The work of real estate developers requires strong skills not only in terms of real estate matters, but also in such areas as financial management, securing financing for developments, marketing and contracting with such subcontractors as architects and construction companies. The role of real estate developer has considerable value within the context of commercial property development, and as such leads to lucrative salaries for experienced, successful developers.
The work of a real estate developer involves purchasing, building, and sometimes property management of realty properties. Developers must have the ability to recognize potential in available land sites for later development, as well as the capacity to secure financing for proposed buildings. They purchase large land tracts, then work toward building and developing those sites into commercial structures such as industrial complexes, shopping malls, and residential communities. They may have involvement with renewal projects, such as the purchase of neglected properties for development into updated apartment complexes or by repurposing them into a commercial site. Real estate developers act as intermediaries between the businesses who will use the developed sites and the construction companies that build the complexes. Real estate developers may also function as property managers, performing such work as facility maintenance.
Some real estate developers work for land development firms or for large real estate agencies. Some work on a self-employed basis in their own development firms, and may also own construction companies or real estate firms. Real estate developers also can work for colleges or universities, for nonprofit organizations, and for governments at the local, state and federal levels.
Experienced real estate developers may specialize in a particular type of development, such as industrial property development. Some such developers even focus fully on the development of entire communities.
To prepare for a real estate developer career, individuals typically take postsecondary school courses through technical schools, universities, community colleges or through programs run by real estate boards. Many have master’s-level degrees in marketing, urban planning, business administration or related disciplines. Additionally, real estate developers typically begin their careers working their way up through the ranks in real estate, starting with an entry-level position in a real estate firm, a practice that serves as a form of on-the-job training.
Salaries vary depending on such variables as geographical location, years of experience, and type of employer. By type of employer, annual real estate developer salaries range from approximately $48,000 for those employed by a nonprofit organization to approximately $90,000 for those working for the federal government. With reference to experience, annual salaries range from approximately $40,000 for those with less than a year’s experience in the industry to approximately $90,000 for those with more than 20 years’ experience.