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2021 AREIT Team Presents Its Strategy to Alumni and Board Members at Biennial Wisconsin Real Estate Conference

By Wisconsin School of Business

September 29, 2021

A network of real estate icons and images with a hand selecting one of the network lines

On October 23, 2021, the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association hosted its Biennial Real Estate Conference at the Edgewater Hotel and the Memorial Union in Madison. This event brought together over 400 Real Estate Badgers to rekindle relationships, network and attend a variety of fun and informative events.  

At this year’s conference, alumni had the unique opportunity to participate in the Fall Board Meeting for the Graaskamp Center’s Applied Real Estate Investment Track (AREIT) where a team of six students pitches its investment strategies, macro-economic outlook and performance goals to the AREIT Board, which consists of veteran REIT investment professionals.  The team must get approval on its strategy at the Fall meeting and the students will continue to receive advice and support from the Board throughout the year.

AREIT is a one-of-a-kind program in which the graduate students have the opportunity to manage program’s Isthmus Fund, a multi-million-dollar fund of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), public securities comprised of commercial real estate assets.  The program is led by Tim Pire, who previously spent 24 years as Managing Director and Portfolio Manager for Heitman’s public real estate securities group.  The team reports to Tim on a weekly-basis. This year’s AREIT program consists of one team of six MS Real Estate students, Chris Arrieta, Yingran Chen, Seth Hirsch, Jack Norkett, Carina Qi, and Chris Thomsen. 

Each year the AREIT team’s primary goal is to outperform a benchmark index, with this year’s team setting out to beat the index by at least 165 basis points, which is considered to be in the top quartile performers in comparison to previous teams returns. 

The 2021-22 AREIT Teams’ Strategy

The AREIT team pitched what they described as a “blended growth – value approach.” Their process took into consideration the qualitative performance of each REIT sector, the macroeconomic environment they are predicting throughout their investment window, and the reaction of each sector to COVID over the past year. Through these filters, the team believes they have created a framework that will identify investments with attractive expected growth and at a worthwhile value that will result in achieving their goal of outperforming the MSCI US REIT Index (RMZ). 

In addition to taking into consideration the macroeconomic and COVID environments, the team is also researching geographic and property type trends that they foresee impacting the industry. On top of their philosophy, strategy, and process, the team sought approval for their decision to hold the portfolio at 80% VNQ and 20% cash and draw the cash for investments first due to their optimistic belief in REITs overall performance within their investment window, as described in their commercial real estate outlook.

A group of people presenting at a podium

Throughout the remainder of the semester, the team will pitch potential stocks to Tim Pire for approval and investment. The team will monitor the performance of the REIT industry, and connect with board members, sell side analysts, and company contacts to continue to learn and gain insight on their positions. The team will also run weekly attribution analysis to judge their performance and adapt their portfolio as needed. Through their stock pitches during semester, they plan to be fully invested prior to the Winter board meeting in January of 2022. The team will continue to monitor these selections throughout the spring semester. 

Similar to last year, this year’s AREIT team will attend the NAREIT REIT World Conference remotely, and participate in a study tour to Chicago to meet with REIT professionals and portfolio managers as they continue to expand their commercial real estate and REIT knowledge.  

We want to thank the AREIT Board Members for their time, advice and support of the AREIT Program.

  • Joseph Betlej, Investment Officer, Real Estate, Advantus Capital Management
  • Michael Brennan, Irgens Executive Director/Managing; Principal, Brennan Investment Group
  • Steven  Buller, Portfolio Manager, Fidelity Management and Research Company
  • Michael Casey, Senior Managing Director, The Blackstone Group
  • Lee Christensen, Development Manager , Gebhardt Development
  • Randall Eggert, Senior Investment Officer, 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, VP Investor Relations, Corporate Office Properties Trust
  • Chad Neumann, Senior Portfolio Manager, State of Wisconsin Investment Board
  • Seth Singerman, President and Managing Partner, Singerman Real Estate, LLC
  • Kenneth Statz, Managing Director, Security Capital Research Management
  • Bob Thomas, Managing Director, Co-Head of the Americas, RREEF Management L.L.C.
  • David Toti, (former) Managing Director, BB&T Capital Markets