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REAL ESTATE Pathways to becoming an Architect & Developer

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Pablo La Torre

New Contributor
Dec 15, 2019
My name is Pablo La Torre, and I have recently graduated from a BSc in Architecture. During my undergraduate studies I have always been interested in Real Estate development because it allows me as an architect to be more in control over a building project; its design, usage, and the profit I would earn, as opposed to a regular architect, however I am aware of the higher risks associated with development. Currently I am going through a transition phase, trying to understand which pathway to take in order to become a successful real estate developer, and taking on some freelancing architecture jobs to keep bread on the table.
To give you a bit of a background as a result of my interest in real estate, I did a couple architectural internships at two different real estate development companies. At the same time I took elective courses on Corporate Finance and Principles of Macro/micro economics in my University in order to understand more about financial, and economic factors that affect the real estate sector. Also I have been reading books on real estate such as "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No Money Down", "ULI Real Estate Development: Principles and Progress" "The Book on Flipping Houses", "How Real Estate Developers Think", and "Architect&Developer". I plan to keep reading other books to keep broadening my basic understanding on real estate development. However, now that I have finished with architecture school, I am not sure which path to take. From my research and advice I have gotten from professors and contacts, I have a couple paths to choose from:
  1. Continuing my architecture education and work experience with developers until I get my architecture license (3-4 years) , and then enter the development game partnering with an investor to either do a residential flip, or a simple single-family house development.
  2. Keep doing architecture freelancing jobs, plus broadening my real estate contacts through real estate clubs, events, meetups, etc. Once I find an investor willing to do a residential flip (I would be doing all the foot-work, managing the flipping process and my partner would only put in the finances) I would reduce my freelancing jobs to focus on the flip, and eventually after gathering some capital and experience I can then go on to make a simple residential development from ground-zero.
  3. Start a Masters in Real Estate Development in order to solidify my knowledge and expand my network while at the same time finding possible investor to do a residential flip, and after gathering capital and experience go on for a residential development.
One factor that I still do not know how to deal with is my architecture license. I am not sure whether for option 2 and 3 I should aim to get my architecture license at some point since I will be acting as the architectural designer for the renovations and developments myself. I am not sure how much not having a license will hinder me as opposed to being licensed, because if paying a licensed architect to sign the drawings is not too much of an obstacle I would prefer to not get my license since the process is very tedious and takes time.
I highly appreciate anyone who would be kind enough to comment on my post, and I thank you very much in advance! :),
Pablo La Torre

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Danny V.

New Contributor
Feb 11, 2014
Miami, Florida
I would do option 1 and 3 at night. You need experience and network from working in the industry. Also, any investor will want to see some track record so easiest is that you worked for a credible group. Don’t be too vocal about your plans while working for someone. Then do the masters but for the sole purpose of finding people in the industry that you can create a friendship for investors. Has to be in class not online. Don’t expect to learn much that which applicable to real life and use ULI for scholarships. Don’t spend too much for this. Go to ULI Young Leader meet ups. The license is not as important as small architects are a dime a dozen. Also get your real estate license. Spend time taking a look at properties and projects in the area your in so when you talk to people, your talking some relative substance and not hot air.
Then go from there.

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