From Real Estate Broker To Real Estate Investment, CAIA Or CFA?

Hey All,

Thank you for your time reading this. Your constructive feedback here would mean a lot in shaping my future.

I graduated with a non-finance degree. I’ve been working as a real estate broker / salesperson, where my duties are marketing, networking and sales.

I intend to start a real estate development company , and develop properties in the future.

While working as a realtor, I’ve learnt sales and marketing skills, and I’m now looking to switch job to gain network and experience in the financial side of real estate, that would directly be useful for when i start the company.

To do that, I think real estate investment role would be ideal (correct me if I’m wrong). And to land that job, i think my 3 to 4 years experience in real estate would be helpful, but I’m lacking a finance education, and now I’m torn between CAIA and CFA.

So my question is,

1) Should I go for CAIA or CFA?

2) Is real estate investment position in a PE a good place to gain financial knowledge and network that would later be helpful in starting a real estate development company?

Once again, thank you for reading, and hope to get some advice from experts here.



You don’t NEED neither. Just focus building on professional network on real estate.

You don’t mention whether you mean residential RE or commercial RE.

I’ve worked in commercial real estate brokerage, development, and investment for 20 years. I do not have a finance degree. You don’t need either the CFA or CAIA. In fact, no one I’ve worked with even knows what CAIA is. Some are aware of CFA, but don’t know anything about it.

If anything, top developers and investors like to see an MBA or masters in finance. Many people choose to get an MRED (masters in RE development), but if you were choosing between MBA and MRED, always go with the MBA.

Since you intend to go into development, I would not recommend going the RE in PE route. I’d try to get in with an established developer and investor. You could go straight developer (a firm that focuses on getting development mgmt fees), but it would be more useful to be on the ownership/equity side. So, a developer that also takes ownership stakes and JVs with investor partners.

You can start by taking RE finance classes/seminars to beef up your knowledge. Check with area colleges and universities that have MRED programs or MBA programs with RE focus. If you get into development, the first thing you’ll be asked to do is financial modeling - DCFs, pro formas, waterfalls, sensitivity analyses. Financial modeling is the foundation of all commercial RE development.

it would be better to have the real estate financial knowledge though?

i am looking to gain knowledge on the below, and was thinking getting a CAIA or CFA might be somewhat of an assistance.

  • fund raising

  • dividends distribution and/or structuring returns to investors

  • contract and legality to give confidence to investors

I’m dealing with residential RE

@jt703 @ws

thanks for your insights. I now have a clearer understanding of what I should look into :slight_smile:

I work for a private REIT in NYC. Neither is required and a MBA is typically seen better in the real estate world versus these “add on” designations. For development, there are a few programs such as Columbia here in NYC that have specific masters in real estate development. For development firms, that may be even better than an MBA.

A CFA may be a bonus in some real estate institutions that manage others money or firms like Blackstone but not somebody in residential development. I’m glad I went thru the CFA program but sometimes wonder if the studying for three springs was worth it

CAIA may be nice to have in a specialized hedge fund. It’s very focused on due diligence versus actual analysis though.

Btw: neither program goes into what you are wanting to learn. They are not built on running the firm making the investments.

Re: residential - You don’t need either. If you want to pursue a degree, I’d recommend MBA just because the general business management and marketing concepts you learn in MBA would be useful if you intend to start your own company. A class or basic certification in real estate finance would be very useful. Since you want to do development, you’ll need to know how to underwrite deals, choose how to finance deals, and understand development budgets. There’s a lot of project management in development, too. You’re already a broker, so you already know how to read contracts and you understand basic RE legal language and local laws/codes. Maybe connect/network with some local small- to medium-scale resi developers and get a feel for how land assemblages and rezoning are done, sourcing labor, and what local gov’t challenges there are (the county board can make or break your project).

CRE Broker here. Based on your original and subsequent posts, I would say neither. Now as far as development, how do you want to develop? Are you going the syndicator route or something else? Even though I assume you will stick to residential, does that mean you want to pursue single family home development of multi-family? They are 2 very different worlds.

@dssh, I think if you have time, you can go for both exams. My suggestion is not from the view of the real estate broker, I just think those designations look good on resume.