Kirk Helgeson is the Chief Investment Officer at American Realty Advisors.
Mr. Helgeson got started in the real estate industry with an internship at a valuation and consulting firm based in San Francisco between his Junior and Senior years at USC, where he was enrolled in the Marshall School pursuing a major in Business and an emphasis in real estate finance. He knew he wanted to work within the commercial real estate investment field at some point, and saw real estate appraisal as a good way to enter the industry and learn the fundamentals of real estate valuations through the disciplined approach the appraisal process follows.
After graduation from USC, he worked at Eichel Inc. as an appraiser for several years before moving on to AFP Properties USA for his first investment job, where he was an acquisition officer. His work experience then helped him transition to American Realty Advisors, where he has been for the last 20 years.
The advice Mr. Helgeson shared for current students was to focus on a first job that is going to put you in a position to learn from smart people, that will teach you early on the fundamentals of real estate and allow you to build a foundation of knowledge you will use to advance your career. Real estate, unlike many industries, is extremely experiential and an industry you learn by doing.
For commercial real estate, knowing Argus is an important skill used across many of the disciplines within real estate including acquisitions, lending, asset management, and portfolio management. He also suggested getting involved in organizations like ULI, PREA, and NAIOP to help students gain a better understanding of the industry, and use this for networking to learn more about potential real estate opportunities.
Lastly, Mr. Helgeson said to focus on doing things the right way through hard work early in your career. With the right experiences and practical application, you will become more resourceful and a value add to organizations.