My First Deal (No. 4): How Joe Stampone Became a Professional Student of the Real Estate Game

This time our, guest post is from the successful investor and real estate blogger, Joe Stampone.  Joe discusses how a family business led him to a career as a real estate entrepreneur.   Here’s his story:

Like many real estate professionals, my initial exposure to the business was through a family member. My Dad, an attorney by trade, and a few partners started buying large tracts of undeveloped land throughout Florida in 2005. They would put in the proper infrastructure, get the entitlement, then flip the land to single-family home developers. It was a great business, until it wasn’t, and in 2008 (after the market crashed) they were left with a lot of value-less land, debt, and personal recourse. Being loosely involved, I learned a lot about the complexity and expertise required to be successful in real estate. It was then that I sought out to become a student of the real estate game.

Breaking into the real estate business was an entirely separate animal. I graduated from undergrad in 2008, a challenging time to enter the real estate profession, to the say the least. Using my friends and family network, I was able to join a family-friend who was doing small scale development projects in a growing neighborhood in downtown Philadelphia. It provided a great ‘hands-on’ exposure to the real estate business, but when the projects dried up, I sought more of an institutional exposure to the real estate business.

I enrolled in NYU Schack’s Masters in Real Estate Program and moved to NYC. I spent my first year taking classes full-time, learning as much as possible, and meeting up with anyone willing to share a few minutes of their time. Through my various networking activities I met with two fellow Tufts alums who were finishing up grad school at Columbia and on the cusp of launching their own firm. I remained in touch with them throughout grad school and when I graduated in May 2011, I joined them as they began to grow Atlas Real Estate Partners. Over the past 5+ years we’ve done 38 deals, totaling over $600M in total deal value. It’s been a wild ride.

Joining a small entrepreneurial shop like Atlas wasn’t my goal entering grad school, but by being open to all opportunities, it turned out to be an amazing chance to join a growing firm on the ground floor. It was the best career decision I ever made. If it didn’t work out, I still would have learned something and been right back to where I was, just a little bit smarter.

When starting your real estate career, don’t get caught up on the brand name firm or your title. Just start. Get your foot in the door somewhere and begin your journey as a student of the real estate game.

If you’d like to know more about Joe and his business, please subscribe to his excellent real estate blog, A Student of the Real Estate Game.

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