Keep updated on Built Environment industry insights and thoughts from UCEM Principal: Ashley Wheaton.
My life in real estate: Guest blog by our real estate programme leader, David Hourihan
Posted on: 1 June, 2020
People often ask me what got me into real estate and, for me, it all began through having a basic interest in residential sales as an 18-year-old.
I had no family background in real estate – my father was a plant engineer and my mother had the unenviable task of looking after three tearaway boys at home!
I was a daydreamer in secondary school and unsurprisingly left with a basic Leaving Certificate (Irish school qualifications, which are similar to English A-levels) as a legacy of my time there so I can relate to people who left school at 16 never wanting to open a book again!
From my initial interest in residential sales, I took on a Diploma in Valuation Surveying & Estate Management at the Limerick Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland.
Going into education at university level was a real eyeopener.
The first six months were very difficult as, unlike school, we weren’t being spoon-fed and you are very much left to your own devices but I loved being able to study independently. When I graduated I was the second-best student in my cohort and gained a Distinction at the end of my three years of study.
Career in Dublin
My diploma enabled me to start a career in Dublin and I worked variously as a graduate surveyor, agency surveyor and commercial director during my decade in the Republic of Ireland’s capital city.
I became a chartered surveyor when I was 24 and enjoyed some great times in Dublin when the real estate market was flourishing but, in the early 2000s, I could see that the ‘Celtic Tiger’ bubble was unsustainable and thought it was time to move on.
Career in London
In the late 1990s, I studied on the MSc Property Investment programme at what was then the College of Estate Management and the postgraduate diploma I gained enabled me to get a job in London and begin my career there.
I worked as a Property Manager variously for Colliers CRE, Nelson Bakewell and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) whilst in the English capital and also worked in Birmingham and Winchester. This period of my career saw me delve into the asset management of regional shopping centres too. It’s been quite the journey, having only had a vague interest in residential sales at 18!
The third stage of my career saw me return to the College of Estate Management (now UCEM) in 2011 to begin my working life in academia. I never saw this coming but it demonstrates how you should never be too narrow in your focus during your career.
For anyone looking to get into real estate, I would say that it’s a surprisingly open industry to get into. You can gain a deeper understanding of how property works which can benefit you personally too.
The sector is extremely broad and varied, and there are great opportunities out there for anyone considering a career in real estate.
MSc Real Estate programme
The MSc Real Estate programme I lead is for people with non-cognate first degrees on diverse subjects such as Criminology, Law, Accountancy and History and, as such, we cater for people with a diverse range of interests.
The programme, which is RICS-accredited, gets students on the pathway to a career in real estate and, in many cases, they go on to become Chartered Surveyors. The programme is very industry-focused and students can readily apply what they learn during their studies to their workplace. The programme is competitively priced and, like all UCEM programmes, delivered online, ensuring flexibility to study around your personal and work commitments.
UCEM’s MSc Real Estate programme is widely recognised by key employers. Students who have completed the programme have successfully gone on to work around the world in the disciplines of valuation, agency (buying/selling/letting), property management, property development, investment management and real estate research analysis.
BSc (Hons) Real Estate Management programme
There are a few reasons why our BSc (Hons) Real Estate Management programme is a market leader.
This programme is led by experienced academics who are chartered surveyors with years of industry experience in real estate. It is a continuously evolving programme which has been designed to capture the dynamic nature of the global real estate markets. We have closely aligned the programme with the RICS professional standards to ensure that our students are eminently prepared for a professional career in real estate as chartered surveyors. There are great networking opportunities available to students on this programme, which may be invaluable in later years as their career develop.
I am very proud and honoured to lead this programme.
I am passionate about the Irish market and this led me to look into the possibility of having our real estate programmes recognised by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) which would ensure our graduates would have a qualification which has value in Ireland, meaning they could be confident of having a fulfilling real estate career in the country. Without the recognition, Irish real estate firms would be less willing to take on our graduates. After months of hard work, the PSRA endorsed our undergraduate and postgraduate real estate programmes which is something I am very proud of.
David has more than 18 years’ industry experience in retail asset management, agency, commercial property management and valuation in the UK and Ireland. He is an APC chairman in the UK for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), as well as being a fellow of RICS and the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Investment Property Forum.