Key Facts About Real Estate Finance Jobs

As commercial and residential real estate values continue to rise at rates that rival the major stock indexes, you better believe the financial world is in on the gains.

You can’t buy property without financing; a fact that makes financial services and real estate forever linked on the lending side of the game. But over the decades, real estate has also come to occupy a bigger and bigger share of investment holdings, both at the institutional level and among wealthy individuals.

In simplest terms, the real estate industry can be split into two basic categories: commercial and residential. Commercial real estate finance usually involves financing or investments related to multi-family homes, shopping centers, industrial and office properties. Residential real estate finance, on the other hand, involves financing or investments specific to single family homes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), real estate is one of the most specialized niche areas of finance, with just 470 personal financial advisors identifying themselves as real estate specialists as of May 2020. But that little slice of the industry is also where some of the best salaries are found. In fact, BLS identifies real estate as one of the top paying niche areas for personal financial advisors, with an average  salary of $130,430 as of May 2020.*

Real estate finance professionals can be found working in diverse roles and settings, from mortgage brokerages servicing home loans to the commercial banks that serve as portfolio lenders, issuers and servicers of high yield mortgage debt:

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The Kind of Jobs Found in Commercial Real Estate Finance

Portfolio Manager: This position involves supervising client accounts, as well as reviewing and approving remittances, reconciliations and other requests. This position usually requires a bachelor’s degree and five to 10 years of experience in the financial industry. Banks and mortgage companies commonly employ portfolio managers.

Commercial Real Estate Underwriter: The underwriter evaluates the creditworthiness and management capabilities of a borrower/guarantor, the real estate collateral that is intended to secure a proposed loan and the sufficiency of the loan structure for transactions/relationships. Most underwriters have a bachelor’s degree and three to five years’ experience in real estate lending or underwriting. They are employed by banks and mortgage companies.

Investor Services Associate: This professional manages the accuracy and timing of monthly payments/payoffs to be reported and remitted to multiple investors. This job requires extensive knowledge of Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. A bachelor’s degree and three to five years of experience usually are required. Real estate management companies, mortgage companies and banks commonly employ these professionals.

Commercial Property Mortgage Broker: This professional sells commercial mortgages to business owners. Usually, a bachelor’s degree is required to get this job. Real estate finance groups, mortgage companies and banks are the most likely employers for this role.

Commercial Real Estate Loan Officer: This position usually involves soliciting, underwriting, coordinating and managing a company’s commercial real estate portfolio. A bachelor’s degree and four to five years of experience are usually preferred for this job. Banks and mortgage companies usually employ these professionals.

Commercial Mortgage Loan Analyst: This position involves underwriting analysis, as well as reviewing appraisals, reports, surveys, leases and underwriting requests for commercial real estate loans. A bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in commercial real estate finance are required for this position. Mortgage companies and banks are the common employers of this professional.

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The Kind of Jobs Found in Residential Real Estate Finance

Residential Mortgage Loan Officer: This professional is responsible for originating residential loan applications by soliciting them from brokers, builders, for-sale-by-owner, and attorneys. Banks and mortgage companies typically employ them. A bachelor’s degree and one year of experience usually are required.

Residential Mortgage Originator: This position involves performing loan resolution calculations for things such as payoff, escrow analysis and outstanding foreclosure fees. Banks, mortgage companies and asset companies typically employ them. A bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in residential mortgages are required for this position.

Residential Real Estate Analyst: Evaluates residential real estate and determines a property’s fair market value. A bachelor’s degree and one year of experience in residential real estate inspections and/or market evaluations are usually necessary for this position. Banks are the top employer of residential real estate analysts.

Real Estate Loan Underwriter: This position involves performing underwriting analysis on residential mortgage loans and making decisions on such loans. A bachelor’s degree and three years of experience in underwriting and loan processing often are required. Banks and underwriting companies are the leading employers of real estate loan underwriters.

Real Estate Asset Manager: This professional usually manages, maintains, enhances and disposes of real property held in trusts and estates of a bank’s high net worth clients. Property involved could consist of a variety of assets including residential, commercial, raw land, agricultural and industrial. These professionals usually are employed by banks.

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*May 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics job market and salary data for personal financial advisors in real estate is based on national data not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed July 2021.