Over 30 years ago, while studying for my undergraduate degree in real estate, everyone asked – why I needed a university degree for a real estate career? Most people assumed being in real estate was being an estate agent selling houses. However, that degree opened up the world, and I am an MAI Appraiser / Chartered Valuation Surveyor by practice and I have had a great career living and working around the USA, Fiji, Australia, the UK, and now in Dubai. In addition, that degree gave me opportunities for valuation consulting assignments in over a dozen countries, including exotic locales from Alaska to Bora Bora.
However, the stereotype that real estate is ‘selling houses’ is one of the highest hurdles I face when talking with secondary students and their parents about the many other exciting real estate careers.
Look around – real estate is everywhere and is often one of the largest sectors of any economy. We use real estate for shelter, education, work, shopping, and leisure. However, before structures are built, someone has to do market analysis, feasibility study, while others decide to invest and acquire the property. These are market analysts, investment analysts, financiers, valuers, developers, and development managers.
During the development phase, the development manager hires and oversees architects, engineers, project managers, and construction managers to ensure the property meets the requirements. For larger projects, the investment and market analysts are often still involved to reflect changes in market conditions. Once built, someone has to manage the property, market the property, work with tenants, manage the facilities management, and ultimately maximise the value of the property for the owner.
Although these services are often outsourced to real estate advisory firms, some of the largest employers of real estate professionals are corporations and the government. Unlike sales, these other real estate career options require university degrees, including business analytics, economics, investment analysis, geography, finance, and management, such as our undergraduate and graduate real estate degrees at Heriot-Watt University.