March 21, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Belk College of BusinessWebsite
Daniel Wright: -Focus on diversity: I am getting a lot of employers calling me for historically underrepresented students (minorities and women) whom they can hire.
-Educated Workforce: There are an ever-increasing number of students coming out of Master's in Real Estate programs, so the demand for higher educated students is increasing.
-Data Analytics: The need for and availability of technology and talent is allowing companies to increase their data analytics.
-Competitive Workforce: The pandemic has provided time for people to pursue a real estate license or real estate degree, so there is likely to be a higher supply of available candidates increasing competition, allowing for potentially lower pay.
-Capital Placement: There is a lot of capital available for placement so there may be an increase of jobs available in private equity and other capital placement type jobs.
Daniel Wright: -MBA with concentration in real estate or Master's in Real Estate
-Undergraduate degree in finance with real estate major
-State real estate license with broker designation
-Online course certifications such as Adventures in Commercial Real Estate
-Real estate modeling courses
-Data analytics courses
Daniel Wright: New graduates will face the issue of in-person mentorship. It will be a challenge for graduates to understand the company culture, observe the key company players, get a sense for the company brand, and have one-on-one help as they start out. The flip side is they may have access to a broader array of people which could prove beneficial. New graduates will have spent a year in the virtual environment, so depending on the company this may be business as usual or the new graduates may find themselves "unpracticed' in social interaction within a professional environment.
There may be a bit of a rude awakening if students were used to hybrid type courses that afforded maximum flexibility and then need to shift to a fixed schedule with their employer.
Daniel Wright: Everything is fluid so it is hard to tell at this point. Many employers are staying virtual at least through year's end while others are in-person. They will continue to utilize Zoom calls and will need to be proactive to ensure engagement with peers. The environment will require more self-discipline with limited over-the-back managers.
Daniel Wright: -Real estate companies and transactions have become quite complex overall, so salaries continue to increase reflecting the needed education to make real estate deals successful.
-However, there continues to be a ton of small real estate companies which often pay lower salaries.
Daniel Wright: Understanding how to leverage technology to have conversations and get work done; being responsible and professional beyond what is expected; working hard; opportunities will not just show up, they will require more intensity and effort.
Georgia State University
Department of Real EstateWebsite
Lynn McKee: The job market was very active in 2019 and early 2020 and then shut down in March as the pandemic spread. Many employers laid off employees, particularly junior level analysts and associates for lack of work and budgetary constraints. We are now seeing these employers starting to rehire the laid off employees and considering new employees.
We've seen the number of job postings increase and a few grads from last year have received offers in late 2020 and so far in 2021. However, our entry level grads must often compete with laid off analysts and associates which already have a few years of experience under their belt. This makes for a still challenging job market for entry level grads. We expect this dynamic to improve as the pandemic wanes, the economy comes back and companies decide to grow to meet future investment opportunities as the year progresses.
Lynn McKee: From entry-level grads, employers are looking for hard skills, like Argus certification, proven Excel skills and CoStar proficiency. Some experience from internships is also important to get a grad over the "no CRE experience" hurdle.
Lynn McKee: We believe the most promising job markets will be the growth markets of the Southeast and Southwest (Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Austin, etc...). These markets are positioned to receive company and population relocations out of the extensive coastal markets as companies disperse their workforce and talent pools. Real estate demand and therefore job opportunities will follow this relocation pattern. More difficult markets will be these large coastal markets (New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, LA, etc...) which have existing deep pools of real estate talent but potentially diminishing real estate demand and therefore job opportunities.
Florida State University
Department of Risk Management, Insurance, Real Estate, and Legal StudiesWebsite
Mariya Letdin Ph.D.: I think there will be an enduring impact on the commercial real estate industry and on the graduates who seek employment in it. First, allocation of capital is shifting between different asset classes and cities as a result of the pandemic. Second, the trajectory of careers may be different for some graduates who are not able to find employment in the sector or city of their choice. Thus, their careers may not be as linear as they would have been.
Mariya Letdin Ph.D.: Skills needed to enter the workforce have not changed, but I think the emphasis on preparation has increased. The pandemic has made it more challenging to train new hires, and thus graduates with strong analytical skills and some experience (internships, project work) at the time of hire may fair better.
Mariya Letdin Ph.D.: Experience in the area where graduates are seeking employment is, of course, best. That said, any work experience that demonstrates discipline, achievement, and drive to succeed is very valuable.
University of Alaska Anchorage
Weidner Property Management and Real Estate Program at CBPPWebsite
Terry Fields: In my experience, the attribute that will dictate the future success of a graduate most accurately is strong emotional intelligence. This has been the case in the past, and it will continue to be critical to the success of real estate managers. Inherent in this skill is the ability to know yourself, to know your audience (clients, co-workers, supervisors, vendors, etc.), and to most effectively deliver communication that is clear, considerate of the audience, and empathetic. Employees that have this skill are better practitioners, better team members, and better leaders. They form stronger relationships, manage conflict more effectively, and grow their circle of influence. In competitive markets, if the "tide goes out," these are the individuals that build a personal reputation and loyalty that make their presence even more critical to the success of the organization.
In addition to emotional intelligence, two hard skills that will benefit young graduates are financial and technical competencies. The ability to comprehend the big picture of their role, expressed in dollars and graphs, will enable them to more effectively communicate with supervisors and correlate their daily activities with the mission and objectives of the organization. Being able to identify trends, variances, correlations, and causations in the spreadsheets will make their work as practitioners more effective and signal to their supervisors the higher level of thinking required for promotions in this industry. Technical competency will also continue to play a critical role in moving forward. Communication and financial skills are often expressed through the use of technical tools, including spreadsheets, virtual communication apps, presentation and design software, and property management and marketing solutions. Graduates with a strong grasp of technology and an ability to quickly learn new systems will be better able to demonstrate and communicate their value in a professional way.
Terry Fields: One of the wonderful things about working in real estate is that it is literally everywhere. Furthermore, real estate management involves the overseeing of existing real estate assets that require management, despite conditions in the general economy (within reason). Therefore, positions in this industry tend to be less cyclical or location-dependent. The real estate market lags behind the general economy, so real estate growth will tend to follow in areas of job growth, population growth, and the subsequent real estate development to meet the business and housing needs. Over the past several years, development phases have been seen all over the country, including Seattle, Austin, Nashville, and Boston. The industry consistently posts more career availability than candidates, and a graduate that is flexible and able to remain mobile is more likely to see their career progress more quickly and with greater options.
Terry Fields: Technology has been a tool for this field in development, marketing, facilities management, financial analysis, and administration. In the next five years, there will be a continued shift toward electronic signatures and document solutions, artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality in marketing, and smart building systems, including sustainability, security, monitoring, and unit amenities. One of the trending topics today is how the COVID-19 pandemic might reshape the landscape for how employees work moving forward and the implications that would have on the commercial and residential industries. If employees can be as productive working remotely as they can in an office, why should companies carry the overhead of commercial leases or assets? Similarly, if people are not tethered to their employer and office location, how might their housing decisions change?
Another popular topic that has been developing, well before the pandemic, is the role of retail property in the rise of e-commerce. Most people agree that retail property has a place in the omnichannel of retailers, but how it looks and functions moving forward will be impacted by the digital space. In the end, people need a place to live, and companies need space to operate, manufacture, store, distribute, and sell goods/services. What that space looks like, how it is owned and operated, and where it is located will shift as technology and the general economy shift. Five years is a short timeline for real estate, but current trends may start the progression toward larger shifts in the industry.
National Association of RealtorsWebsite
Dr. Jessica Lautz: This is a unique time in the economy. The U.S. is finding new priorities that are important, cooking at home, the value of pets, and the importance of virtual tools. All of these changes come with the growth of new job sectors.
Dr. Jessica Lautz: Within the real estate sector, there has been increased growth in virtual tours, virtual listings, and even virtual open houses. Real estate consumers are looking at new ways to explore properties without leaving their homes. These tools are important in finding new ways to do business in this heavy tech world. Changes like these are inevitable moving forward.
The Appraisal Foundation
Dave Bunton: During the pandemic, we've seen an increase in the number of people hoping to join the appraisal profession. This makes sense because appraisal work allows you to work out of your home independently, has flexible hours, and takes advantage of the latest technology. While many industries have had to make these shifts after the pandemic started, appraisers have been working this way for years, and we're pleased that folks looking to start or shift their careers are discovering these benefits in the appraisal profession.
Dave Bunton: Appraisers are self-starters and good communicators. They have to be tech-savvy and motivated to solve problems. They also need to be organized and analytical to deliver the end product to their client.
Dave Bunton: There is always a need for appraisers around the country, and no area is necessarily better than the other. It's more about what an aspiring appraiser would like to focus on, whether it be high rises or historic properties.