Who is Spencer?

Born and raised in the Northwest United States, Spencer Burton has over 14 years of residential and commercial real estate experience. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas where he works as an Investment Associate for a $40+ billion institutional real estate investor.

Passion
    Knowledge
      Adaptability
        Persistence
          Integrity
            Vision

Questions for Spencer?

Biography

Spencer Burton has over 14 years of real estate experience, both as a fiduciary and as a principal. He is currently a Real Estate Investment Associate for an institutional investment firm in Dallas, TX where he assesses new equity and debt investments for the company’s $40+ billion real estate portfolio.

He started his career as a land broker in the Northwest United States, working with residential and mixed-use developer clients. In 2008, he went to work for a boutique housing development company handling acquisitions, entitlement, and marketing. In 2012 he left to attend the Baker Program in Real Estate at Cornell University. During the summer between his first and second year of graduate studies, Spencer worked as an Acquisitions Associate at USAA Real Estate Company.

Spencer Burton holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with an emphasis in economics from Florida State University and a Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate with a concentration in finance from Cornell University.

For more details, visit my LinkedIn profile here.

Skills

Hard Skills
  • Extensive Acquisition Background
  • Due Diligence Expertise
  • Broad Property Valuation Knowledge
  • Seasoned Negotiator
  • Advanced Excel Proficiency
  • Skillful Presenter – PowerPoint and PREZI
  • Proficiency in ARGUS DCF 15 and ARGUS Enterprise
  • Financial Modeling Experience
  • Experience working in YARDI
  • CRE Credit/Risk Analysis
  • Mediation Specialist Training
Soft Skills
  • Excellent Verbal and Written Communication
  • Team Work and Collaboration
  • Proven Self-Starter
  • Able to Adapt
  • Persistent Problem Solver
  • Perceptive Observer
  • Results Oriented
  • Ability to work well with/lead cross-functional teams

My Blog

Click to visit Spencer Burton’s professional blog, Adventures in CRE:

Spencer’s Real Estate Blog

Job Board for Commercial Real Estate Professionals

Searching for a professional job in commercial real estate is not an easy task. I know from personal experience. I started my career on the residential development side of the business. After 12 years, I decided to return to school to make a transition to the commercial, institutional investment side of the industry.

I was fortunate enough to go to a great school with a strong alumni network and good brand recognition. Nonetheless, I soon discovered – or at least the realization hit me – early in my two-year graduate studies that I was going into a niche field with only a select number of positions available each year. The selective nature of my new-found career path meant that 1) I had to start my job search on day one of my Masters program, and 2) I needed to be made aware of every job available in my niche.

Finding Professional Jobs in CRE

The issue was, there weren’t many good job boards for my niche. I relied on company career pages, my university’s job board, a general job board, and a commercial real estate job board focused on my niche. Unfortunately, all of the options available to me were frustrating for various reasons. Either the board was tedious and cumbersome to use (i.e. poorly designed), not mobile-friendly (i.e. I couldn’t search unless at a computer screen), filled with non-target jobs (i.e. way too many property management and design jobs), or filled with non-salaried or low-paying jobs (i.e. real estate agent jobs).

In the end, I relied heavily on my network, went to every company information sessions on campus, tracked two or three jobs boards daily online, and landed my dream job. But in the process, I came to the conclusion that the professional real estate community needed better.

A Better Way to Source Jobs

So over the last year, Michael (my co-contributor over at AdventuresinCRE.com) and I have been working on a commercial real estate job board targeted at real estate acquisitions, development, asset management, portfolio management, finance, advisory, consulting, and capital raising professionals. We recently wrote a post explaining the what, why, and how of the Adventures in CRE Job Board.

You can read our post here.

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Series on Graduate Real Estate Programs

About six months ago, I set out to research and write six, in-depth profiles on the top graduate real estate programs in the United States. The series is progressing along nicely, and I recently published the fourth profile in the series; this most recent post profiling my alma mater, the Cornell Baker Program in Real Estate.

You can find and read all of the profiles in the series here.

Specifics About the Series

The series seeksto provide a fact-based look at Masters in Real Estate programs in the United States. I start with six of the top programs – Columbia, Cornell, MIT, NYU, John Hopkins, and USC – but hope to expand to include profiles of a majority of the graduate real estate programs available to real estate professionals.

In the profiles, I work to avoid excessive commentary so as to publish a non-biased look at each of the schools. The profiles include specifics about each program’s curriculum, culture, admissions process, social life, career options, and then finish with a Q&A with past and present students of each program. I hope to complete the series by the end of the year.

How You Can Help

I’m not an expert on graduate real estate education in the United States, although I’m fast becoming one! So any help, insight, or feedback you – current or former students of any of the programs in this series – would be welcomed and appreciated. Even if I’ve already completed the profile for your school, anything you could add or update to the existing profiles I’d be grateful for.

Stochastic Modeling Series

I’m working on a new series on probabilistic modeling over at my blog, adventuresincre.com. Real Estate analysis tends to be very two dimensional, where our best guess assumptions are entered into a model and we heavily rely on the one return outputs that come from those assumptions.

Stochastic modeling involves putting variability into a real estate investment’s assumptions, then running thousands of simulations (Monte Carlo) and examining the range and average of the returns from the collective simulations to ascertain not just the return but the risk inherent in the investment.

Two Posts to Kick Off the Series

I’ve started the series by writing two posts on the topic. My first post, entitled How to Run Monte Carlo Simulations in Excel, is a tutorial on how to use Data Tables and probability functions such as the RAND() and RANDBETWEEN()  to run thousands of Monte Carlo simulations. With the results of those simulations, I show how an “Expected Return” is calculated together with the standard deviation and range for the returns.

In my second post, I share an Apartment Acquisition Model with Built-In Monte Carlo Simulation Module that I built to test the concepts. The model is an adaptation of an earlier Apartment Valuation model that I built. It includes a custom Macro that runs 10,000 simulations for both net present value and unleveraged internal rate of return.

Check out the Stochastic Modeling Series

Technical Real Estate Interview

A common a inquiry I receive from readers of my blog, especially from aspiring real estate professionals still in college, relates to real estate technical interviews. They want to know what to expect, and how best to prepare.

This past weekend, I sat down and put together a post – my longest and most comprehensive yet – that addresses these questions. The post includes links to resources, an actual real estate private equity case study, as well as a basic real estate model I built to help practice for the skills portion of the interview. Head on over to the blog, and check it out:

Preparing for the Real Estate Technical Interview

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

The Floating Summary Box

I want to direct you to another blog post I recently wrote. Titled: Real Estate Modeling Tip: The Floating Summary Box, the post highlights a little trick I discovered this week while working on an enormous real estate model in Excel. The tip saves time, looks good, and will make your real estate models even better. Head on over, read the post, watch the accompanying video, and then download a free model with the featured tip included.

Real Estate Modeling Tip: The Floating Summary Box

As always, if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Fundamentals of Real Estate Financial Modeling in Excel

In response to recent inquiries about how to become proficient in real estate modeling, I posted an article on my blog discussing the areas of study that one must undertake to master the skill. These three areas are finance, real estate principles, and Microsoft Excel.

In the post, I link to some great free resources online for studying finance and learning Excel. I also suggest a few options for studying real estate principles, including links to two good books on the subject and a comprehensive list of graduate real estate programs in the United States. Ultimately, my reason for writing the post was to encourage and support others who want to improve their real estate financial modeling skills. Check out the article by clicking the link below, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any comments or questions.

How to Become Proficient in Real Estate Modeling

Four Tier Equity Waterfall Model

When I finished my graduate real estate studies at Cornell, I felt entirely prepared for the new side of real estate I was going into. Nonetheless, there were still areas where I felt weaker than others. Modeling equity waterfall structures was one of those areas. Now don’t misunderstand me. I took classes where we had opportunities to study and model waterfalls, and graduated with a full grasp of the intuition. However, while I understand and could explain the concept, I wasn’t entirely proficient in putting it into an accurate Excel model.

This weekend, I decided to change that. I spent the better part of eight hours reviewing the different types of equity waterfall structures used in the industry, looking through several waterfall models, and ultimately building an equity waterfall model on my own from scratch. I feel pretty good about the final product, and have shared the model at my blog. Feel free to download a copy for yourself if you’d like.

Download Waterfall Model

 

ARGUS Training Resources

Having a working knowledge of ARGUS DCF is crucial to analyzing real estate investments; especially if you are investing in institutional quality real estate assets. Unfortunately, readily available and affordable ARGUS training options are hard to come by. Over at my blog, I’ve posted a few of the resources I’ve used in the past. So, if you’re interested in free ARGUS training resources, go take a look:

Free ARGUS DCF Training Tools

 

Real Estate Careers Series

In my real estate career series, I discuss how real estate as a career is widely misunderstood. To the layperson, real estate means brokering single family homes. But in reality, real estate is so much more. In this four part series, I first look at the different job sectors and property types that real estate professionals work in with. Next, I delve into the large number of business fields (e.g. architecture, brokerage, finance, development, private equity, consulting, etc) that a professional can specialize in. Third, I discuss the different job functions and how the job functions differ depending on the job sector and business field the professional is in. And finally, I take a high level look at compensation in real estate.

This series is not meant to be an exhaustive study of real estate careers, but rather a primer for those considering working in real estate or moving from one real estate business field or job sector to another.

Careers in Real Estate

 

My Excel Real Estate Models Library

Over at my blog, I share a few of the Excel real estate financial models I’ve built over the years. Feel free to use, change, and make the models your own. If you have any questions about any of the models, don’t hesitate to email.

Note: I have not included models I’ve used professionally.

Library of Excel Models

 

Contact

Please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information.

Email: [email protected]

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