UCLA: Anderson School of Management - Real Estate Club
Alex Valente, President of the Real Estate Club at UCLA: Anderson
Alex Valente was with break-dancing documentary Planet B-boy, LLC, as Associate Producer before joining UCLA: Anderson to do an MBA. He hopes to use this opportunity to transition his career into real estate finance and development. Alex is now president of the Real Estate Club and interned with The Ratkovich Company, which invests in upscale urban developments, over the summer. We caught up with him last week and he told us why he thinks real estate has returned as a viable investment opportunity.
What are you clubs big initiatives this year?
This upcoming year we have an incredible selection of initiatives that will benefit our MBA students. We have our traditional offerings such as our one-on-one real estate Mentorship Program with active Anderson alumni, our Speaker Series, ARGUS & Financial Modeling training, "Dinner-for-Eight's" and "Day-on-the Job" programs.
However, we are also very excited to be able to offer our students, through our close relationship with the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate, a Fellowship Program compliments of an incredibly generous gift from Peter Bren [a US property magnate]. Peter Bren's gift will also establish an entrepreneurial real estate "capstone" course, in addition to the real estate education that Anderson already offers. The course will feature in-person classroom lessons from real estate icons such as Sam Zell and Rick Caruso.
Additionally, we have recently launched a "Real Estate News of the Week Series" to keep our membership updated on current real estate news so our students can be more informed.
And finally, we have begun a "Big Brother / Big Sister" program with UCLA's undergraduate real estate club, the Bruin Real Estate Association (BREA) that will continue to strengthen the ties between all of UCLA's real estate associations including the Real Estate Law Association (RELA) and the Real Estate Alumni Group (REAG).
Who is the most exciting speaker you have had this year?
We are very excited to have Peter Bren come speak to us this October. Peter is the Chairman of the Board and President of KBS Realty Advisors and has been involved exclusively in real estate development, management, acquisition, disposition and financing for more than 40 years. Peter is also President of KBS REIT, a privately-traded Real Estate Investment Trust originated in January 2006 with an offering size of $2 billion and is a former Senior Partner of Lincoln Property Company and President of Lincoln Property Company, Europe.
Peter is also a founding member of The Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA Anderson School of Management and, as I talked about above, recently made an incredible gift to UCLA Anderson that will establish the Peter Bren Initiative for Real Estate Entrepreneurial Studies at UCLA.
What do you hope to achieve from doing an MBA?
I hope to make an incredible and memorable impact on as many peoples' lives and spirits as possible. My MBA education has been everything I hoped it would be thus far because of the people - including students, faculty and alumni - that I have had the chance to work with and learn from. I want to transition my career into real estate finance and development and my MBA from UCLA Anderson has already begun to make that goal a reality.
Given the catastrophic collapse in real estate markets in the US over the last four years, at what point does real estate become a viable investment opportunity?
Real estate is already "back" as a viable investment opportunity, and has been for 12 to 24 months. There has been a clear upswing in some property types, particularly multi-family, and I think at some point home ownership will tick back up as members of my generation get past these economic doldrums and start families, boding well for condo and single-family products.
Industrial valuations and fundamentals have improved in conjunction with rising energy and labor costs worldwide, and many hotel investors took advantage of distressed asset valuations from 2008 to 2010 to gain control of irreplaceable assets at manageable prices.
To what extent does the lack of availability of mortgages reflect a genuine change in the risk profile of borrowers or a risk aversion on the part of lenders?
I think this reflects a "correction" in the market for mortgages that was inevitable given how far the lending standards were relaxed through 2005 and 2006.
However, while many lenders may have tightened their standards in the last three to four years, I think they will gradually be loosened again as the economy picks up and this cycle will continue to repeat itself because money, just like a good corner-back in the NFL, seems to have a very short memory.
What proportion of your students are already invested in the property market?
I really have no idea how many students own homes for themselves and their families. However, of the students interested in real estate, and we had more than 150 members in the Anderson Real Estate Association (AREA) last year, I know of at least 20 or so (or almost 15%) that either own investment property or are actively looking to invest in the property market.
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