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Development Associate – U.S. Development Firm

In this ‘Day in the Life of a Commercial Real Estate Professional’ post, we hear from a Development Associate working out of Midwest where she has been located on and off for seven years. This professional has been kind enough to share what she does on a daily basis as well as discuss what it takes to land a similar position in CRE.

Note: This Day in the Life profile was made possible thanks to the help of Emily White, a Class of 2022 MBA Candidate at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Prior to pursuing her MBA, Emily was a Development Manager for the Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity Housing Corporation. Emily holds a BA in History from the University of South Carolina. A huge thank you to Emily for her contribution!

Day in the Life of a Development Associate

Current Firm

Founded in 2010, Milhaus is an award-winning, mixed-use development, construction, and property management company that specializes in Class A, urban, multifamily residential buildings. With markets in 10 states, Milhaus has developed over $1.5 Billion in projects.

Early Career Path

After earning a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development with a minor in Real Estate Development she continued straight into a Masters of Urban Design before being recruited by Milhaus as a Development Coordinator. She held that job for two years before being promoted to Development Associate.

Typical Week

A Development Associate is typically assigned five to seven projects with two under construction, two in development, and two to three being explored.

When a project is under construction an associate leads on-site meetings, reviews finishes, evaluates market position, formulates beginning of marketing campaign, and prepares to hand the property over to the property management team upon completion.

Projects in development take a majority of an associate’s time which is spent researching the market, underwriting, drafting proformas, leading weekly design meetings and coordinating a team of 10-15 consultants (e.g. attorneys, architects, traffic engineers, structural engineers, construction manager).

A Development Associate typically works with a team of associates and reports to the Vice President of Development for their market. The associate is responsible for keeping the Vice President up to date on current projects and assisting them as needed. Associates typically work 50 hours a week with a flexible schedule and aren’t expected to work nights or weekends except when critical issues must be addressed. Work travel is minimal because associates are placed in the market they work.

Professional Development

Involvement in CRE membership organizations (ex. ULI, NAIOP, CREW, etc.) is invaluable for finding and building great business relationships that can lead to new jobs and/or sites. Depending on the region, one organization may be more active than another so it’s important to do your research before joining to make sure you’ll get maximum benefits. Joining a membership organization is especially important if you move to a market where you have no connections.

About the Professional

Name: Prefer not to say
Location: Midwest
Years in Real Estate: 7
Years in Current Position: 5
Undergraduate Education: B.A. in Urban Planning, Minor in Real Estate Development
Graduate Education: Master in Urban Design
Approx. Annual Income: $75,000 – $100,000
How they found this job: Former classmate who worked at the firm

About the Position

Job Title: Development Associate
Job Type: Development, Project Underwriting
Company Name: Milhaus
Company Type: Development Firm
Property Type: Multifamily
Min. Education Recommended: Masters Degree or Law Degree
Min. Education Required: Bachelors Degree
Min. Experience Recommended: 1-5
Min. Experience Required: None
Advanced Technical Skills Required: MS Excel, CoStar, SketchUp, GIS Websites

Advice for those interested in this position

Successful Traits

Someone successful at Milhaus fits well with in company culture and the team they are assigned to. They are a critical thinker and ask good questions to better understand the big picture and underwrite accurately. They are responsible, willing to learn, and aren’t afraid to follow-up with questions or consultants.


A great developer is always thinking about the big picture and how every little detail impacts the whole. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and poke holes when something doesn’t seem right.

This is one in a growing series of ‘Day in the Life of a Commercial Real Estate Professional’ entries. Read this post, then check out other experiences shared by A.CRE readers.