When most people think of CRE professionals, they automatically think about brokers, agents, and developers. While those are key roles in commercial real estate, there are a lot more players in the industry, and some of them have backgrounds that don’t actually involve real estate at all.
The 3.5 million people working in the commercial real estate industry took various paths to get there. It’s often an industry that people find themselves in by following their passions or by transitioning from a similar position in another industry.
If you’re thinking about starting a career in commercial real estate – or you’re an investor who wants to know more about how a CRE company operates – it helps to know the people involved. This rundown explains who the key players at a commercial real estate management or investment company are and what their roles entail.
Official Job Title: Asset Manager
Responsibilities: Once a property is purchased or acquired the asset manager steps in to take over in the general financial management of the property.
The job role of asset management is very broad ranging from overseeing operational expenses to orchestrating a marketing campaign. Generally, all of the financial and operational aspects of owning commercial real estate fall in the lap of the asset manager.
Official Job Title: Acquisition Manager
Responsibilities: An acquisitions manager oversees the acquiring of an existing property that already has in-place cash flow.
Acquisition managers play an important role in CRE companies that specialize in existing properties with assets. The manager will research markets, source properties, and analyze property details before putting in the work to close on the assets.
Official Job Title: Broker
Responsibilities: Facilitates the sale of commercial real estate between two parties, usually acting on behalf of their client, being either the buyer or seller.
Closing transactions is the bread and butter for CRE brokers, but they can offer other services like research, consulting, and commercial property management. They also oversee the work of junior brokers and salespeople at their firm.
Official Job Title: Investment Banker
Responsibilities: Capital or equity managers are the people that keep cash flowing into a CRE investment fund. They find sources of capital equity that make CRE investments possible.
Investment bankers, as these professionals are sometimes called, can work in-house at a CRE firm or they can be a third-party consultant.
Official Job Title: Consultant
Responsibilities: The job role of CRE consultant is very broad given that the professional can specialize in any aspect of commercial real estate.
Being a consultant simply means that you aren’t an employee, but rather a third-party who provides a property management firm with expertise and information. There are entire firms dedicated to CRE consulting as well as individual consultants and niche experts.
Official Job Title: Developer
Responsibilities: A commercial real estate developer oversees a commercial building project, starting with the purchase of raw or buildable land.
The goal of a developer is to make a profit by improving the use of a property. This can mean building from scratch or making improvements and changes to a property that is underutilized.
Official Job Title: Investor
Responsibilities: Anyone who purchases commercial property, is a commercial property owner, or has ownership in a commercial building and uses it to generate profit or for business purposes are investors.
This is not to be confused with investment banking, which is a third-party that acts as the intermediary in an enterprise-level transaction.
Official Job Title: Lender
Responsibilities: The entity that oversees the process of initiating and finalizing the loan for a commercial real estate transaction is a CRE lender, also known as a loan servicer. They also manage the loan thereafter, monitoring repayments and other borrower requirements.
Official Job Title: Portfolio Manager
Responsibilities: A CRE portfolio manager manages an investment portfolio, deciding which CRE investments to make as well as creating a strategy to optimize performance.
The portfolio manager doesn’t just decide when to buy or sell. They must constantly analyze and monitor the performance of CRE assets in order to make those decisions and keep a portfolio profitable.
Official Job Title: Property Manager
Responsibilities: Commercial property management is in charge of the day-to-day activities for a property.
The commercial property managers are usually onsite during the week to manage property maintenance needs and interact directly with the tenant, or tenants, as well as the service providers. Many commercial property managers start out in managing residential properties, which isn’t as specialized.
Official Job Title: Corporate Occupier
Responsibilities: A CRE occupier is a non-real estate-focused company that owns its commercial properties where it operates.
The properties in a CRE occupier’s portfolio are often sizable, either serving as office space for employees, retail space where customers shop, or manufacturing space where products are produced. Operational efficiency is a top priority for corporate occupiers. Often corporate occupiers enlist the help of CRE specialists to purchase, acquire, research, manage, develop and sell their properties.
Official Job Title: Data Analyst
Responsibilities: Aggregates, analyzes, and reports on commercial real estate data that is shared with stakeholders.
The newest CRE professionals to join the team are data analysts. As big data gets bigger and data mining gets easier, this job role is becoming more important at commercial real estate companies. Managing data and keeping up with the latest technologies is now a full-time job that has the potential to be done in-house with an advanced data analysis platform built specifically for commercial real estate investment and management.
The list above is a small sampling of the job roles and occupations within the commercial real estate industry. Many people make their way into the industry by starting out on the residential side, but that isn’t always the case. And as the industry evolves, there’s no telling what specialty could be in demand next.