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Is Real Estate Investment Trusts a Good Career Path?

Assess the suitability of a career in real estate investment. Explore benefits, top-paying roles, key companies, and salary scales to make an informed decision.

By 

Synkdup Editorial Team   

|  16 February 2024

Is Real Estate Investment Trusts a Good Career Path

It may not be as popular a career option as others, but don’t let that affect your judgment on is real estate investment trusts a good career path. REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) can be a great career path for anyone who is interested in investment, real estate, or finance. And if you happen to be interested in all of these, REITs could be the ideal career path for you.

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Real estate is an age-old and tried and tested option for people looking to invest money. And the returns are really lucrative as well. But, managing properties is no side gig; it takes considerable time, effort, and market knowledge. Not to mention the risk that comes with big investments. And that’s where real estate investment trusts come in.

These firms enable people to explore and invest in real estate without direct involvement or industry know-how. They help investors minimize risk, and take care of all the activities involved in managing the investments to maximize their earnings from them.

So, if you like the idea of working to help people make the most of their real estate investments, getting a job at a real estate investment trust may be just the thing for you.

In this post, we discuss REITs in some detail and explore different aspects of working in REITs that will help you decide if it is a good career path for you.

What are Real Estate Investment Trusts

Real estate investment trusts are publicly listed companies that own and manage rent-generating real-estate properties for clients. It can include different types of properties like apartment complexes, office buildings, shopping malls, etc. Their clients are mostly people looking for a safe and hassle-free way to invest in real estate.

Overseeing all investment-related activities for clients is not all that REITs do, though. They help with real estate investments the same way mutual funds help with investing in stocks and bonds. They help investors manage risk by allowing them to own properties partially and not have all their eggs in one basket. They raise funds to buy a property by pooling together the money invested by multiple investors.

Investors are paid regular dividends from the rental income generated by these properties. And if the properties are resold at a profit, investors also share a part of that profit based on how much money they have invested.

Types of REITs

An REIT may fall into any of these three broad categories:

Equity REITs

These are the big players in REITs. They buy and manage properties, which they rent out. These are generally residential, commercial, or industrial properties that yield a high rent. The rent paid on these properties is the main source of their income, rather than the resale value of the property. They also profit from reselling the properties, and both the resale profit and the rental income are shared with the investors.

Mortgage REITs

Their business model is slightly different from the general idea of real estate investment trusts. Rather than investing in real estate properties directly, they finance the purchase of properties. In simple words, they provide loans to people looking to buy or build real estate properties. Think of them like banks for REITS. They finance all kinds of real estate projects, from building properties to buying and selling them. The interest that is paid on the loans they provide is the primary source of income for these firms. This makes them very sensitive to changes in interest rates.

Hybrid REITs

As the name suggests, the business model of these REITs is a blend of equity and mortgage REITs. They mainly work as an equity REIT, collecting rent on properties, but they also finance real estate projects to earn more money in the form of interest.

What Makes Real Estate Investment Trusts a Good Career Path

REITs offer a wide range of job roles in different fields that come with great benefits and career advancement opportunities. But almost all major industries offer that, what makes REITs so special? Well, here are some benefits of working in REITs that you may not get in other industries.

Stability

You may have a more stable job working at a REIT than you would at a regular real-estate investment firm. This is because REITs generally deal in different kinds of properties, and their business is only partially affected by fluctuations in a particular segment of real estate.

Thorough learning

REITs generally hold different kinds of rent-generating properties. So, you will most likely get a varied work experience where you will be working on, say, an apartment building one day, and a theme park the next day. This can be really great for developing a well-rounded skill set.

Premium work

Most REITs focus on large projects involving huge investments. If you are interested in working in real estate, getting a job at an REIT is a great option, as you would get to work on some of the most exciting projects out there.

Multiple Entry-Ways

All kinds of professionals, from a realtor to a lawyer, can enter and make a fulfilling career at a REIT. If you have a bachelor’s in a business-related field, there is a wide range of careers you can pursue in REITs. You can start a career in mortgage brokerage, credit analysis, loan funding, loan processing, underwriting, foreclosure management, investment, or any field of your interest. And for many roles, you can get a job without any experience, too.

How Many Jobs are Available in Real Estate Investment Trusts

A report by the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) suggests that there were 1.855 million people employed in real estate in February 2023. As per LinkedIn, there are more than 1,278 jobs available in real estate investment trusts in the U.S. right now. And the industry already employs more than 308,300 people full-time. Most of these people work in one of the following divisions:

  • Finance
  • Land Acquisition
  • Land Development
  • Leasing
  • Property and Portfolio management

How many jobs are available for you in the industry depends largely on what specific job role you are interested in, as some roles employ significantly more people than others.

For instance, there are over 478,780 certified public accountants working in the U.S., while the number of realtors working in the country is only 168,016. As per the BLS, though, the overall employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is projected to grow five percent from 2021 to 2023.

Some of the major companies responsible for generating employment opportunities in the REEIT sector include Annaly, Equinix, Simon, Prologis, American Tower, Public Storage, Crown Castle, and AGNC.

Best-paying jobs in Real Estate Investment Trusts

How much you can make in a sector is an important consideration when deciding if it is a good sector to make a career in. With REEITs, the good thing is that their business involves a high volume of capital. This means that the returns are equally hefty, and employees are generally paid very handsomely.

Some of the best-paying jobs in real estate investment trusts are listed below.

1. Investment Analyst

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $96,640)

Investment analysts mostly assess and analyze investment opportunities for the company. They also work on tracing the performance of the investments made in the past. Theirs is the role of an advisor, and they are mainly responsible for providing insights and suggestions on investment proposals and decisions.

Their jobs involve a wide range of tasks, from reading financial statements to preparing reports and presentations. They use their expertise to estimate the value of investments, both current and projected. They analyze market trends, economic conditions, and other relevant factors to determine the potential risks and benefits of an investment.

A bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, or real estate is generally the minimum requirement for this role.

2. Investor Relations Manager

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $83,189)

An investor relations manager is responsible for ensuring that there is effective and transparent communication between the company and investors. Their primary responsibility is to convey relevant information, like the company’s financial performance and initiatives, to investors in the most profitable manner.

They also monitor market trends and investor sentiment and gather feedback from investors and analysts to better understand investor expectations. They ensure that the company always complies with relevant regulations, including disclosure requirements and reporting obligations.

Though their primary objective is retaining investors, they may also be involved in identifying and reaching out to potential investors.

The minimum educational qualification for this role is a bachelor’s in finance, business, marketing, corporate communications, or related fields.

3. Realtor

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $96,593)

Generally, a realtor works as an intermediary between the buyer and seller of a real estate property, but a realtor working at an REIT has a slightly different role. Realtors at REITs perform a wider range of tasks, which may include portfolio optimization and market analysis as well.

They may also be required to identify new investment opportunities and negotiate deals to acquire suitable properties for the REIT. However, overseeing day-to-day property management tasks like leasing, property maintenance, and rent collection is their most common responsibility. They often assess the performance of individual properties and make suggestions on property renovation and disposition.

You need to have a real estate license and be a member of the NRA (National Realtors Association) to work as a realtor.

4. Leasing Agent

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $42,180)

Also known as a leasing consultant, a leasing agent working for an REIT is a professional who assists the company in the leasing of rental properties they own. The key function of leasing agents is to secure renters for their properties.

They handle inquiries from potential clients and carry out various screening activities like background checks, reference checks, and credit checks. Advertising the properties is also a major part of their job, and they oversee things like writing property descriptions, taking photos of properties, and making property listings.

They also handle tasks like preparing lease agreements and rental contracts, collecting security deposits, and facilitating the lease signing process. On the whole, they play a vital role in connecting the tenants with the REIT and ensuring a smooth and efficient leasing process.

A high school diploma or a GED is usually enough educational qualification to get a job as a realtor, it is the sales and marketing skills that matter more.

5. Financial Manager

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $128,720)

A financial manager at an REIT is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the economic activities and operations related to the real estate investments. They mainly do things like plan and implement strategies to support the company’s investment goals.

They oversee the preparation of financial statements, performance reports, and regulatory filings. They monitor cash flows, analyze funding requirements, and make recommendations regarding investments.

They assess and manage financial risks associated with investments, such as interest rate risks, liquidity risks, and market risks. Overall, they are responsible for financial planning and analysis, budgeting and reporting, capital management, and risk management.

You typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to finance and about 5 years of experience in a position like an accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.

6. Lawyers

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $127, 990)

There are a lot of legal formalities and procedures involved in investing in real estate, and most REITs have an in-house lawyer to provide legal counsel and guidance on various legal matters. A lawyer ensures legal compliance, protects the company’s interests, and helps minimize the legal risks associated with investments.

Lawyers provide advice on property acquisitions, financing arrangements, legal agreements, contracts, and so on. They monitor changes in the legislation and regulatory requirements that affect the real estate industry and suggest compliance measures.

They represent the firm in the event of a legal dispute or litigation. They assess the claims against the REITs and participate in negotiations, settlement discussions, and alternative dispute resolution methods.

You need to earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to become a lawyer.

7. Accountant

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $77,250)

Accountants are financial professionals who are responsible for the recording and reporting of financial transactions and play a critical role in maintaining the financial health and integrity of the organization. Their main job is to ensure the accurate recording of financial transactions, prepare financial statements, and provide financial analysis to support the company’s objectives.

Accountants maintain general ledgers, prepare balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, and reconcile accounts. They prepare and file tax returns, assist in tax audits, and ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations applicable to the company. They may also be required to participate in budgeting and forecasting and evaluating the performance of different properties and investment portfolios.

You need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business to get a job as an accountant.

8. Investment Banker

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $90,829)

An investment banker performs a variety of functions, the primary of which is to help the company raise capital. In addition to capital raising, an investment banker typically helps the company with financial advisory services, financial analysis, and valuation processes.

Investment bankers help companies clearly understand the financial implications of proposed investments. They assess the value of real estate assets, perform financial modeling, and analyze market trends and projections. They assist in managing the REITs capital structure, analyzing financing options, and optimizing the cost of capital. Additionally, they work to communicate the company’s financial performance, investment strategies, and growth prospects to investors.

A bachelor’s degree in a finance-related discipline is the minimum educational qualification required for this role. However, most investment bankers have a master’s degree, like a CFA or MBA.

9. Zoning Administrator

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $73,282)

Zoning is a process by which land is divided into different parts, or zones, with specific regulations on how the land can be used. A zoning administrator at an REIT is responsible for managing and overseeing zoning-related matters within the REIT's real estate portfolio.

Zoning administrators review zoning codes, ordinances, and land-use plans to understand the specific requirements for each property. They need to collaborate closely with local government agencies or planning departments to interpret and incorporate zoning regulations correctly.

They also handle the permitting process for property development or modification projects. Overall, though, they ensure that the activities of the REIT are in line with the zoning regulations.

You typically need a bachelor’s in engineering or architecture to get a job as a zoning administrator.

10. Foreclosure Specialist

(Average annual salary in the U.S. – $53,963)

A foreclosure specialist is a professional who handles the legal and administrative tasks involved in foreclosing on a property when a borrower defaults on their loan payments or mortgage. A foreclosure specialist could be a real estate agent who specializes in foreclosure laws and documentation.

Foreclosure specialists ensure that all the necessary steps and rules involved in a foreclosure process are followed according to the applicable laws and regulations. They prepare and review various legal documents, like affidavits and foreclosure notices, required for the foreclosure process.

They may undertake tasks related to property management after the foreclosure process, such as the eviction of the occupants or the securing of the property. They are also involved in the auction in case the foreclosure process leads to the sale of the property.

You typically need a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or a related field and at least three years of experience in mortgage loan servicing to get a job as a foreclosure specialist in an REIT.

Useful Skills for a Career in REITs

The skills you would need at a real estate investment trust will vary depending on your specific job role. However, here are some things being good at generally helps with making a career in REITs. If you already have some of these skills or think you could learn them easily, REIT can be a superb career path for you.

  • Having good negotiation and interpersonal skills.
  • Being good with numbers and quantitative data and enjoying making calculations.
  • Knowing how to read documents like financial statements and general ledgers.
  • Having an analytical bent of mind.
  • Being familiar with legal and regulatory jargon
  • Knowledge of the real estate market, trends, and economic indicators

Just imagine yourself working for a company that takes money from people, puts it together, and uses it to buy a rent-generating real estate property. It’s obvious that how you are with numbers and figures is an important factor in determining is real estate investment trusts a good career path or not.

Besides these, having qualities and competencies that make you a fun person to work with also goes a long way.

How to Get a Job in REITs

Again, it depends on the specifics, like the job title, the company, and so on. But of course, some things are the same across the board. For instance, you always have to write a resume. And often, you have to write a cover letter as well.

Once you have decided on a specific job, look for relevant courses and certifications available online. There are well-rounded and affordable courses on almost everything today, you just need to do some research.

Staying updated with industry trends and news is also highly advisable, it can be particularly useful during interviews. It will also help you stay informed about job openings at different companies.

Make sure you make full use of different online job search websites and check them for jobs regularly. Also, if you have got some companies in mind, you should regularly check the careers section on their websites as well. Try to customize your LinkedIn profile and also use other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach people in the industry.

Following a real estate investment-related page is not only a great way to learn about the industry, but it can be very useful for networking as well. Among the followers of the page, you can also find people who work in REITs and could guide you on how to get a job in the industry.

If you are confident enough, you can even try simply walking into an REIT company and asking the HR if there is an opening for you. If that’s a bit much, you can at least tell your friends and family to keep their eyes and ears open for job openings in REITs.

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