How to Get into Commercial Real Estate: A Beginner’s Guide

Author Cheddar Tunney Read bio
Tags: commercial real estate
Date: July 2, 2024

Are you thinking about getting into commercial real estate?

Whether you’re drawn by the potential for lucrative deals or the dynamic nature of the industry, getting started can feel daunting. 

I’ve seen firsthand the amazing opportunities that await those who are prepared to dive in and make their mark. This guide will provide you with the foundational knowledge and actionable steps needed to start your journey into commercial real estate, even if you have no experience.

First, You Need to Understand Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate includes properties used for business purposes such as office buildings, industrial facilities, retail spaces, and multifamily housing units. Each type offers unique opportunities and challenges, making this a dynamic and exciting field.

Definition and Types of Commercial Real Estate

  • Office: These are spaces used for business operations, ranging from single-tenant buildings to skyscrapers filled with multiple offices. The demand for office space can vary greatly depending on the market and economic conditions.
  • Industrial: Industrial real estate includes warehouses, factories, and distribution centers. With the rise of e-commerce, industrial spaces have become increasingly vital for storage and logistics.
  • Retail: This category encompasses spaces where goods and services are sold, such as shopping malls, strip centers, and standalone stores. Retail real estate is closely tied to consumer behavior and economic trends.
  • Multifamily: Multifamily properties are residential buildings with multiple units, like apartment complexes. These investments can provide steady income through rental payments and are often seen as a more stable real estate investment.

Why Commercial Real Estate is a Lucrative Career Choice

Commercial real estate is not just about properties; it’s about potential. This industry offers a lot of opportunities for those willing to put in the work. Here’s why it’s such a compelling career path:

  • High Earning Potential: Commercial real estate transactions typically involve higher values than residential deals, leading to potentially larger commissions and profits.
  • Diverse Opportunities: With various types of properties and investment strategies, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re interested in sales, leasing, property management, or development.
  • Market Influence: As a commercial real estate professional, you play a significant role in shaping communities and economic landscapes. Your work can drive growth and innovation in various sectors.
  • Networking and Relationships: Success in this field is built on strong relationships and networks. You’ll have the chance to connect with influential figures in business and finance, broadening your professional horizons.

Explore our selection of the Best Commercial Real Estate Books and gain the expertise you need to excel.

Hot to Get into Commercial Real Estate: First Steps

Research the Industry

Understand the different types of commercial properties and how they perform in various economic conditions. Identify key players and major firms in the industry to set career goals and find potential mentors or employers.

Obtain Relevant Education and Certifications

Education can provide a strong foundation for your career in commercial real estate. Consider the following:

  • Obtaining a License (DRE License): To legally practice commercial real estate, you typically need a real estate license. In many states, this means obtaining a Department of Real Estate (DRE) license. The process usually involves completing pre-licensing courses, passing a state exam, and meeting ongoing continuing education requirements. This license is essential for conducting transactions and representing clients in commercial real estate deals.
  • Degree Programs and Courses: Many universities offer degree programs in real estate, business, or finance, which can give you a comprehensive understanding of the industry. Look for courses that cover real estate law, property management, and market analysis.
  • Certifications: Earning certifications can set you apart from the competition. Consider pursuing designations like CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member), CPM (Certified Property Manager), or RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). These certifications demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field.

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Build a Strong Network

Networking is crucial in commercial real estate. The relationships you build can lead to job opportunities, partnerships, and valuable advice.

  • Importance of Networking: Success in this industry often depends on who you know. Attend industry conferences, join professional associations, and participate in local real estate groups to expand your network.
  • How to Connect: Engage with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn, attend networking events, and seek out mentorship opportunities. Joining associations like BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) or NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association) can also provide valuable connections.

Gain Practical Experience

Experience is invaluable when entering commercial real estate. Here’s how to get your foot in the door:

  • Internships and Entry-Level Positions: Start with internships or entry-level roles at real estate firms. These positions offer hands-on experience and a chance to learn from seasoned professionals.
  • Getting Started with No Experience: If you’re wondering how to get into commercial real estate with no experience, consider volunteer opportunities, assistant roles, or seeking out mentorships. Volunteering for real estate events or working as an assistant to a broker can provide valuable insights and experience.

Dive into our list of the Top 10 Commercial Real Estate Podcasts and start tuning in for insights and profits.

Develop Essential Skills

Success in commercial real estate requires a diverse skill set. Focus on developing these key skills:

  • Negotiation: The ability to negotiate deals effectively is crucial. Practice your negotiation skills through real-life scenarios or role-playing exercises.
  • Financial Analysis: Understanding financial statements and investment analysis is vital. Resources like books, online courses, and workshops can help you build these skills.
  • Market Research: Being able to analyze and interpret market data will give you a competitive edge. Stay updated on market trends and use tools to gather and analyze data.

Prepare For A LOT of Cold Calls

Cold calling is an integral part of getting into commercial real estate, especially when you’re starting out. It involves reaching out to potential clients, property owners, and other stakeholders to introduce yourself and your services. While it can be challenging and often met with rejection, cold calling is an effective way to build your network, gain market insights, and identify opportunities. 

Developing a thick skin and honing your communication skills are essential to succeed in this area. We provide scripts and training to help you navigate this crucial aspect of the business. Over time, with persistence and practice, you’ll find that these calls become a valuable tool in establishing your presence and credibility in the commercial real estate industry.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Breaking into the Industry

Getting into the commercial real estate industry can feel like an uphill battle, especially in a competitive market. One of the biggest challenges is standing out among a sea of candidates. 

To distinguish yourself, focus on building a unique personal brand. Highlight your strengths, whether it’s a strong financial background, exceptional negotiation skills, or a deep understanding of local markets. Tailor your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect these qualities and engage actively in industry forums and groups.

If you’re wondering how to get into commercial real estate with no experience, start by seeking out internships, entry-level positions, or even volunteer opportunities. Gaining practical exposure, even in small ways, can build your credibility. At IPG, we value enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, and we mentor and guide those who show potential.

Maintaining Motivation and Persistence

The commercial real estate journey is filled with highs and lows, and maintaining motivation can be challenging, especially when facing rejection and setbacks. I find that it is very important to develop a resilient mindset

Understand that rejection is part of the process, and each ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes.

Staying motivated also involves setting clear, achievable goals. Break your long-term objectives into smaller, manageable tasks and celebrate your progress along the way. Surround yourself with a supportive network – colleagues, mentors, and industry peers who can offer advice and encouragement.

You Can Do It!

Getting into the commercial real estate industry can be both exciting and challenging. Remember, understanding the industry, obtaining relevant education and certifications, building a strong network, and gaining practical experience are key steps to your success. Equip yourself with the necessary skills (and patience.. and lots of coffee) and prepare for the inevitable challenges with persistence and a positive mindset.

Ready to Start Your Journey in Commercial Real Estate?

Whether you’re just exploring or ready to dive in, our team is here to support you. Reach out to us for expert advice and guidance on your path to success.

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