page for sharing their opinions and knowledge about developments, etc. as its helped me over the years to decide and begin reaching my goals. You guys have really helped me focus on TOD, projects' density, how to fight nimbys in a positive way, storefront retail. etc. and overall what makes a good development.

Since I was a kid I wanted to be an architect and I left high school with the intention of getting an architecture degree at Siu-c. I basically spent my first 1.5 years there as a premajor, then basically through this website I learned a developer arguably can have a much greater impact on architecture than the architect himself. (and im not artistic/tedious enough for it neway) So now Im a jr n my major is finance specializing in real estate with a double minor in management and accounting.

As I'm finishing my undergrad I'm really starting to search for networking and job opportunities like shadowing, internships, etc. I am going to probably start trying to network by volunteering with CAF (chicago arch. foundation). Then I would LOVE to get an MRED for grad school and Im just starting to learn about that program. If anybody has any info on that it'd be much appreciated. Also I'd like to begin to build my capital and rep by starting at a major development company in Chicago. I was wondering if I could get some SSP'ers opinion on what they think are some of the best and most promising development companies in/around Chicago.

I'd love to start a thread for this but being new not really sure how to do much. I'm just a college kid hoping to gain some more knowledge so I can hopefully some day have an impact on development in the greatest city in the world. Someday I hope I can listen to ur guys demands (And get rid of those DAMN surface lots, n keep as many old buildings standing as possible)

Well I'm glad I motivated you lol :)

Nowhereman, would you mind if I send you a PM if i have any future questions? (and that goes to everyone else willing to help as well)...

Nowhereman1280 Dec 10, 2010 1:13 AM

^^^ Sure, feel free to. If they are questions that aren't personal or private, you should ask them in this thread though so everyone can learn from the discussion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by aic4ever (Post 5086755)
The engineering side of things was fantastic all around, but tough sledding though. I knew a LOT of pretty smart people that couldn't hack it there so if you're wavering on your work ethic, IIT is not the place for you.

If you are wavering on your work ethic than real estate development is not the place for you. Actually, the whole industry is like that. If you don't work hard, you won't make it in real estate.

ChiTownCity Dec 12, 2010 5:01 AM

Getting a Real Estate Broker License doesn't require a degree just being 21 years old and the 75 hours pre-license courses. A real estate broker basically sells real estate that's owned by other people correct? This is a job that doesn't need any prior experience that I can do temporarily while in school? This is similar or different to a Leasing Consultant?

I really don't want to get side-tracked.

Would: getting an Associates Degree in Business Administration 1st

Then, a Bachelors of Science degree in business financing and/or management or something secondary

And after that, Just take a few courses in Urban Design as a Minor (or would that be a whole other degree in its self?)...

Be a good route?

Since I have multiple places to live I was planning on using as much of my income as possible for the 1st 2-3 years after I graduate to get rid of my student loans. I'm estimating I would need to make atleast somewhere in the ball park of $40k a year to knock out the vast majority pending on where I decide to attend (hopefully I would be able to get a scholarship). I was thinking after I graduate I can by 1-2 lots and/or get one property to rent out to start.

Jasoncw Dec 12, 2010 5:31 AM

Good luck everyone! The world needs more Herb Greenwalds. :)

Amanita Dec 12, 2010 6:51 AM

I've contemplated development as a career- this is a long term thing, but I eventually would like to have my own skyscraper:)

Only thing is, I'm not the kind of person you think of when you think corporate or business type. I am so NOT the suit-wearing, buttoned down type. Unfortunately being (and looking the part of a non-conformist) doesn't always go down well in the business world:(

hammersklavier Dec 12, 2010 7:34 AM

I'm working on creating a startup that I can leverage into development...needless to say, I'm thinking big. :)

tayser Dec 12, 2010 10:40 AM

^ join the club. MINES BIGGER THAN YOURS :crazy: :D

Amanita Dec 12, 2010 6:56 PM

So is there any place in the development world for an oddball like me? Can I play the game without having to wear suits and pretending to be something I'm not? Learning Urban studies and business is one thing, completely hiding and suppressing myself is a whole other- something I've never been able to do.

No, I'm not some wild and raging freak, but I would hate to have to never be seen at a public Pagan event or sci-fi convention again, or wear clothes I really like in public again (see my pic in the skybar thread on nightclub entrance rules) lest those be held against me.

ChiTownCity Dec 13, 2010 12:51 AM

^lol well I think I look pretty darn good in a suit. I don't think your attire will matter much outside of when you're presenting yourself to a potential buyer or investor...

Nowhereman1280 Dec 13, 2010 2:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChiTownCity (Post 5089842)
Getting a Real Estate Broker License doesn't require a degree just being 21 years old and the 75 hours pre-license courses. A real estate broker basically sells real estate that's owned by other people correct? This is a job that doesn't need any prior experience that I can do temporarily while in school? This is similar or different to a Leasing Consultant?

Essentially. You need to do 120 hours of courses for Broker. Don't waste your time with the 75 hour Salesperson course. You may want to take the courses in person, but I did it all online in about two months. Granted it might take you longer since I had quite a bit of experience (2 years doing closings) in real estate before I did it. Another thing about doing it in person is that you get to network with the others in your class which can be useful.

Quote:

I really don't want to get side-tracked.

Would: getting an Associates Degree in Business Administration 1st

Then, a Bachelors of Science degree in business financing and/or management or something secondary

And after that, Just take a few courses in Urban Design as a Minor (or would that be a whole other degree in its self?)...

Be a good route?
If your credits towards Associates Degree in Business can be transferred towards your core coursework in a Bachelors program in finance program I would transfer to the Bachelors as soon as possible, it will be the fastest route to getting the basic financial grounding you need.

Also, if you spend enough time on here, you don't need to know shit about urban studies because this site will school you better than any course can on urban studies. I would focus very heavily on finance and any real estate economics or finance courses they offer.

PS you said your GPA is a 2.8 or so. That is what I had in High School and I got into Loyola and ended up with like a 3.8 by the time I was done with Loyola. I also got a good deal of financial aid and scholarships, so at least give applying there a try.

Quote:

Since I have multiple places to live I was planning on using as much of my income as possible for the 1st 2-3 years after I graduate to get rid of my student loans. I'm estimating I would need to make atleast somewhere in the ball park of $40k a year to knock out the vast majority pending on where I decide to attend (hopefully I would be able to get a scholarship). I was thinking after I graduate I can by 1-2 lots and/or get one property to rent out to start.
Don't start with new construction, its much more capital intensive and risky. Start doing rehabs of single family homes and two flats. You don't need to worry about your student loan debt if you can hold down a job at $40k a year. You should be able to maintain about $180k in total debt on a $40k salary. That should be enough to allow you to get your first property (use an FHA loan and live in the property while you renovate it).

Don't get a job as a residential realtor, just start working as soon as you can in real estate law, for a developer, for a REIT, for a consultant, for anyone you can find who will give you work that involves the mechanics of real estate.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Amanita (Post 5090201)
So is there any place in the development world for an oddball like me? Can I play the game without having to wear suits and pretending to be something I'm not? Learning Urban studies and business is one thing, completely hiding and suppressing myself is a whole other- something I've never been able to do.

No, I'm not some wild and raging freak, but I would hate to have to never be seen at a public Pagan event or sci-fi convention again, or wear clothes I really like in public again (see my pic in the skybar thread on nightclub entrance rules) lest those be held against me.

Yes there is room for the most eclectic people in Real Estate. Just don't display that side of yourself when you are trying to network. In other words, as long as you don't mix your personal and work lives until you have more money than you know what to do with, then you'll be fine. Once you make an assload you can do whatever you want and no one can tell you not to.

ChiTownCity Dec 16, 2010 2:57 AM

^Thanks! I already know I'll be back with more questions in the future so bare with me...

Copes Dec 22, 2010 5:25 AM

Hey this thread is a great help, I've actually been looking for something like this since I joined the forum. I saw another poster say something that is exactly similar to me. When people ask me what I plan to do when I finish school, my answer is always "build a skyscraper." Then I'll become Prime Minister. I don't want my goals to be too unreasonable. ;)

I've got a few questions for anyone willing to answer them. I'm not looking to start with my own developments, I'd love to come out of school and start working for an already established company to gain some experience in the industry. The school I attend has a general Bachelor of Business Administration Program, and no electives focus too much on real estate. Would finance and investment likely be the way to go in terms of choosing my electives? What other general business courses might be useful? Also, in regards to working for some already established companies, what sort of experience would be recommended? What are some entry level jobs? Are there even any entry level jobs?

Thanks a lot, and to anyone else willing to share their stories regarding how they got into the business, I'd be very interested in hearing about it.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 23, 2010 3:35 AM

^^^ Finance is extremely useful in development. Accounting also is helpful, but it seems to me most developer types despise it and like to relegate the function to designated accounting lackeys (called "Accountants"). However, knowing your away around accounting law certainly can be useful.

As far as work goes, I would recommend taking any job you can get that pertains to real estate. I worked for two years while I was in college at a real estate lawyer and I learned a ton. In this market get an internship or job or whatever, money doesn't matter, the experience is what is important.

Read all my previous posts in this thread, I'm sure they will be useful...

Copes Dec 23, 2010 5:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5102814)
^^^ Finance is extremely useful in development. Accounting also is helpful, but it seems to me most developer types despise it and like to relegate the function to designated accounting lackeys (called "Accountants"). However, knowing your away around accounting law certainly can be useful.

As far as work goes, I would recommend taking any job you can get that pertains to real estate. I worked for two years while I was in college at a real estate lawyer and I learned a ton. In this market get an internship or job or whatever, money doesn't matter, the experience is what is important.

Read all my previous posts in this thread, I'm sure they will be useful...

They were, and thanks for the reply. I'll be keeping my eye on this thread over the coming year or so as I finish my degree. Every tip is a useful one.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 23, 2010 5:52 PM

Any questions, just ask! I'm no pro yet, but I'll share my experiences and what I learn as I get deeper into the profession.

Copes Dec 23, 2010 6:15 PM

Any tips on approaching prospective employers who have no type of job postings indicating available positions? Especially if you have minimal experience in the field. While I've held some impressive jobs / internships, none have anything to do with real estate. I'm going to be hitting up most of the developers in my city come January, but none of them are actively looking to hire student as far as I can tell.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 24, 2010 3:55 PM

^^^ Just find out if they have any sort of HR (though they probably won't) and contact the HR person with a letter or phone call and find out if they have any positions. If they don't, simply offer to work for free since you are a student. Make sure you have a well-crafted letter explaining all of this and the fact that you have a passion for Real Estate, etc.

If there is no HR department, go straight to the top and try to get in contact with whoever the owner/head hauncho at the company is. You can do this in a number of ways, first search them on Google and see if you can get their contact info. If you can't try calling and asking for them (likely won't work, secretary usually intercepts you). The best trick is just finding the email for someone else at the company and then figuring out the naming protocol for their email. By this I mean if you see John Smith has an email of jsmith@ABCdeveloper.com, then you know the CEO, David Johnson, probably has an email address of djohnson@ABCdeveloper.com. I've actually used this trick before and have gotten direct responses from some pretty high up people as a result. They are often impressed that you were clever enough to use this simple trick to get in contact with them.

From there its simple, just tell them that you'd really like to work for them and will even do it for free. If they let you come do some work for free, work your ass off to prove your value and they'll often move you to a paid position after a while.

ChiTownCity Jan 4, 2011 4:54 AM

okay so I'm one credit short from being able to transfer which doesn't really matter since I plan on leaving for the fall semester.

I'm looking at taking a quick course between Intro to modern business & business law and environment. Which would be a better choice?

Nowhereman1280 Jan 5, 2011 12:44 AM

Well it depends on what intro to modern business covers. It could be a lot of fluff. Personally business Law was the all around most useful course I took in school, but I don't know how similar business law and the environment will be to it.

ChiTownCity Jan 15, 2011 5:37 AM

Okay I got a few more questions open to anyone that has an answer:

1.) What are some other names/terms that Developers go by because usually
when I mention that I want to be an urban developer to my professor's or
the average joe none of them seem to have a clue on what I'm talking
about or think I'm trying to become an urban planner. And just googling
urban developer doesn't get me much results.

2.) What's the average age group, if you had to make a guess, that the
average developer is?

3.) How long does the average developer's career last if you had to make a
guess?

4.) Do you have any good recommendations on books that discusses
development?

5.) On average do developers work for a company or do they create their
own?

SLO Jan 15, 2011 4:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChiTownCity (Post 5126842)
Okay I got a few more questions open to anyone that has an answer:

1.) What are some other names/terms that Developers go by because usually
when I mention that I want to be an urban developer to my professor's or
the average joe none of them seem to have a clue on what I'm talking
about or think I'm trying to become an urban planner. And just googling
urban developer doesn't get me much results.
THE BEST WAY IS TO FIND DEVELOPMENTS YOU LIKE, AND FIGURE OUT WHO BUILT/DEVELOPED THEM. THEY WILL COME IN ALL DIFFERENT NAMES, NONE OF WHICH BEING "URBAN DEVELOPER", ALTHOUGH THERE IS ONE CALLED THE URBAN COMPANY. THE NAMES WILL VARY GREATLY. I DID THE SAME THING PRE-COLLEGE, IN THE TOWN I LIVED.

2.) What's the average age group, if you had to make a guess, that the
average developer is?
DEVELPING TAKES LOTS OF CAPITAL AND CREDIT, SO MOST BIG DEVELOPERS ARE GOING TO BE 40+. A YOUNG PERSON NEEDS TO GAIN EXPERIENCE FIRST.

3.) How long does the average developer's career last if you had to make a
guess?
THERE WOULD BE NO AVERAGE, SOME WILL BE SUCCESSFUL AND DO IT UNTIL THEY RETIRE, OR NEVER RETIRE. SOME WILL TRY TO DEVELOP A SMALL PROJECT, HOUSE OR SUCH, FAIL MISERABLY, GO BANKRUPT, THEN GO WORK FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

4.) Do you have any good recommendations on books that discusses
development?
THE NAHB BOOKSTORE "BUILDER BOOKS" WILL HAVE SOME.

5.) On average do developers work for a company or do they create their
own?
THE ANSWER IS BOTH, BUT IT TAKES LOTS OF MONEY. YOU'LL NOTICE THAT LOTS OF DEVELOPERS MADE MONEY DOING SOMETHING ELSE.....

IVE DONE SOME DEVELOPING & LOTS OF HOUSES, I'LL CHECK THIS THREAD AND TRY TO HELP IF I CAN AS WELL. JUST SOAK UP EVERYTHING YOU CAN, GET PART TIME JOBS IN THE INDUSTRY WHILE IN SCHOOL.

Nowhereman1280 Jan 15, 2011 4:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChiTownCity (Post 5126842)
1.) What are some other names/terms that Developers go by because usually
when I mention that I want to be an urban developer to my professor's or
the average joe none of them seem to have a clue on what I'm talking
about or think I'm trying to become an urban planner. And just googling
urban developer doesn't get me much results.

The trade is really just called development and it encompasses not just urban areas. I mean developers are also the people building tract housing in the exurbs. A lot of developers just call themselves "consultants" because they don't do full blown development with their own money. There are tons of people who just act as "consultants" to some company or person who needs someone to act as developer and manage a series of new construction projects. My current job is similar to that.

Quote:

2.) What's the average age group, if you had to make a guess, that the average developer is?
Its completely random to be honest. Yes it takes a lot of money, but some get there very young. My ex girlfriends brothers bought their first house at 20 and were full blown developers (working on projects as large at 4000 acres and tall as 18 stories) by the time they were 25.

I'm just getting started on my first three flat and I'm only in my early 20's, but most people don't get into the game until they are older and have made stacks of cash doing something else in real estate.

Quote:

3.) How long does the average developer's career last if you had to make a guess?
If you exclude those who fail that SLO mentioned, I've noticed that successful developers tend to keep working their entire lives. They are generally the kind of people who enjoy working and would go stir crazy if they had no work to do so they usually keep working in their company even if they "retire". My uncle is a good example of this. He's 75 and still works probably 20 hours a week at his development company that he handed off to his son 15 years ago.

Quote:

4.) Do you have any good recommendations on books that discusses development?
Development is not really something you can learn in a book. Its something you have to learn from first hand experience and interacting with those who have done it themselves.

Quote:

5.) On average do developers work for a company or do they create their own?
I wouldn't really call someone who works for another developer a developer. I'd say they work for a developer. However, the majority of people who become developers themselves get their start either working for another developer or in some other branch of real estate.

SLO Jan 15, 2011 5:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5127116)

If you exclude those who fail that SLO mentioned, I've noticed that successful developers tend to keep working their entire lives. They are generally the kind of people who enjoy working and would go stir crazy if they had no work to do so they usually keep working in their company even if they "retire". My uncle is a good example of this. He's 75 and still works probably 20 hours a week at his development company that he handed off to his son 15 years ago.

I agree with most of what you said. It really is a mixed bag and is based on the effort & talent of the individual. And cash is a great partner.

What you said above is really true, I stopped short of saying that many do it until the very end. It can be a life long passion.

ChiTownCity Jan 20, 2011 7:34 PM

Okay Intro to Modern Business seems like a load of crap that I don't need right now and business law won't transfer so I dropped both courses. I'm replacing them with Financial and Managerial Accounting and considering Macroeconomic Principles which will all transfer.

Looking at UIC, they want certain business courses (listed above) in order for me to transfer over into their business department, but I'm still undecided on where I would like to attend.

I still really do want to go to NY (part of the reason why I haven't applied for any internships or jobs at any real estate firms yet) but as you said Nowhereman, that wouldn't be a good idea. I'm not sure how I would do as a developer so I would like to have a plan B where I'm still able to work somewhere in the urban field. I currently have a few connections that I haven't been in contact with lately but know that they are willing to help me out as soon as I'm ready so that's part of the reason why I'm still considering NY.

The Student Counselor at my school keeps on recommending me to get my associates degree here then transfer over to where ever I'm headed, but I'm trying to get out of here asap, already took gen. ed. courses, and not sure if there is anything else I would like to do with a business degree in financing and/or management...:(

I do know that I will major in business and hope that I do good in it. I know that I have some strong connections that will really benefit me here. An architect that owns his own firm (don't know how well they are doing), 2 General Contractors, 2 architectural engineers, and I just recently (yesterday actually) came into contact with this guy that owns his own carpenter's ?firm? or team or something, so I would say my connections should point me in the right direction, but how a lot of them describe developers and the people that loan the money, it doesn't really sound like I would fit the characteristics or be able to be persuasive enough (i'm hoping to learn that behavior through experience). Plus I keep hearing that there is a very small amount of black people in the whole urban field so I don't know how much that will effect me.

I guess basically what I'm asking is:

1.) Should I without a doubt stay in IL for school or would I still be in good
standing If I were to go to NY?

2.) What kind of personality would I need to adopt when trying to get the
proper funding and support for my first building and other projects in the
future? (I'm sure a bunch of 40+ year-olds wouldn't be too quick to work
for someone or lend to a kid half their age)

3.) You said that you bought your 1st property for $150k, correct? Did you
actually purchase it fully, are you paying for it in installments, or did you
buy it with a loan?

4.) Once you get it presentable and ready for it to be put back into the
market, how exactly does that process work? Does a Realtor purchase
the property at the estimated value negotiated from you and then put it
in the market with a higher price for their profit? I know I'm beyond
clueless...

ChiTownCity Jan 27, 2011 5:56 PM

hmmm.... anytime now......

ChiTownCity Feb 10, 2011 7:32 PM

I really just need some kind of response for the 1st question so I can start applying at different schools...

Nowhereman1280 Feb 11, 2011 9:00 PM

Hey sorry I've been absent from this thread. I've been real busy lately and will answer more in depth questions later.

I would definitely stay in Chicago because its a better place to get started in real estate. We've got fewer laws to deal with, lower prices, and a less centralized real estate industry (its an exclusive club in NYC). Additionally going to school and living in Chicago is cheaper which will put you in a better financial standing coming out of school.

Remember, always be aggressive, even when applying to schools. Don't be afraid to try applying places you think you might not get in to.

ChiTownCity Feb 16, 2011 3:21 AM

Seeing those census numbers kinda discouraged me a little just now... I hope the initial shock doesn't impact my decision...

ChiTownCity Mar 3, 2011 4:28 AM

^Thanks for the input and link ;

ChiTownCity Mar 20, 2011 12:50 AM

Is a Project Development Manager and a Real Estate Developer any different? If so, what are their differences?

Also is it possible to be a commercial and a resedential developer at the same time?


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