Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Wisconsin Real Estate Viewpoint Blog
AFIRE warms New York with a stronger U.S. investment outlook by Graaskamp Center Staff
Part of our blog series: Meet Our Current Students, a report from a first-year real estate MBA who attended the meeting with Professor François Ortalo-Magné.

The Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) held their 2011 Winter Conference at the Mandarin Hotel in New York City on February 9th and 10th. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the results of a survey completed by AFIRE members in October 2010, as well as the current state of the international and U.S. real estate markets.

The conference began with a synopsis of the survey results presented by Professor François Ortalo-Magné, chairman of the Department of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics at the Wisconsin School of Business. In the preceding months, I and another first year MBA Real Estate student Chad Broderick assisted Professor Ortalo-Magné with compiling the survey data and creating his presentation and, in return, we had the opportunity to attend the conference. (See also "U.S. Cities Lead Way for Global Foreign Real Estate Investment," Wisconsin Real Estate Viewpoint, 1/5/11. The Graaskamp Center also conducted the survey in 2010.)

The AFIRE conference was attended by approximately 250 people, a majority of whom hold C-level executive positions at commercial real estate companies located throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. A number of attendees were Wisconsin Real Estate alumni who are now working in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad. From a student’s perspective, it was a great opportunity to hear insight in the commercial real estate industry from the players themselves, whether through panel discussions or personal conversations. At first, we were concerned that, as students, it might be difficult to engage these individuals in conversation. However, what we found was the contrary. While it does help to make an effort and be outgoing, several individuals sought us out because they wanted to welcome us, were alumni of the Wisconsin real estate program, or were interested in recruiting Wisconsin students in the future. And the individuals whom we approached were more than happy to answer our questions and tell us more about their company and its focus within the industry.

The night before the AFIRE conference began, the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association’s northeast chapter held a Real Estate Roundtable at the New York Athletic Club with guest speaker Roy March, CEO of real estate investment banking firm Eastdil Secured. After Mr. March’s presentation concerning capital markets in real estate, the 20+ alumni members in attendance were able to network, giving us students a great opportunity to not only learn more about the industry from professionals but use their resources in hopes of landing a summer internship. Because of the strong Wisconsin alumni network, several promising possibilities came out of that night’s event.

It is opportunities like these that I think make a graduate level real estate education at the Wisconsin School of Business so valuable. While the program’s real estate-focused curriculum and excellent, renowned professors are second to none, it is the alumni network, the reach of the department into industry groups like AFIRE and others, and the James A. Graaskamp name that separates the school from its competitors and gives its students an advantage by offering the ability to both learn more about the industry and advance their prospects for post-graduate careers.

Eric Dowling is a first-year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. Eric plans to combine his previous real estate experience with his MBA education to establish a career in private equity investments.

Photo by Thomas Arhelger via stock.xchng