In our global economy, it’s impossible to buy, sell or develop commercial property without financing. Because of this, there are a wide range of finance career options in commercial real estate (or CRE).
From investment to property evaluation to lending, skilled finance professionals are necessary every step of the way. You may choose to start your CRE career with a bank, lending institution, or insurance company depending on your focus.
Responsibilities in this industry vary depending on what kind of an institution you work for, and your specific role. At a high level, expect your CRE career to involve analyzing properties and clients, monitoring for signs of fraud, and overseeing processes to ensure legal protocols are followed.
Read on to learn more about specific duties, career options, and education requirements for CRE careers.
CRE career options include:
Commercial Real Estate Underwriter
An underwriter analyzes management capabilities of a client/borrower, the collateral real estate intended for the proposed loan, and the effectiveness of the loan’s structure. To fill this role, you must be extremely detail-oriented. You’ll also most likely need 3-5 years of commercial real estate experience.
Investor Services Associate
Investor services associates oversee payoffs, payments, remitting, and reports for multiple investors every month. They’re also responsible for accuracy and timely delivery. To fill this role, you must be very familiar with major US financing entities and how they operate. You’ll also need a bachelor’s degree and 3-5 years of finance experience.
As a portfolio manager, you’ll supervise clients’ accounts and review remittance/reconciliation requests. To fill this role, you must multi-task very well. You’ll also need 5-10 years of financial industry experience, but not specifically commercial real estate finance. This position is typically a bit easier to break into than others.
Commercial Property Mortgage Broker
Commercial property mortgage brokers sell business owners their commercial mortgages. You’re the go-between for both the bank and client. To fill this role, you must have a great memory of the legal and financial aspects of commercial mortgages. You’ll also need 3-5 years of real estate industry experience, and a license from the National Mortgage Licensure System.
Commercial Mortgage Loan Analyst
A commercial mortgage loan analyst does analyses of underwriting, appraisals, surveys, reports, loans, and leases. You’ll work more “behind the scenes” in this role compared to a portfolio manager or mortgage broker. To fill this role, you must be intimately familiar with the protocols and requirements of the commercial real estate industry. You’ll most likely need 2-4 years of experience in commercial real estate finance, specifically.
Commercial Real Estate Investment Analyst
Commercial real estate investment analysts underwrite, prepare reports, conduct market research, coordinate loan closings, and routinely analyze internal functions. If you enjoy being involved in the full process, you’ll thrive in this role. To be considered, you’ll need 2-3 years of CREF experience and a relevant bachelor’s degree.
Commercial Real Estate Loan Officer
As a commercial real estate loan officer, you’ll grow, underwrite, manage, and coordinate a business’s commercial real estate portfolio. If you enjoy underwriting or portfolio management and want to move up the ladder, this is the role for you. To fill this role, you’ll need to be comfortable and capable with commercial loans and assets. You’ll most likely need 4-6 years of experience in commercial real estate finance to be considered for this position.
Commercial real estate finance professionals should be capable of the following tasks:
Your exact daily duties will depend on which career you pursue. Regardless of which specific role you pursue, you’ll need to develop several crucial skills:
Management and Leadership
No matter which career path you follow, you’ll be expected to meet very high expectations. Commercial real estate finances are handled by the biggest, longest-standing institutions in the world… and they need you to represent their values. You’ll be expected to be proactive, demonstrate effective leadership, and manage your team members as efficiently as possible.
Outstanding Communication Skills
Every career in commercial real estate finance will involve you communicating with other people. You could be speaking with clients/borrowers, colleagues, superiors, and professionals from other institutions on a daily basis. And there’s a very slim margin for error in any finance career. So it’s crucial that you communicate clearly, concisely, and correctly.
Attention to Detail
Throughout your career in this industry, an eye for detail is absolutely necessary. You’ll be expected to remember quite a few laws, regulations, formulas, and protocols. Forgetting even one step or procedure could lead to hefty fines and an angry client or superior.
Commercial real estate professionals typically earn a bachelor’s degree in Accounting/Finance or have comparable military experience. If you majored in something else, don’t count yourself out. Many institutions will still consider you, so long as your major involved some classes in accounting, finance, or business.
In addition to a degree, you’ll likely need 3-7 years of experience in asset management or underwriting. Depending on the specific role, you may also need leadership experience and a strong knowledge of the legal intricacies involved with financing commercial real estate.
To start working towards your own career in this field, get a relevant bachelor’s degree and start working in finance or real estate. A few years of experience in an entry-level role is often enough to make you eligible for higher-paying roles in this industry.
Not interested in Commercial Real Estate Careers? Here are some other careers you may be interested in.