MBA Students Land Second in Real Estate Challenge

A team of six Berkeley MBA students took second place Nov. 18 in the annual National Real Estate Challenge at the University of Texas Austin, beating out 18 other top business schools.

The Berkeley-Haas team consisted of second-year, full-time students Greg Beloff, Jaime Choy, Miki Dutt, and Chris Nehls; evening and weekend student Jennifer Cofield, MBA 11; and full-time student Dan Byrnes, MBA 12. The team won $8,000 for coming in second, trailing only Wharton.

Each team was required to prepare a 20-minute presentation on the real estate case. The fictional negotiations case was based on an actual debt restructuring deal in which Goldman Sachs represented the investor and Archon Group, a commercial real estate investment management and mortgage loan company, was the day-to-day operating partner. At issue was what to do about loans on two troubled assets–undeveloped property and empty office buildings.

The Berkeley MBA team presented its case to about ten senior real estate professionals in Texas during the first round and then about 100 people, including the judges and other teams, in the finals.

"We really learned to work within a team in a high-pressure situation," Byrnes says of the experience. "It was good practice to focus on thoroughly solving a complicated and timely real estate issue–that being how to resolve troubled properties."