Thursday, February 24, 2011

Women in Real Estate

Meet Our Current Students, a continuing series featuring some of our first-year real estate MBA students:

It seems there are more men than women working for the real estate industry. How do women survive under the complex and competitive environment and make some self-achievement? I’ve worked for this industry for seven years before I came to business school for an MBA in real estate, and it had been a question bothering me for a long time. However, with the help and communication of the alumni and the faculty of Graaskamp Center, it seems not so difficult to find an answer.

Last semester, in connection with the Wisconsin Real Estate Biennial Conference, alumni Jill Hatton held a special welcome reception for women in real estate. Jill has worked in various leadership positions in the real estate investment advisory business and is a board member at the University of Wisconsin Foundation. It was the first time I had attended a meeting with so many women in real estate. I talked with several women alumni, and they shared with me their stories of life, career and family. Many of them have a very balanced life, enjoying the career success and family life. The meeting with them led me to redefine success for women in real estate. That is to keep a balance for work and life.

Meeting with alumni Pam Boneham helped me learn more about women in leadership in the real estate industry. Pam is the Managing Director and Portfolio Manager for RREEF Real Estate Investment Management. She shared with us her career development at RREEF. She said there might be more difficulties for women to stand out and take lead. However, women had their own advantages in career advancement. Women are more willing to listen, which puts them at an easier position for communication and get more information. The most important thing is always being confident and sticking to your dream.

I’ve learned a lot and understood more about the industry in the past six months, although I am still looking for the perfect answer. Learning in the business school is helping me to be prepared for the real estate dreams.

Julia Xia is a first-year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. Formerly a real estate consultant and asset manager in Beijing, Julia graduated from Peking University with a bachelor's degree in finance and banking.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scholarship season

It's scholarship season for current students in the Wisconsin School of Business, and Wisconsin Real Estate will make several awards this spring.

Thanks to the generous support of alumni and friends of the Wisconsin Real Estate tradition, we have a number of fellowships and scholarships available to MBA and undergraduate students in real estate. The Department and the Graaskamp Center are proud to distribute a number of scholarship awards to real estate students every year.

Current students should apply before the deadline on March 1, 2011.

Other scholarships and grants are available from the Wisconsin School of Business. A single application enables you to be considered for a wide variety of scholarships for business students. A great resources for students is the university's Scholarships @ UW-Madison website.

Real Estate Research Spans Our Campus

by Stephen Malpezzi, Professor and Lorin and Marjorie Tiefenthaler Distinguished Chair in Real Estate

One of the defining characteristics of the University of Wisconsin is the breadth of scholarship and teaching across the campus. For example, we teach more foreign languages (more than 80!) than any other university in the world. In previous posts, we talked about the new Discovery Institutes, a public-private partnership that brings together researchers from across campus to work on a range of problems such as epigenetics (how genes are activated or inactivated), tissue engineering (using artificial structures called “scaffolds” to grow cells into substitutes for biological material – maybe that piece of my knee I lost in a long-ago basketball game), improvements in therapeutic technologies, the application of recent advances in the mathematics of optimization to biology and medicine, and a broad look at the “systems level” of biological organisms.

The Graaskamp Center and its associated faculty are in the thick of intellectual ferment in our field, both inside and outside the University. Within UW, our faculty have their academic homes in the Wisconsin School of Business, but our faculty also have formal affiliations with other UW organizations, including Economics, Urban and Regional Planning, the Institute for Research on Poverty, World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE), and the Law School, to name a few. In turn, selected faculty from these and other units serve as Faculty Fellows of the Graaskamp Center. Among their many contributions, these colleagues often speak at our events such as the twice-annual meetings of our Board of Advisors and the Wisconsin Real Estate and Economic Outlook Conference.

We’re very fortunate that we can also leverage off each other’s research. Some years ago, Richard Green (then on our faculty) and Michelle White wrote an influential paper “Measuring the Benefits of Homeownership: Effects on Children,” that kicked off a renewed interest among housing economists in the connections between housing markets and social outcomes. More recently, housing economists in the Graaskamp Center have been focused on the connections between unemployment and the economic well-being of families, and our recent problems in the housing market, for example the development of the Wisconsin Foreclosure and Unemployment Relief Plan (WI-FUR).

Thus, we’re very pleased to see a new Wisconsin research initiative on the connections between housing and the long-term health and well-being of children, families and communities from our colleagues at the Institute for Research on Poverty:


Three researchers with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Timothy Smeeding, Lawrence Berger and J. Michael Collins, have received support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to explore the role housing plays in the long-term health and well-being of children, families and communities.

Their main thesis is that income benefit policies are also housing stability policies that help families maintain payments for mortgages and rent and therefore avoid forced housing changes. The goal of their research is to identify the most effective policies for avoiding the negative impacts of housing changes on family well-being.

We’re looking forward to learning from this research as it comes online. Read the full press release from UW-Madison News.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Round 3 MBA application deadline is March 15th

The Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program is accepting applications for the fall 2011 intake. The third round application deadline is March 15, 2011.

If you'd like to learn more about our program, start at our MBA website, then register online here to be added to our mailing list.

And join us on Friday March 4th at 1:00 pm CT for an online chat!

Faculty Associate and Assistant Director for Recruiting Sharon McCabe will share an overview of the program and answer your questions.

Check back for a link to the chat soon!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chicago alumni happy hour

Please join Wisconsin Business Alumni for the annual Chicago Alumni Happy Hour. Network with fellow Business School alumni and cheer on the Badger men's basketball team as they take on the Indiana Hoosiers (game time is 8:00 pm).

Thursday, March 3
7:30 pm
Will's Northwoods Inn
3030 N Racine, Chicago

Thanks to our generous hosts (including a couple of real estate alums), this event is FREE, but registration is required. Click here to register.

A not-so polar plunge for charity

On Saturday, real estate MBA students, along with other Wisconsin MBAs, students, faculty, staff and more, will take "the plunge" into frozen Lake Monona to benefit the Special Olympics of Wisconsin. Temperatures have been unseasonably mild in southern Wisconsin, but it will still be a jump of bravery.

If you'd like to support our students and a great cause, you can pledge here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Student employment outlook improves thanks to real estate career fair

Andrew Brainard, a second-year real estate MBA, reports on the success of last week's real estate career fair. Andrew also served as the career fair coordinator for the UW Real Estate Club.

This year’s Wisconsin Real Estate Club Career Fair, held in Grainger Hall's Plenary Room at the Wisconsin School of Business, was a tremendous success. The fair showed a marked improvement in the employment outlook since the economic collapse of 2007-2008 and a 50% increase in participating employers over the 2010 career fair.

This success is due to largely to the collaborative efforts of the Real Estate Club and the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate to bolster employer attendance and place students in exceptional full-time and internship positions. I had the honor to organize this year’s career fair, with significant support from the 2012 co-career fair coordinators Ben Schmidt (first-year real estate MBA) and Max Sternberg (real estate undergraduate) and the tireless efforts of Center staff members Sharon McCabe, Kris Hammargren, Lee Gottschalk, and Alison Zuba.

Planning began with last year’s coordinator, Dan Lessor (MBA '10), bringing me up to speed on prior attendees and procedures. During the fall semester’s International Real Estate class, undergraduate and MBA students contributed to the planning process by researching and recommending numerous firms that they were personally interested in and believed would be strong additions to the career fair.

After numerous emails and phone calls over the following three months, 22 firms registered for the career fair. These firms included Ridge Property Trust, Equity Office, Ernst & Young, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, L.A. Duesterbeck & Associates, Fiduciary Real Estate Development, Heitman, Green Courte Partners, Waterton Associates, T. Wall Properties, Ventas, Dominium, Duff & Phelps, Gorman & Co., Associated Bank, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, NAI MLG Commercial, Kohl's Department Stores, Inland Companies, JPMorgan Chase, Realogic, and Mortenson Development.

The day’s activities began with our inaugural Real Estate Career Fair Open House in the Graaskamp Center, where employers were able to get refreshments and to network with Real Estate Club officers, Graaskamp Center staff, and real estate faculty. The fair began at 6pm with Real Estate Club members rushing the registration tables, eager to meet with employers and talk about the industry and available jobs. Employers were just as eager to meet with students and find potential candidates for their firms.

Feedback from both employers and students was overwhelmingly positive as there were plenty of candidates to match with a plethora of opportunities. The evening was capped off with a networking reception in the Grainger Hall East Atrium where employers, MBAs and undergrads met to reminisce about their Badger experience, discuss the evening’s event, and of course, talk real estate.

Given this year’s success, the Real Estate Club looks forward to building next year’s event to be on par with pre-recession levels. Please feel free to contact the Center at any time to reserve your space for 2012! I want to thank all who attended, and give a special thanks to all those who assisted me in organizing this wonderful event.

Andrew Brainard is in his second year of the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA program. Most recently, Andrew spent his summer interning in Chicago for RE|SOLUTIONS, a receivership, management and disposition firm, working on asset management and valuations for distressed properties in workout or REO with special servicers and banks. Upon graduation, he plans to focus on commercial real estate investment, primarily in asset management and acquisitions.

Check out our Facebook page for more photos from the fair!

Breaking the cycle in France

Professor François Ortalo-Magné is member of the council of economic advisors to the French ministry in charge of land use and housing policy, among its many mandates (Economic Council for Sustainable Development, Ministry of the Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transports and Housing). At its latest meeting, on Monday February 14th, the council discussed the current taxation of land in France and opportunities to improve the system.

To move the debate forward, Ortalo-Magné presented key ideas from his latest research paper on the political economy of urban growth (pdf download). He and co-author Professor Andrea Prat (London School of Economics) highlight a major flaw in the design of housing policy in many countries including the U.S. and France: “Both countries promote housing affordability for all and homeownership for most. Andrea and I find that these two objectives are not compatible when local voters get to decide on local urban growth, as happens in the U.S. and France,” says Ortalo-Magné.

When homeownership is subsidized, voters are encouraged to own more housing. Because they own more housing, they lose more if local housing supply increases given the same level of demand. Therefore they have an incentive to vote against urban growth. In their research, Ortalo-Magné and Prat demonstrate how vicious cycles may emerge whereby voters invest in housing because they expect the voting process to protect their investment, and they vote to protect their investment because they invested a lot. As a result, a city may remain smaller than what voters would have preferred had they been asked to vote together, before they bought any housing.

To break this cycle, Ortalo-Magné proposes that homeownership subsidies in France be greater in cities that commit to increase local supply. “Short of blocking the latest round of first-time buyer subsidies, introducing a bit of conditionality in the subsidies is a step in the right direction to break the type of vicious cycle Andrea Prat and I identify in our research. Maybe in the future, local communities won’t be eligible for any subsidies unless they also release some supply. That would help!”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

AFIRE warms New York with a stronger U.S. investment outlook

Part of our blog series: Meet Our Current Students, a report from a first-year real estate MBA who attended the meeting with Professor François Ortalo-Magné.

The Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) held their 2011 Winter Conference at the Mandarin Hotel in New York City on February 9th and 10th. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the results of a survey completed by AFIRE members in October 2010, as well as the current state of the international and U.S. real estate markets.

The conference began with a synopsis of the survey results presented by Professor François Ortalo-Magné, chairman of the Department of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics at the Wisconsin School of Business. In the preceding months, I and another first year MBA Real Estate student Chad Broderick assisted Professor Ortalo-Magné with compiling the survey data and creating his presentation and, in return, we had the opportunity to attend the conference. (See also "U.S. Cities Lead Way for Global Foreign Real Estate Investment," Wisconsin Real Estate Viewpoint, 1/5/11. The Graaskamp Center also conducted the survey in 2010.)

The AFIRE conference was attended by approximately 250 people, a majority of whom hold C-level executive positions at commercial real estate companies located throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. A number of attendees were Wisconsin Real Estate alumni who are now working in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad. From a student’s perspective, it was a great opportunity to hear insight in the commercial real estate industry from the players themselves, whether through panel discussions or personal conversations. At first, we were concerned that, as students, it might be difficult to engage these individuals in conversation. However, what we found was the contrary. While it does help to make an effort and be outgoing, several individuals sought us out because they wanted to welcome us, were alumni of the Wisconsin real estate program, or were interested in recruiting Wisconsin students in the future. And the individuals whom we approached were more than happy to answer our questions and tell us more about their company and its focus within the industry.

The night before the AFIRE conference began, the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association’s northeast chapter held a Real Estate Roundtable at the New York Athletic Club with guest speaker Roy March, CEO of real estate investment banking firm Eastdil Secured. After Mr. March’s presentation concerning capital markets in real estate, the 20+ alumni members in attendance were able to network, giving us students a great opportunity to not only learn more about the industry from professionals but use their resources in hopes of landing a summer internship. Because of the strong Wisconsin alumni network, several promising possibilities came out of that night’s event.

It is opportunities like these that I think make a graduate level real estate education at the Wisconsin School of Business so valuable. While the program’s real estate-focused curriculum and excellent, renowned professors are second to none, it is the alumni network, the reach of the department into industry groups like AFIRE and others, and the James A. Graaskamp name that separates the school from its competitors and gives its students an advantage by offering the ability to both learn more about the industry and advance their prospects for post-graduate careers.

Eric Dowling is a first-year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. Eric plans to combine his previous real estate experience with his MBA education to establish a career in private equity investments.

Photo by Thomas Arhelger via stock.xchng

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Be prepared--for the Wisconsin Real Estate Career Fair tonight

The Wisconsin Real Estate Club hosts its career fair tonight in Grainger Hall, and we're expecting a great turnout of employers and students.

Wednesday, February 9th
6-8 pm Expo, Grainger Hall Plenary Room
8-9 pm Reception, Grainger Hall East Atrium

We talked to Sharon McCabe, Graaskamp Center director of MBA recruiting and career services, on what advice she gives to students preparing for the event. Here are her top 10 tips:
  1. Attire: Dress professionally. (That includes clean fingernails and fresh breath!).
  2. Have many copies of your resume, bring a portfolio to hold them. Having your own business card will make you stand out.
  3. Collect business cards from company representatives. Remember to send a thank you e-mail (or hand-written note).
  4. When you get to the fair, start with a walk around the room to get your bearings, see where everyone is located.
  5. Have a story to tell. Practice (out loud) your 30-second elevator speech. Show your passion for real estate. Be confident and friendly. Have a friend ask you questions. Practice! Remember that you want to try to impress every employer, even a company in which you may be less interested.
  6. Listen to what your fellow students are saying. You can learn from them, too.
  7. Research all the companies coming to the fair. Know the basics of what they do. Be prepared to say why you would be an asset to their company.
  8. Check some of the on-line resources for current news about the company:,, Real Estate Investment SmartBrief, etc.
  9. If there is a job description available from the company (company website, BuckyNet, eRecruiting, WREAA website), read it and be prepared to say why you are a good candidate for the position.
  10. Remember that you are selling both your personality and your skills. Some employers care more about your personality (hard-working, passionate, team-player, self-motivated, quick-study, etc) than about your specific skills. If your experience is limited, stress what you have learned in your classes and on Real Estate Club field trips. If you have leadership experience, make sure you mention that.
With these tips and your resume (and business card) in hand, you'll be ready to make the most of the fair. Here are some of the companies registered to attend:

Duff & Phelps
Ernst & Young
Fiduciary Real Estate Development
Gorman & Company
Green Courte Partners
Inland Companies
JP Morgan Chase
Kohl's Department Stores
NAI MLG Commercial
Realogic Analytics
Ridge Property Trust
State of Wisconsin Investment Board
T Wall Properties
Waterton Associates

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reinventing the apartment building

New York magazine this week profiles Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and his group's unusual proposal for a New York apartment building. Read the article here.

The Bjarke Ingels Group or BIG has been in the news lately, opening an office in New York and popping up on The Huffington Post's 10 Best Architecture Moments of 2001-2010. (They also have a fun, interactive website!)

Associate Partner Kai-Uwe Bergmann serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for Wisconsin Real Estate's Global Real Estate Master (GREM), an innovative graduate level double degree program in partnership with three of the world's top business schools. He will be on campus, speaking to the inaugural class of GREM students, at the end of February. We look forward to hearing about this project and more of BIG's activities around the world.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Take the plunge!

From our friends in the Business Career Center comes an update on the Polar Plunge:

On February 19th, the Wisconsin School of Business will be taking the plunge – the Polar Plunge, that is – at Olin Turville Park in Madison. The Polar Plunge is one of the biggest fundraising efforts of the Special Olympics of Wisconsin to raise funds for their events, while honoring this good ‘ol Wisconsin tradition.

Teams of hardy Wisconsin students and staff take part in this event--bravely jumping into the freezing waters of Lake Monona--all for a good cause. Check out this post from last year's plunge. "Chickens" are also welcome (and earn their own "I was Too Chicken to Plunge!" t-shirt).

Interested in signing up to "plunge" for the Wisconsin School of Business? Visit the BCC myBiz blog for more information.

Friday, February 4, 2011

San Diego is the place to be for CREF11

Happening February 6-9 is the Mortgage Bankers Association's Commercial Real Estate Finance/Multifamily Housing Convention & Expo 2011. It's definitely a "must-attend event" for commercial/multifamily finance industry professionals, and Wisconsin Real Estate alumni are always well-represented.

The Graaskamp Center and the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA) are hosting a little networking event for all our Wisconsin family and friends!

When: Monday, February 7, 2011, 5:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.
Where: Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, Room Ford C, Third Level

Attending WREAA members are encouraged to bring a guest. You must attend the MBA CREF conference to attend the reception. The conference badge is required for entry.

To RSVP: Contact Tracy Wundrow (tracy.wundrow at

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow day

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has canceled classes and events for Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. The university plans to resume classes and events on Thursday, Feb. 3.

Campus news reports that crews have begun to "dig out from the crippling winter storm that forced cancellation of classes and events on campus Wednesday, Feb. 2. Overall, authorities reported that the campus was quiet overnight and there are no reports of any problems beyond travel."

For more information on cancellations related to the storm, check this page. And enjoy the snow day!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Round Two Application Deadline for Real Estate MBA is Feb 4th

The application process for the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA is well-underway. The second round deadline is Friday February 4th. Alumni and friends of the program are encouraged to refer candidates to the Graaskamp Center.

For details and other deadlines in applying for the fall 2011 intake, go to

Or contact Sharon McCabe (smccabe at

We look forward to welcoming another great MBA class and future Wisconsin Real Estate alumni!

WREAA Minnesota Region: Block E Presentation & Happy Hour

Please join the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA) for a presentation by Phillip Jaffe from Alatus LLC on his firm’s July 2010 acquisition of the Block E entertainment complex located in the Minneapolis central business district. Block E includes 213,000 square feet of space as well as 550 underground parking spaces. The project was originally developed in 2001 and included a substantial investment by the City of Minneapolis. The area has undergone significant changes with the opening of the new Twins Stadium.

Block E is the name of a block in downtown Minneapolis bounded by Hennepin Avenue, 6th Street, 7th Street, and 1st Avenue North. It is part of the Downtown West neighborhood in Minneapolis. It is one block south of the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue light rail station on the Hiawatha Line. (Wikipedia)

When: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 3:00 PM

Where: Kieran's Pub (located within Block E)
601 1st Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Free for 2011 WREAA Members
$30 for Non-Members
Includes Presentation, Happy Hour & Appetizers

To RSVP: Contact Tracy Wundrow (