Real Estate Development Through a 24 Year Old’s Eyes

It takes thick skin, a good attitude, and serious drive to make it in this competitive, multi-billion-dollar market.

by Scott Heath

No two days are alike when you work in the real estate industry.  Filled with the constant rotation of people, places, and projects, these three elements of real estate occupy the hours of a work week. It takes thick skin, a good attitude, and serious drive to make it in this competitive, multi-billion-dollar market.  My name is Scott Heath, and I am the youngest employee at Locale Advisors.


My Role & Responsibilities at Locale Advisors

I hold the position of Acquisition & Development Coordinator.  If the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, I work cross-functionally between departments of our commercial real estate advisory firm.  My workdays are split working alongside Jay Boyle, Vice President of Acquisitions, and Brian Brady, Vice President of Development and Construction.

My work with Jay consists of sourcing new business pursuits (Birddogging), evaluating deals, assisting deal underwriting, meeting with real estate brokers, submitting offers, managing due diligence procedures, and finally supporting all necessary steps in an acquisition or disposition of a property.

On the construction and development side, I work with Brian to facilitate project management activities, support the RFP process,  researching and understanding zoning and land use, assisting with entitlement navigation, and the processing of invoices to ensure that contractors and subcontractors are paid in a timely manner.

Aside from my responsibilities within those two departments, I act as a utility resource to aid the other members of our Locale Advisors team in various real estate development initiatives.


My Experience Pre-Locale

Prior to joining Locale, I catered my entire education towards real estate development, graduating college with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Entrepreneurship, and a minor in Construction Management – Real Property Development. My coursework was comprised of entrepreneurship, finance, real estate development, urban planning, real estate law, construction management, and architecture classes.

During my time pursuing a degree, I worked as an intern for multiple real estate companies in Sacramento.  Initially beginning as a Research Analyst, I would generate quarterly submarket reports and marketing materials.  More recently I interned as an Associate Project Manager for Heller Pacific, working on projects in Sacramento’s vibrant Midtown submarket.


My First Thoughts About the Real Estate Industry

What shocked me the most after joining the workforce as a full-time professional was that I had so much to learn even after dedicating years to studying the industry.  There were a few areas in particular that opened up my eyes to how little I truly knew and understood.  One such area was the complexity of the construction process.

This includes the entire gamut of bidding out work, selecting vendors and contractors, drafting legal contracts and the nuances behind them, knowing what it takes to manage a project, and other administrative variables that you are required to juggle.  I was amazed at how everything could move forward while at the same time there were multiple factors out of my control.

Additionally, underwriting was a part of commercial real estate that I hadn’t had experience with before.  How do you make educated deal assumptions?  What metrics do you use when evaluating a deal?  What are healthy cost assumptions (hard, soft, fees, commissions)?  These are a few of the dozens of questions I asked during my early exposure to underwriting.


My Favorite Part of Real Estate Development

Overall, it is an incredibly exciting industry to me.  I get the opportunity to work on incredible projects with extremely talented and experienced individuals.  In my role, I touch nearly every aspect of the business.  I work with architects, contractors, engineers, marketing agencies, tenants, lawyers, property managers, brokers…you name it!  It gives me a lot of perspective on how many people it takes to make a project a success.

Additionally, I am a competitive person, and there is no shortage of competition in commercial real estate development.  Locale is a new company.  We admit that.  However, the team that we’ve built, our expertise, experience, collaborative culture,  and past successes puts us in the ring with the largest and most experienced development groups.

We are a group of hardworking, knowledgeable business professionals with the desire to be thought leaders in our field. We all strive for a high level of industry recognition, and going head-to-head with larger developers is what keeps us motivated.


My Biggest Challenges in the Industry

The biggest challenge I face is balancing both sides of real estate development (acquisition and construction development).  They fall under the same development umbrella but serve two completely different functions in the development process.  While at times it can be overwhelming, I have the benefit of taking lessons from one and applying it to the other.  For example, while underwriting I can make real hard and soft cost assumptions becasue I have learned and experienced those metrics through my construction and development exposure, many developers are forced to outsource those real cost assumptions.  It provides great insight regarding the necessary steps to successfully develop a property, and make sense of real opportunities.

Another major challenge is being viewed as a legitimate client or investor when competing with the more established professionals.  I’m young and new to the game.  There is no denying that.  People can view this as a negative, but my work ethic and dedication to learning is what will separate me from this assumption, and I realize that these things take time.


The Benefits of Being a Younger Professional in the Industry

Being younger has its challenges, but it also comes with a variety of perks. Not only have I been able to get my foot in the door of a competitive industry relatively early on, but I get to work with and learn from some of the most experienced, talented people I’ve ever met.


My Future in the Industry

I envision myself being a leader in the real estate industry and orchestrating my own development projects.  My ultimate goal is to have a positive impact on San Diego real estate investors and its residents by spearheading development projects that are interesting and benefit society as a whole.


Advice to My Younger Self

Do your best to make up for lack of experience and knowledge with hard work.  You won’t know everything coming fresh out of college.  In the beginning the best you can offer an employer is hard work and dedication.

Take the initiative to learn, be respectful to others, and it will be noticed.  Also, over time you will find mentors.  These seasoned professionals will offer guidance, discuss their experiences of successes and failures, and help you flourish in your career.


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