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The 2023-24 Real Estate Markets Offered a Great Learning Opportunities to AREIT Students

By Wisconsin School of Business

May 13, 2024

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Another exciting year for Applied Real Estate Investment Track (AREIT) has wrapped up!  AREIT is the first graduate program of its kind in the country and offers Wisconsin Real Estate graduate students the opportunity to work together in teams to manage a live $1.6 million portfolio of real estate investment trusts (REITs). Students are advised by the Isthmus Fund Board of Advisors which is comprised of senior-level REIT investment professionals who create a realistic environment and experience of the demanding client-manager relationship. Students get the unique opportunity to manage a live portfolio of investments in public securities, and receive advice and support from the Board throughout the year.

Due to the large Real Estate graduate student enrollment, there were two AREIT teams — Red and White.  The Red team had five team members and the White team six team members.  Both teams managed a live portfolio of REIT stocks valued at roughly $900,000 in each portfolio.  Each team was responsible for:

  • Create an economic and real estate outlook.
  • Research and develop strategy for each property sector.
  • Create a philosophy, process and strategy and present it to the AREIT Board.
  • After getting the Board’s approval, each team is responsible for researching, valuing and pitching investment ideas and REIT stocks several times a week to AREIT Advisor Tim Pire and AREIT board members for evaluation and, possibly, investment.
  • Follow companies’ portfolios and recommend changes to portfolio holdings.
  • Manage portfolio and devise their investment philosophy, process, and strategy for the upcoming investment period.

The year was an interesting year for a number of reasons.  First, the REIT market was the tale of two different markets.  The fall of 2023 was driven by expectations of the Federal Reserve cutting rates and a rally in REIT stocks (+12.9%).  The winter and spring were dominated by sluggish inflation numbers resulting in upward pressure on 10-year treasury resulting in sell off in REIT market (-8.0%).  It was a great learning experience for students! 

Second, the students had to contend with two earnings seasons where companies missed/met/beat expectations which influenced expectations and valuations.  Finally, the students navigated through a changing real estate market through evaluating new information on the transaction market and changes to supply/demand dynamics in various property types and markets.

As always, the AREIT Board was provided helpful guidance and advice to students.  Board members attended three scheduled meetings with students and also had weekly calls the teams.  On the weekly calls, board members would meet with students to discuss a specific topic, such as update on commercial real estate debt markets.  The Board members would also discuss their individual career path and provide input/advice for student on their careers.

In addition to portfolio management, the teams traveled to attend NAREIT’s REITworld conference in Los Angeles in mid-November. These experiences offered a unique learning opportunity and the opportunity for students to correspond and interact with top REIT executives and investors.

We want to thank you to the Isthmus Fund Board of Advisors for sharing their time and expertise with our students! We couldn’t offer this unique program without you.

  • Joseph Betlej
  • Steven Buller, Portfolio Manager, Fidelity Management and Research Company
  • Michael Casey, Senior Managing Director, The Blackstone Group
  • Lee Christensen, Development Manager, Gebhardt Development
  • James Laufenberg, State of Wisconsin Investment Board
  • Brandon Goetzman, Senior Vice President, Blue Vista Capital Management, LLC
  • Mike Grupe, EVP, Research & Investment Affairs, NAREIT
  • Stephanie Krewson-Kelly, SVP, Sun Communities, Inc.
  • Chad Neumann, Senior Portfolio Manager, State of Wisconsin Investment Board
  • Seth Singerman, President and Managing Partner, Singerman Real Estate, LLC
  • Kenneth Statz
  • David Toti, Senior REIT Research Analyst, Colliers Securities
  • Jay Rosenburg, Head of Real Estate Assets, Nuveen Real Estate
  • Matt Wokasch, Senior Director, Nuveen Real Estate
  • Jon Cheigh, Chief Investment Officer, Cohen & Steers
  • Jonathan Brown, Senior Client Executive, JP Morgan Chase
Buildings with stock ticker