“Only the foolish learn from experience—the wise learn from the experience of others.” –Rolf Hochhuth, author and playwright
Welcome to the inaugural contribution to the MSB Real Estate blog, a product of the Real Estate and Economic Development program in the University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business. I’m Daniel Thomas, chair of the Merrick School of Business Real Estate Advisory Board and partner in training at St. John Properties—and I love real estate.
If I understand Hochhuth’s quote, the key to wisdom is to pay attention to the experiences of others. At UB we are proud to provide an accessible forum for sharing experiences, in this particular case experiences concerning real estate. All of us involved in guiding the real estate program at UB hope that this blog will be thought of as a valuable resource for asking questions, raising concerns, and resolving issues that impact the world of real estate in the Baltimore market. We hope it will spark discussion, and maybe prompt some of you to do even more. Real estate is an amazing field in which you can really make a mark. I like to say that it gets into your head and your heart.
From my early years I had a feeling that real estate might be for me. I knew about the business of construction, listened to talks about mortgages, saw architecture I liked (and much more that I didn’t). I read every book I could and never missed an opportunity to talk with someone in the industry. But I had difficulty finding an academic program that fully aligned with my passion for my future.
Fortunately for people across this region, it’s easy to start a formal education in real estate, thanks to UB. For some of you, blending your classroom time with an internship or job at a development firm may prove to be a key to your success. (That’s how I entered the profession—alongside earning both an undergraduate and graduate degree in real estate.) Some of you may be out in the sales force and are looking to start your own firm or are forging a pathway to a partnership. Some of you might be focused on the economic development side of the equation. Still others may be interested in the service aspect, that part of the job that involves improving neighborhoods, preserving a community’s strengths, and so on.
Regardless of where you’re coming from, getting an education in real estate will change you. I’m a self-confessed fanatic about this field, and I give all the credit for my success to the great teaching I received along the way.
Real estate is something you can love the same way I do—I like to say that I don’t believe I have worked a day in my life. I hope that I can add some value to your experience as a fellow explorer in this endeavor. We all must remember that our industry is changing. It is complex, and it requires new skills and new knowledge on very nearly a daily basis. Without this foundation, your potential in real estate is limited.
On that note, let me leave you with a challenge: If you’re considering real estate as your profession, think of it as just that: Not just a job, but a profession. Give it that due respect. It will give back to you, I promise.
When it comes to learning, be a sponge. Absorb every particle of knowledge you’re offered. Even if you’re already working in the field, keep on learning. You can rely on this blog, and the University of Baltimore, as a source of academic excellence and practical knowledge.
Check back often. We’ll keep posting, and together we’ll keep learning. Because knowledge is a lot like a blanket: it is best when it’s shared.
Have a great day and a productive week.
Daniel Thomas is a Partner in Training at St. John Properties and Chairman of the Real Estate Advisory Board at University of Baltimore.