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B-Schools Add Real Estate Programs To Portfolios As Recruitment Builds

Real estate MBA programs are going through the roof — the result of a buoyant commercial property jobs market approaching pre-crisis levels.

Wed May 13 2015

Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business in Washington became the latest top management school to build up its real estate portfolio — a new property centre will compete with those in the US including at Columbia, Wharton, Rutgers and Mays.

Georgetown will bolster its suite of real estate courses with a focus on practicality and globalization. Georgetown MBA students have already worked with Invesco, the investment manager, to underwrite more than $1 billion in live real estate transactions.

MBAs will also have full access to a building near Georgetown’s campus owned by New York-based property investor JOSS Realty Partners, to work on valuation and revenue maximization projects, among others.

Matthew Cypher, Georgetown professor of real estate who will lead the centre, said that the institute will be unmatched in developing future industry leaders.

Georgetown’s Steers Center for Global Real Estate was funded with a $5 million donation from Robert Steers, an alumnus and CEO of Cohen & Steers, the NYSE-listed real estate investment manager, which in April had $53.5 billion in assets under management, and his wife Lauren.

The Steers Center is an update for the previous centre known as the Real Estate Finance Initiative, which was also founded with a $5 million donation from Robert. “It was important to me to see Georgetown McDonough create a formal real estate centre with the financing to be permanent, and to think and plan strategically,” he said.

The real estate market has grown in importance over the past decade — a better understanding of real estate finance has become an economic necessity, Georgetown said.

Oxford’s Saïd Business School in the UK announced plans this year to launch a real estate program for executives in June. The Oxford Real Estate Program will focus on issues including technology, urbanization, liquidity, and changing occupier preferences.

Oxford’s program will feature case studies and discussions presented by high-profile industry figures — among them will be Yair Ginor, partner at real estate developer Lipton Rogers, and Peter Freeman of Argent, the developer of King’s Cross in London.

Real estate has already been offered as an elective within Saïd Business School’s MBA for a number of years, said Steve Brewster, business development manager for executive education.

Over the past few years the University of Miami, the University of Colorado and Rutgers Business School have all launched MBA tracks or programs in real estate management.

Growth in career opportunity has been a driver. Jobs in real estate grew by 23% in 2014, according to research by Cornell University and the SelectLeaders Real Estate Job Network, an online recruitment network.

“We have a number of alumni who have been through the MBA over the last decade or so who are now working in real estate sector. We are seeing a growth there,” said Oxford’s Steve, speaking to BusinessBecause.

The business school in March hosted an international real estate conference that drew the likes of CBRE Global Investors, the world’s largest commercial real estate firm, and property investment manager Redevco.

The low interest rate environment and a flush of capital from quantitative easing have pushed investors to find new sources of yield. Real estate has been one of the big winners.

David Funk, director of the Baker Program in Real Estate at Cornell University, said indicators last year suggested real estate job opportunities were back to the levels last seen in 2007.

Mat Oakley, head of European commercial research at Savills, the publicly listed real estate services company, said at the Oxford conference that there is a “massive shortage” of local development expertise in the industry. He added that cross-border investors want that expertise.

“Many companies involved in the real estate industry look for students who specialized in real estate either as an undergrad or MBA,” said Sharon McCabe, senior lecturer in real estate at Wisconsin School of Business.

“Employers want students who understand all facets of the asset — not just the projected income and expenses,” she added.

CBRE runs a paid, full-time summer associate program for MBAs. Candidates are placed in areas such as business development, or work as strategy consultants. JLL, a leading US real estate investment group, said it plans to hire 1,000 more employees in Asia in 2015 for its research, consultancy, and facility management services teams.

Commercial property firms offer the most opportunity for MBAs — who are hired as financial and marketing analysts for developers and capital provision intermediaries, private equity firms, lenders, and corporations that have REITs, said Andrea Heuson, director of real estate programs at University of Miami.