Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Union South gets it right

That's what the Isthmus had to say about the new Union South student center which opened this month.
Union South is now a warm, sophisticated, grown-up facility -- but it still has a sense of fun.
Isthmus, 4/21/11
The new building, located on the same site as the previous structure, includes many features and green building techniques, all within the project's guiding principle: "Preserving the past. Building the future." The project has been five years in the making, starting in 2006 when students voted to build the new and improved space which includes dining, recreation, event spaces, a hotel, and more.

The $94.8 million project, designed by Workshop Architects and Moody Nolan and constructed by CG Schmidt, includes 276,664 total sq. ft. Funding came from student fees, donor support, and Union operating revenue.

Doors opened at the new facility on April 15, 2011, accompanied by lots of buzz around campus, most notably surrounding the new tall union chairs. The A/V Club-Madison took a special advance tour and called it, "$95 million worth of fun."

The new building also has a new website. In addition to news and information, it also includes floor plans, newsletters and videos during construction, and other details. Check it out online, but better yet, check it out in person!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The state of the housing market

"There are signs that the two-year drop in Wisconsin home prices had bottomed out, at least in some regions of the state."

That was one of the takeaways from yesterday's Newsmakers interview on the WisconsinEye Network with Stephen Malpezzi, professor with Wisconsin's Real Estate Program and recognized expert on housing and urban development, and Bill Malkasian, president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association. They also discussed current housing inventory and the advantages offered by continued low interest rates to potential home buyers. Visit to watch video of the interview.

Malpezzi also joined a panel last Thursday on KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio to discuss the role of government in the housing market. He, along with European real estate expert Dr. Joaquin Jorge Piserra Ribera and Vancouver Sun Editor Fiona Anderson, tackled questions including: Should the United States change the way it finances real estate? How do other countries do it? Would changing the government's role in the housing market affect the way we think about houses? Visit to listen to audio of the broadcast.

The housing market and the regional economic outlook will be central topics at the Graaskamp Center's annual June conference.

The 2011 Wisconsin Real Estate and Economic Outlook Conference on June 9th in Madison will feature keynote presentations from Elizabeth Warren, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Governor Scott Walker.

This conference will explore how the new regulatory landscape will affect the size and scope of activity in the real estate and financial services industries. How will the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection affect how real estate and finance professionals do transactions? How will new rules support buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers? How will the proposed replacement of Fannie and Freddie affect the cost of and access to mortgage credit, and what might the secondary mortgage market of the future look like? Join this important conversation. Click to view the agenda and to register.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sixth annual MIPIM trip brings optimism and global connections to students

At the 2011 MIPIM conference, Professor Francois Ortalo-Magné spoke about the sun rising after the global financial crisis that rocked so many countries. This year, it was high noon and time to begin feeling optimistic about the markets again.

In March, eleven first-year real estate MBA students from the Graaskamp Center accompanied Ortalo-Magné to Cannes, France to attend MIPIM, the largest real estate conference in Europe with over 18,000 attendees. This was the sixth consecutive year that the Graaskamp Center sent its students to this global gathering of real estate professionals and public sector leaders.

The students quickly immersed themselves in the many learning and networking opportunities at MIPIM. They attended each of the thirty-nine panel discussions and presentations that were held throughout the week to both contribute to the Wisconsin Viewpoint and MIPIM World blogs covering the event and administer the annual survey to MIPIM participants in order to gauge perception of today's markets.

"More than anything else, I was struck by how the event provided a personal touchpoint to events that I otherwise only read about in the media," said first-year MBA student Ben Schmidt. "For example, though it doesn't get the most attention in the US, it's no secret that Russia and Turkey have both experienced strong economies in the past few years. It was no coincidence then that those countries' exhibitions at MIPIM were among the grandest."

The strength of the investment markets in Russia and Turkey were topics of the first day of MIPIM, as well as China and Poland. The day led off, however, with London Mayor Boris Johnson's keynote address on his "City of Regeneration," including details about the upcoming 2012 Olympics.

Students enjoyed some unique opportunities, including the chance to attend the Mayor's Summit, a closed-door event where mayors and city leaders share their experiences, ideas and best practices related to sustainable urban strategy, and networking with industry leaders. Ortalo-Magné also arranged for small-group meetings with professionals from Real Capital Analytics, SEB Asset Management, Allianz Real Estate, the Bjarke Ingels Group, and others. These meetings gave the students the opportunity to learn about the firms' experience and strategy and to get the kind of insights you won't read in the press or hear on a conference panel.

"I learned a lot from talking with these high-level global real estate professionals," said Julia Xia, a first-year MBA student. "We also attended private events hosted by various real estate firms which helped us to expand our professional connections. Through these networking opportunities, I was fortunate to line up some interviews for potential internships."

Ortalo-Magné once again delivered the final wrap-up presentation (video + slides) with senior analyst Philippe Tannenbaum with IEIF (France). He noted that attendees left MIPIM 2011 feeling more optimistic than when they arrived. Breaking the data down along public/private sector lines, about a third of the private sector and over half of the public sector representatives said their experience at MIPIM had changed their outlook for the better. While Tannenbaum observed the key words for 2011 were "risk aversion," the survey results suggested MIPIM participants were ready to explore beyond the core or safe markets.

"I was struck by the optimism of the conference," said Schmidt. "The survey we conducted for Professor Ortalo-Magné certainly bore this out: investors and professionals have seen their business solidify in the past year, and they are excited to look for new opportunities in the coming year."

For detailed coverage of all the MIPIM sessions, read more on the Wisconsin Real Estate Viewpoint. For more news and events from the Graaskamp Center, sign up for our monthly newsletter (via Constant Contact). Read the April 2011 issue here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Some Thoughts on Internship Seeking

Some of our first-year real estate MBA students share their impressions and experiences in our blog series Meet Our Current Students:

The spring semester has passed the halfway mark, and we are now busy seeking an internship besides continuing to work hard for our classes. Here I want to share some thoughts on getting prepared for an internship and summarize the resources we have as MBA students in Graaskamp Center.

Get polished. A polished resume is an essential first step. Graaskamp Center Assistant Director Sharon McCabe is a good resource that we can use. She went through my resume, helped me reorganize it and stimulated me in bringing out the shining points of my work experience. My mentor (an alum of the real estate program) was also very helpful to give me some good suggestions from the perspective of practical world. What’s more, I also talked with my communication coach from the School of Business about how to write a good cover letter. All together students are well prepared for the document work.

Start early. From the first day I joined the school, we were taught networking skills, and I believe that we should practice those skills and keep them in mind to find a good internship. The MBA eRecruiting Center, an online job placement tool, often has internship opportunities, even as early as the first semester. We can also broaden our search to the websites of companies we are interested in. Some large financial institutions start recruiting summer intern early in fall, and their deadlines are often end of November or December. So I think it’s a good idea to keep tracking the targeting company’s website and find out any updates on internship opportunities.

Reach out. The Graaskamp Center has all kinds of events that offer good chances to get connections and to find an internship opportunity. Last year I got to know an alumni whose company is enlarging its business in China. The alumni forwarded my resume to the company, and the company showed strong interest. Although it turned out they hired someone full-time instead, my resume was kept for future consideration. It never hurts to reach out and ask whether there is any opportunity.

It’s not easy to find a good internship, especially for an international student like me. But I will keep trying. I’ve learned a lot and will be learning so many more things talking with different professionals in the industry. I wish everybody good luck in seeking an internship.

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.