CRE: Unlocking Potential: Many Paths Lead to a Career in Real Estate

Whether you have a passion for designing, building relationships, or working with figures, commercial real estate has many niches and paths to success.

Building a Career Path

John Heine, a commercial real estate broker with Oak Investment Real Estate, has always enjoyed walking through buildings and seeing construction. 

“Working on tangible assets as investments and making an asset more valuable through management appealed to me,” he said. “Not being stuck in the office was also a perk.”

Aside from experience with hundreds of real estate transactions, Heine also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he teaches a real estate development course. 

Zach Reinhardt, president of real estate at Evergreen, was drawn to a career in commercial real estate because he saw it as a way to have a direct impact on shaping the future of the community. 

“There is so much potential in our community,” he said. “Commercial real estate professionals are out there actively working to unlock that potential, and I wanted to be a part of that energy.” 

Reinhardt has found career success in multi-family development as a means to impact the Omaha community. 

- Advertisement -

When Tami Moore, real estate development manager at Assurity, started in commercial real estate more than 20 years ago, earning a competitive wage as well as a discount on her apartment was what appealed to her. As she built tenure in the industry, she recognized that she could find comradery among the many women in the profession.  

“This attribute resonated with me, as I found an industry where I would be respected, valued, and heard,” she said. “I was very fortunate to have found strong mentors along the way that encouraged my development. With their guidance and support, I grew alongside them within their companies.” 

The world of real estate has opportunities to fit many skill sets and personal objectives, such as asset maintenance, property management, leasing, brokerage, financing, investments, insurance, legal counsel, building contractors, communication and technology, architects, designers, subcontractors, contractors, developers, building suppliers, appraisers, engineers, city council, and city and state facilitators.  

“Not all real estate careers are commission-based,” Reinhardt said. “There are plenty of salaried roles in commercial real estate, including property management.” 

Don’t be afraid to change paths.

 “If you start as a maintenance tech, that doesn’t mean that is your career forever,” Moore said. “You can still be a part of CR (commercial real estate) in other facets and maybe a managerial or different position is better suited. CR has the ability to cater to all individual strengths and goals.”

Key Ingredients for Success

When it comes to success, there is no single path, Heine said. 

“The people who will have staying power are the ones who consistently work hard, are extremely competent, add value and are useful to their clients, and have great reputations,” he said. “Having a specialization and creating a niche helps.”

What are the characteristics of successful real estate professionals? 

“Tenaciously creative and prudently optimistic,” Reinhardt said. 

“There are myriad challenges and risks in commercial real estate, and to be successful, one must be tenacious to push through the challenges, be creative to find solutions to move deals and projects forward, be prudent to identify the risks in each deal or project and be optimistic to move forward in the face of adversity,” he added. 

Moore said that communication, preparation, and teamwork are the foundation of success in any career.  

“Building relationships and learning from your mistakes are the two fundamentals to live by to succeed because CR affects everyone on a personal and professional level,” she said.   

The best resources for developing your career may be your relationships and the experience already around you.  

 “There is a wealth of knowledge in Omaha, and we all have the ability to connect and learn from each other,” Heine said. “Most people are gracious about sharing knowledge. I’d encourage people to find a mentor and a group of people you enjoy bouncing ideas and best practices.”

Getting Involved 

Attending the Commercial Real Estate Summit and getting involved with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Omaha or Certified Commercial Investment Manager (CCIM) chapters are just some of the many opportunities that local professionals have. 

“The commercial real estate industry is a community of people with a common passion,” Reinhardt said. “One of my favorite things about this industry is that there are so many organizations, events, and educational opportunities that one doesn’t need to look far to find ways to grow. 

“I have had fantastic experiences mentoring students and new real estate professionals, and I have benefited greatly from the mentors I’ve had in my career. I really believe that everyone should be mentored and be mentoring. It is one of the best ways to positively impact the profession.”

This industry can be complicated due to the array of moving parts, and you must be willing to ask for help if you are to continue to learn. 

“People are your biggest resource in this industry,” Moore said. “Everyone I have approached has been open to help explain and/or coach me when I have reached out. The CREW network is a great example of a group that encourages asking questions and thrives to help others succeed. I have also been successful in contacting local municipalities for direction and guidance.”

Heine noted, above all, enjoy the journey. 

“Success usually doesn’t come immediately,” he said. “Add value to the client and figure out how you can be helpful. It’s amazing how much we as practitioners learn from our clients and network. Keep an open mind and always learn.”

Don’t be afraid to start at an entry level and work your way up. 

“Be humble enough to be teachable but confident enough to take some risks and make mistakes,” Reinhardt said. “After all, we tend to learn the most from our mistakes.” 

You will have the ability to learn the path as you go and have a better understanding and appreciation of others.  

“This is a fast-paced industry,” Moore said. “Be prepared to work long hours and find ways to delegate so you don’t burn out. If you put in the work, you will grow with it. This industry has no ceiling and will give back what is put in.”

While the current interest rate environment may give some pause, showing grit will give you a leg up. 

“As in the past, we will cycle through and come out stronger,” Heine said. “There will be a lot of healthy growth for the folks that can grind through the challenging times.”