Haas Team Builds on Past Real Estate Competition Wins

For the second year in a row, Berkeley MBA students took second place at the University of Texas at Austin Real Estate Challenge.

The Berkeley-Haas team bested 16 rivals from such schools as Stanford, MIT Sloan, Wharton, and Yale. In 2009, Berkeley-Haas took first place. A team from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business won this year.

The 2011 Berkeley-Haas team, named “Prestige Funds,” consisted of full-time students Christian Eder, Josh Mogabgab, Derek Simmons, Nicholas Romero, and Tyler Kepler, all MBA 12; and evening student Charlie McEachron, also MBA 12. They were advised by Adjunct Professor Bill Falik and Professor Nancy Wallace. The team will share $8,000 in prize money.

Team members were emailed a case study on Nov. 3 and presented their 20-minute proposal on Nov. 10 before a panel of 60-plus real estate professionals at the AT&T Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The case asked students how to buy a partner out of a joint venture involving three office buildings. The team also had to suggest a purchase price and develop a “fail-safe” strategy to achieve its goal, says Romero. The Berkeley team proposed using rights embedded in the joint venture agreement to buy its partner out of the deal.

“We polished our presenting skills and learned about the nuances of real estate development transactions,” Romero says, giving credit to Wallace and Falik as well as to Pacific Coast Capital Partners and Ellis Partners for their help in the project.

Romero said the team also learned “to think about deals from the perspective of each party at the table − the developer, the investor, the counter-party, the lender − and evaluate each of their incentives to push a potential transaction forward.”