The real estate developer myth

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
— Epictetus

Growing up, I assumed all real estate developers started out as wealthy insiders.  Greedy aristocrats who inherited land and had impeccable family connections to advance their development interests.  That may be the truth in some cases, but the majority of real life developers I have met over my career do not fit that mythological mold.

One of the first real estate developers I met, immigrated from Sri Lanka to Welland, Ontario.  I cannot imagine his culture shock in joining the community!  It is safe to say he did not have deep family roots in Welland nor political connections in the Niagara area.  I was however, inspired by his tenacity and vision to build a hotel in the Niagara Falls area.  He did not have ostentatious cars or clothes.  He in no way projected the bluster and arrogance of a Donald Trump.  

He was opening a limited service hotel in a highly competitive market and was figuratively and literally working flat out to secure permanent financing to replace his construction financing.  I say literally working flat out, because on the day we met, he was suffering from sciatica back pain and was lying on the floor of his construction site office trying relieve the pain.  At the time I was a hotel appraiser and I was quite happy to reschedule, considering his condition.  However, he insisted on keeping the appointment and was juggling business phone calls to boot.

Since then, I have met real estate developers of all types.  They have had professional backgrounds ranging anywhere from accountant, architect, civil engineer, computer engineer, lawyer, or financial analyst.  Their diverse backgrounds give them some insight into the development process, however, no one, has all the expertise to put together the pieces to the puzzle of real estate development.  Their common area of expertise was the ability to build teams of professionals and lead them through a challenging development process, while managing government and community stakeholders.

Do not let the Real Estate Developer myth discourage you from considering a career in real estate development.  There are plenty of opportunities in this field of work for persistent young professionals with a vision.

Andrew Garrett