On November 15, 2018 six second-year Wisconsin MBAs had the opportunity to participate in the UT-Austin National Challenge real estate case competition. The Challenge is one of few graduate-level competitions that brings the nation’s top real estate programs together to learn, compete, and network at a world-class venue.
This year’s competition included twenty teams representing top-ranked universities from around the country. Each team included four to six students who were provided the case on a Thursday afternoon and had three days to develop a solution to the challenge posed in the case. Faculty guidance is encouraged prior to the case distribution but is prohibited thereafter.
About the Case
This year, the case was loosely based upon a real investment challenge faced by one of the world’s largest real estate investment managers. Each team was to assume the role of a consultant for a private equity real estate investment fund. The fund had a high-quality office building and hired the consultant to help them decide what to do with it. There were four possible options i) sell it and return the capital to investors, ii) sell it and invest in a new development, iii) hold the asset with the existing financing, or iv) refinance. Based on a set of assumptions, each team was to advocate for a particular position and justify it using qualitative and quantitative methods.
After three long days and nights, the team had developed their proposed solution and the twenty-minute presentation they would deliver later that week to the judges—real estate investment professionals—at UT-Austin. On Wednesday, they flew to Austin to present their case.
The team attended a networking event and dinner with the other teams after arriving in Austin on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the teams gathered back at the McCombs School of Business for a group breakfast. For the first of two rounds, there were four rooms reserved for the team presentations with five groups scheduled to present to the judges in each room. The top group from each room would advance to the final round at noon.
UW did not make the final round but did stick around to network with the other teams and view the final presentations. Overall, the team, which included Brian Cleary, Marcus Zhang, Scott Furlaud, Justin Kremers, Joel Schneider, and Tyler Lynch, viewed the competition as a wonderful opportunity to apply what they learned in the classroom to an actual real estate investment case.