Last November,five of my fellow Kenan-Flagler classmates and I competed in the annual National Real Estate Challenge at the University of Texas in Austin. The case, written and organized by a team from J.P. Morgan’s asset management team, was a mock investment committee pitch based on a real life scenario the J.P. Morgan group had encountered earlier in the year. The seventeen participating teams, all from top 25 MBA programs, were asked to evaluate a portfolio of office properties (owned by a J.P. Morgan fund) and determine which properties should be kept, which should be sold, and how to execute the transaction to maximize investor value. The group of judges, several of whom were from J.P. Morgan, was made up of twenty prominent real estate executives from around the country.
The case forced the teams to consider aspects like fund strategy and investment criteria, JV structures, debt term sheets, valuation methods, rent rolls, and forward-looking market conditions to name a few. The final four teams, which consisted of UNC, University of California at Berkley, University of Virginia, and University of Michigan, presented in front of an audience of approximately 250 people. It was particularly gratifying to have four public schools in the finals, despite having Duke, University of Chicago, Northwestern, and nearly every Ivy League program represented at the competition.