Berkeley MBAs Hammer Competition in Three Real Estate Contests

Berkeley MBA students brought home victories in three different real estate competitions within the past month. Teams brought home first-place prizes in two competitions, including the coveted Golden Shovel in an annual competition against Stanford, and placed third in a national competition at MIT.

The most recent win came Thursday, May 6, when the Berkeley Real Estate Club (BREC) took first prize in the Bank of America Low-Income Housing Challenge. Jamie Choy, MBA 11, in the full-time program and Peter Dugo, MBA 11, in the evening and weekend program, teamed up with Cathleen Sullivan, who graduates this year with a master's degree in city planning, to take top honors.

Choi, Dugo, and Sullivan won for their development of “the MISSIONGREEN,” a mixed-use affordable housing development in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. The Berkeley team, dubbed BEAR Housing, partnered with nonprofit developer Mercy Housing, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, and ZETA Communities to develop the much-needed housing in conjunction with a public park being planned by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

The threesome edged out teams that were four times their size from Cal Poly, UC Irvine, and Cal State Chico in the semester-long competition, which requires the teams to work with local organizations to develop a plan to bring a real-life affordable housing project to fruition. Teams are responsible for locating a site, envisioning a design, structuring financing, and obtaining community support.

According to Dugo, the MISSIONGREEN stood out for its solid financial strategy, which included zero debt, an innovative construction plan to utilize pre-fabricated modular construction, and its integration with the adjacent public park.

See the winning proposal and presentation on the BREC website at

Retaining the Golden Shovel

Two days earlier, on May 4, a team of Berkeley MBA students once again beat Stanford at the NAIOP Real Estate Challenge to retain the coveted Golden Shovel. The victory brought the lifetime score in the competition to Cal 12, Stanford 9.

Kyle Early, MBA 11, Meredith Hoffmann, MBA 10, Ryan Leong, MBA 12, and Chris Nehls, MBA 11, teamed up in the competition with Jeff Ream, who is earning a master's in urban design. (Early, Hoffmann, and Nehls are in the Full-time MBA Program. Leong is a student in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program.)

The teams were challenged at the competition to develop ideas for a Walnut Creek property across from a Kaiser hospital. Both came up with plans for senior living communities.

The Berkeley team, which won the audience choice award as well as the judge’s award, analyzed demographics, location, and market research and came up with Creekview Active Living (possible acronym: CAL), an age-in-place community.

The project is designed to accommodate active seniors and not-so-active seniors, and also provide a memory care facility. The project also features health and wellness retail shops on the ground level and a creek-side promenade that invites outdoor activity.

The team was advised by Craig Davey, a co-instructor of the MBA Real Estate Valuation course and managing partner of Diablo Wealth Management.

The Berkeley MBA team with the golden shovel: Chris Nehls, MBA 11; Ryan Leong, MBA 12; Kyle Early, MBA 11; and Meredith Hoffmann, MBA 10.

Third in Boston

Last month, on April 16, a team of Berkeley MBA students was one of only three teams to make the cut and participate in finals for the Boston Open Graduate Real Estate Competition, hosted by MIT.

Vincent Chio, MBA 11, Brent Pace, MBA 10, and David Sterlace, MBA 11, took third place in the finals, competing against Harvard and New York University. To earn a spot in the culminating event, the team met an early April challenge to evaluate a broker’s package on a potential acquisition. They created a full presentation, including valuation, in 48 hours. The teams assessed Boston’s Hayden site, featuring a historic building in an area that has recently traded a label of “combat zone” for that of emerging “Theater District.”

Chio and Sterlace, students in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program, and Pace, a student in the Full-time MBA Program, connected through the Berkeley Real Estate Club. Sterlace believes the team made the finals for “the clarity and efficiency with which we provided an in-depth analysis of the assumptions and market factors affecting our site in the Boston real estate market.”

The Berkeley MBA team at the Boston Open Graduate Real Estate Competition: David Sterlace and Vincent Chio, both MBA 11, and Brent Pace, MBA 10.