Meet The Next Generation of Leaders in MAREJ's 30 Under 30
Douglas Sitt | Co-Head of Student Housing | Rittenhouse Realty Advisors,
a member of GREA
Years with company/firm: 2 years
Years in field: 6 years
Years in real estate industry:6 years
Real estate organizations/affiliations: Real Estate Licenses in PA and NY
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
My greatest professional accomplishment has been growing RRA/GREA’s student housing division from a boutique northeast student housing investment sales firm to a leader in the industry with a national presence, alongside an amazing team. Since joining RRA/GREA we have completed hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of student housing transactions and are quickly becoming one of the leaders in the student housing investment sales industry nationwide.
What is your most notable project, deal or transaction?
One of the most notable transactions was the Campus Hill portfolio in Syracuse. We recently sold this portfolio for $65 Million. This was a scattered site portfolio that consisted of 51 buildings and single-family homes. On this deal we met with a family office based out of Los Angles, while traveling for a business conference and they told us their acquisitions criteria. As soon as we got back, we put pen to paper and got them an off-market look at this Syracuse portfolio. They quickly jumped on the portfolio. This is a prime example of how listening to a firms’ investment thesis allows us to connect the correct pieces to successfully close transactions.
How do you contribute to your company and/or the industry?
I contribute to RRA and the student housing industry by exclusively focusing on student housing and staying knowledgeable about the student housing space. I work diligently to learn and be an expert in the student housing sector.
My background is the principal side of investing in student housing, so I’m able to communicate and work with other student housing investment firms and think through student housing assets in a similar way. Speaking the same language really helps in connecting and working with these groups.
Who or what has been the strongest influence in your career?
Mentorship from my dad and Ken Wellar. I learned and continue to learn the student housing business from my father. He is an incredible mentor.
Ken has also been an amazing mentor to me. He has taught me the brokerage business and the value of a strong work ethic. I am very fortunate to work alongside and learn from both my dad and Ken.
What unique qualities and or personality trait do you feel makes you most successful in your profession?
I believe my ability to be personable and explain discussion points in a well-constructed manner allows me to be successful in this field. This allows me to build strong relationships with my colleagues and personal connections.
What challenges and or obstacles do you feel you needed to overcome to become as successful as you are today?
One of the obstacles I faced was gaining confidence that I could grow to be a leader and learning to be the lead on deals. At first it was a challenge because my background was on the investment side, and I didn’t know how I was going to source business on the brokerage side. However, training under Ken’s wing gave me the ability to grow my confidence and knowledge of the brokerage business.
What was the most defining moment for you?
Early in 2021, when I was able to source multiple deals for many of our student housing investors. This is when things began to take off for our student housing division because I finally had the confidence to tackle any challenge that came my way.
Who do you feel was most influential in your life when choosing this profession?
What impact has social media/networking had on your career?
Social media and networking helped us grow RRA/GREA’s student housing national platform. Once we were able to complete a few national deals with some national press other deals came our way based on our previous success. Networking and constantly staying in touch with groups has played pivotal role in our success.
Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in, about your current position and why you choose the field/profession you are in today?
I began my career working for Vesper Holdings. While at Vesper Holdings, I learned the student housing business and the key metrics that investors look for in new acquisitions. Today, I Co-Head RRA’s student housing platform and use my experience every day to communicate with my clients on their needs. I chose this field because I love the real estate business and view it is playing sports. Your deal count is like a scoreboard and the more deals you do the more points you have.
What were some of your early goals and did anything happen to change them?
My recent goals were to become a leader in the student housing investment sales industry and those goals are coming to fruition. My earlier goals were to be on the principal side of investing, however, I came to love the brokerage business. The brokerage world provides me the opportunity to be part of multiple transactions as I get the chance to be part of many transactions and don’t have to spend as much time on one deal.
What is the funniest, most unique situation you have faced/conquered during your career? Or in your life?
I would have to say my business career. I had to adjust to traveling to a lof of conferences, working hard in and out every day, building relationships in the evenings and waking up the next day to do it all over again. Doing this alongside someone like Ken who you can laugh with and work hard with makes this job fun!
What outside activities do you enjoy during you free time?
Tennis, hiking, running and walking with friends. I love people, so I really enjoy social activities with friends, family and new people to meet..
What inspiring word of advice would you give to a young executive graduating from college?
It’s hard to choose something and tough to know what you will like. You just have to dive into something and adjust as necessary. I never thought I would love the brokerage business this much, however, I wake up every day with more on my plate than I think I could handle but I love the challenge and the thrill of making deals happen. I always think of it as playing sports, hopefully I can continue scoring points and getting deals done!