How To Succeed as a Real Estate Analyst [4 Steps]

Landing a job in commercial real estate isn’t easy, but once you actually do land that job, the real work begins.

And to stand out in a commercial real estate analyst or associate role, there are a few key things that the highest performers in the industry do, that set them (far) apart from their industry peers.

So if you’ve just landed a new position and want to make sure you’re getting started on the right foot, this article walks through four things you can do to excel in a real estate analyst or associate role, and how to accelerate your career growth as quickly as possible.

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

Pay [Extreme] Attention To Detail

Even at the analyst level, the quality of your deliverables can have a significant impact on the firm’s ability to raise capital and win new business, and even just small errors related to spelling or grammar can end up being a really big deal in these kinds of roles.

This is especially true when you’re working at firms with assets under management in the billions of dollars, or when working on deals on behalf of major institutions as a third-party intermediary. Errors like these look sloppy to potential clients and investors, and if these are missed before they’re sent outside of the firm, this ends up reflecting very poorly on your manager and your company as a whole.

This is even more important on the numbers side of things, since a simple calculation error can significantly alter cash flow projections on a deal. And while errors are expected to happen when you’re just getting started in the industry, there’s also an expectation that you’ll take the time necessary to double-check your work.

In almost all cases, there’s going to be a level of oversight in any analyst or associate position, but your managers are ultimately hiring you to take over the analytics so they can focus on business development, acquisitions, loan originations, or other revenue generating activities.

The less your managers feel like they constantly need to review your work, and the more having you on the team lets them get out of the weeds of programs like Excel, Argus, or PowerPoint, the more likely you are to progress quickly within your company.

Submit Work On Time [No Matter What]

Point number two on this list is very similar to the first point, and this is to be reliable and make sure things get done on time, regardless of external circumstances.

The goal is to develop a reputation as the person in the office who your managers can rely on to make things happen (no matter what), and someone who understands the importance of timing in every project you take on.

This characteristic can be a really big differentiator in established organizations within larger teams, where producers and senior managers often have a pool of analysts to choose from on any project they’re working on. And to make sure you’re landing the best assignments on the biggest deals with the most high-profile clients, your company needs to trust you to hit deadlines every single time.

In my experience, I’ve found that young professionals tend to significantly undervalue the concept of reliability, and this is especially true for people fresh out of college. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with work, say yes to too many things, or let other pressing projects get in the way of a deadline, but if you can do what you say you’ll do on time, every time, this can do a lot to set you apart from other analysts.

Contribute Proactively

The third point on this list is probably the most important if your goal is to progress internally within the organization as quickly as possible, and this is to contribute proactively (rather than reactively), and find ways to add value outside of your job description.

This is especially relevant for recent college graduates that have spent decades doing exactly what they’ve been told to do, and in most cases, just enough to meet the basic requirements of a project.

However, in the private equity and institutional investment management world, doing “just enough” is going to lead to you being passed up when promotion opportunities arise, and will also give you some pretty weak bullet points on your resume. In a new role, take the extra time to start thinking about what you can do to go above and beyond what’s being asked of you to help the team succeed, and then take the initiative to make those things happen.

If you see a way that a certain manual process could be automated in Excel, if you’re well-versed in a software program that could help the team work more efficiently, or if you can take the time to run an additional layer of analysis to proactively help strengthen a pitch, these are all ways for you to tangibly add value at the analyst or associate level.

Try to treat your work output just as you would if the company was your own, and when you do this, you’ll stand out from your peers as a result of those actions.

Be Proactive About Your Career Growth

The last point on this list is probably the most important if you want to progress outside of the organization, and this is to be proactive about your next career step and track your successes.

This means that, if you’re starting out in an asset management role but know you want to transition into acquisitions, try to find ways to get involved with and contribute to the acquisitions process, in addition to your main responsibilities.

You’ll also want to track your quantifiable outputs and successes each position you take on, whether that’s the total transaction volume you worked on, year-over-year revenue growth of specific properties you were responsible for, or even just an internal process that you made more efficient.

If you’re committing to spending several years in a job, especially if that job is only a means to an end, you’ll want to make sure you leave that position with something to show for your time. Tracking your results is a great way to make that happen, and by the time you leave any role, you need to be able to pinpoint the specific things you were responsible for and your quantifiable contribution to the team.

How To Build The Skills You’ll Need To Break Into CRE

If you’re trying to figure out where you want to head next in the real estate industry, or you just want to make sure you have the technical skill sets you’ll need to be successful in an analyst or associate role, 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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