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A Day of Learning: MSRED Style

By: R. Matthew Wallace

As a current and continuing student in the MSRED program, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of co-sponsored alumni events.  One of the main annual events organized by the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) in conjunction with the AACRE , the CRE’s alumni association, is the Alumni Back-to-School conference in New York City.  The event provides a great opportunity to hear from the faculty about their cutting edge research, and from alumni and other industry leaders on the current market and trends in real estate. In addition,  the event provides a great setting to catch up with former classmates and other alumni.  This year the event was held in shell space on the 37th floor at Boston Properties 250 West 55th Street, NY near Central Park.

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The event began at noon with Professor Bill Wheaton, one of the founding fathers of the field of urban economics, providing a thought-provoking key note presentation on the spatial structure of global cities.

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Next, alumni Bill Gietema, Shwetha Subramanian , and Steve Weikal  gave panel case study presentations on successful residential developments across various typologies.

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After a brief networking break, Bob White, founder and president of Real Capital Analytics provided an engaging presentation on the current market capital flows for real estate worldwide.  Professor David Geltner  then presented his cutting-edge Joint Venture Splits Fairness Framework which was discussed by Chuck Burd, CIO, Bentall Kennedy U.S;  Peter Madden ’95, Director-Americas Real Estate APG Asset Management US; and John Jacobsson, Executive Vice President, The Related Companies.

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Bonnie Burgett’13, co-founder of Sourced Capital, led off a panel discussion on the emerging trend of crowdfunding in real estate deals.

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Panel member Rodrigo Nino gave a riveting and impactful presentation about the history of crowdfunding in Colombia and what that could mean to the U.S. market.  Rodrigo shared compelling insight that crowdfunding has existed for much longer period of time in Colombia than in the U.S.  In the U.S., crowdfunding has historically been limited due to the Securities Act of 1933 implemented as a result of the Great Depression.  The JOBS Act of 2013 has since substantially loosened restrictions to permit crowdfunding on a much larger scale.  Meanwhile in Colombia, crowdfunding has naturally been an integral part of the country’s real estate development due to the absence of government regulation.  Laura Gaviria-Halaby  followed Rodrigo and presented her venture to utilize a crowdfunding platform to enable greater housing options and thus greater potential employment opportunities for Colombia’s low income individuals.
An insight I took away from the panel, is that crowdfunding could be a tool utilized by developers to gain support for a project by providing the opportunity for those in the community to  invest in the project.

The crowdsourcing panel was then followed by a very engaging presentation and discussion of the hostile takeover of Commonwealth REIT by two of the key players, Paul White and Eduardo Gallardo.  The formal program wrapped up with a presentation of the Spaulding Award to alumni Catherine Polleys (’97) and Mark Robert (’94) for their contributions to the development of the NCREIF Open-End Diversified Core Equity Index (NFI-ODCE).

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An incredible day of learning ended with a cocktails and networking with other students, alumni, and industry leaders looking out on Central Park and the Manhattan nighttime skyline.

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