How To Get Promoted (Fast) in Commercial Real Estate

Landing a job in commercial real estate is the first step towards building a career in the industry, but what you do after you land that job is going to have a lot to do with how quickly you progress (and what your next job might look like).

This is especially true as things like AI tools become more powerful, and you need to find ways to add value within analytical positions beyond just adding manual inputs into a pre-built financial model.

So if you’ve already landed a job and want to make sure you’re doing the right things to progress as quickly as possible, this article covers three things you can do to become a better real estate analyst, and be the first one to get promoted during good times and the last to get laid off when times get tough.

If video is more your thing, you can watch the video version of this article here:

Provide Feedback and Commentary

The first point I want to bring up in this article is much less commonly done in practice than you might think, and this is to provide feedback and commentary on your work to your manager, in addition to just coming up with valuations or calculating returns.

An analyst title implies that you’ll be doing analytical work, but a lot of young real estate professionals spend the majority of their days just transporting raw data into a pre-built acquisition or development model and not doing much more.

And with that, even if you just provide a 3-4 bullet point summary in each of the emails you send describing your analysis in more detail, doing this can be a huge help to your managers and can put you in the top tier of analysts across your entire firm.

In acquisitions or asset management positions, this could just involve looking through the property’s rent roll in detail to find outliers or patterns among the tenant base, reviewing the property’s financials in detail to spot things like revenue or occupancy trends over time, or even just pointing out changes in year-over-year property tax assessments that might end up affecting the property’s NOI.

In investment sales roles, this could also involve things like digging into market rent comps to identify below-market leases, reviewing commercial lease clauses to identify terms that aren’t currently being enforced by the seller, or even coming up with opportunities to add ancillary income at a property through implementing things like storage or parking fees.

This also means getting ahead of frequently asked questions from your manager and proactively addressing these things in your initial email alongside your first draft of a model, which requires you to learn the types of things your boss is looking for over time, and then do the work necessary to address these things up-front.

As an analyst, your job is to analyze the information being provided, and that means more than just adding raw data into a template. And if you can start to think like an investor, client, or lender when working on deals, this is where you can really prove your value as a member of a team.

Answer Your Own Questions

The next thing I’d recommend to take this a step further is to do the work necessary to answer your own questions whenever possible, and go directly to the source as often as you can.

Sending off a list of questions and concerns alongside your completed work is definitely better than adding no commentary at all, but these questions also usually require multiple emails or phone calls to answer, essentially just adding to your manager’s to-do list (which is likely already pretty long).

In most cases, the vast majority of these questions can be answered by an analyst directly by taking the time to make a few phone calls or send a few emails themselves. And by doing this, instead of presenting your manager with a laundry list of questions they need to find the answers to, you can focus on presenting your solutions and showcasing your work.

A lot of young professionals fear stepping on people’s toes, or think it’s not their place to communicate with brokers or third parties. However, unless this is an internal rule that’s explicitly been communicated to you, going the extra step will almost always be appreciated.

As people move up the ranks in their thirties and forties, their list of responsibilities also tends to grow very quickly, usually alongside family obligations at home. And with that, if you’re able to take work off your manager’s plate proactively, this can raise your value significantly within your company.

Even if you don’t want to call up the rainmaker broker that’s listing the deal with something like a minor question on financials, there’s almost always going to be someone at your level who you can talk to directly. In most cases, this would just require reaching out to another analyst or associate on the broker’s team, who’s likely going to be even more well-equipped to cover technical questions and get you the answer you need.

Proactively taking the extra step to get your own questions answered also has the added benefit of showing that you can do things yourself, which is a key part of progressing within any company. And when the time comes to ask for a promotion, you can point to all the tasks you’re already taking on, to prove your ability to move up to the next level of responsibility.

In many cases, speed is the name of the game in commercial real estate, whether that’s speed in getting an offer out to a seller, speed in getting an opinion of value back to a potential client, or speed in getting a quote out to a potential borrower. And because of this, the more you can cut down on unnecessary back-and-forth communication that allows your team to get work product out faster, the more valuable you’re going to be within your organization.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Directly related to the concept of speed, the last thing I want to cover is more of an internal hack for your own productivity (and your own well-being), and this is to automate repetitive tasks as much as possible.

Even with the speed of technological innovation today, analysts still need to do a lot of manual work in Excel on a day-to-day basis. And the more you can automate this work, the more this is going to free you up to do higher-level activities like digging deeper into your analyses, making connections with property owners, brokers, and lenders, or even getting out of the office to tour deals directly.

If you can build formulas or templates in Excel that can easily clean up data, or even populate information directly from a rent roll or T-12 into your company’s models automatically, the hours you can save on a daily or weekly basis start to add up quickly.

Automation tools can also help with time-consuming tasks, like writing emails with a software like TextExpander, allowing you to quickly type commonly used phrases (or even entire email templates) that you find yourself writing over and over again. And if your company has the budget, you can even start to implement software like RedIQ into your workflow, that can quickly sort complex rent rolls or historical financials into clean, easy-to-manipulate Excel documents.

Especially in situations where you’re already working long hours, workflow automations like these can be absolute game-changers. Even if you can just get back 2-5 hours per week, this still gives you a lot more capacity to put out better work product and also do things like work out, sleep more, or just generally burn out less quickly in very demanding roles.

How To Break Into Commercial Real Estate

If you’re still in the process of trying to break into commercial real estate and you want to make sure you have the technical skills you’ll need to pass an Excel exam that might be given to you during the interview process, as always, make sure to check out our all-in-one membership training platform, Break Into CRE Academy.

A membership to the Academy will give you instant access to over 120 hours of video training on real estate financial modeling and analysis, you’ll get access to hundreds of practice Excel interview exam questions, sample acquisition case studies, and you’ll also get access to the Break Into CRE Analyst Certification Exam. This exam covers topics like real estate pro forma and development modeling, commercial real estate lease modeling, equity waterfall modeling, and many other real estate financial analysis concepts that will help you prove to employers that you have what it takes to tackle the responsibilities of an analyst or associate at a top real estate firm.

As always, thanks so much for reading, and make sure to check out the Break Into CRE YouTube channel for more content that can help you take the next step in your real estate career.

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