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Fernando Escobar

Global Real Estate Markets Conference Connects Students with Industry Leaders

by Fernando Escobar Thursday, December 17, 2015

The 2015 Global Real Estate Markets (GREM) Conference lived up to its superb reputation yet again. Beginning with a fireside style chat with Extell Development Founder and President, Gary Barnett, and ending with a panel on global opportunities in Asia, no stone was left unturned in covering and discussing all real estate markets. There is little doubt that all attendees came away with a much clearer picture on the current state of the real estate market both domestically and globally. 

Some of the event highlights: Gary Barnett discussed his recent projects, including the much discussed ONE57.  While there is some controversy surrounding ONE57, Mr. Barnett was adamant that the development will bring many union jobs to the city and is a welcome addition to New York. He also provided the audience a snap shot into his career, which began as a jewelry dealer and made its way into commercial development.  He also took questions from those in attendance and spoke frankly about his belief that you have to make decisions based on the industry and not worry about building a legacy.

Bill Ferguson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ferguson Partners Ltd., moderated a panel entitled “A View from the Top,” that discussed emerging real estate trends that will shape the market in 2016 and beyond. This was an high-level, informative discussion with some of the top leaders in the industry, including Jack Chandler, Global Head of Real Estate at BlackRock Inc.; Robert G. Gifford, President and CEO at AIG Global Real Estate; Jay Mantz, President at Rialto Capital Management; Robert Merck, Senior Managing Director at MetLife Real Estate Investors; and Trevor Bond, CEO and Director at W.P. Carey & Company, LLC.  The panelists all agreed that investors are currently looking at more opportunistic, value-add investments, compared to years past. Clearly, this is the type of group we were all fortunate to hear from regarding emerging real estate trends.

One of the big takeaways from the conference, which many panelists discussed, was the belief that we are late in the real estate cycle -- at the very least, we’ve hit the, “7th inning stretch.”  During the conference wrap-up, our own Timothy Riddiough, Professor and Academic Director, James A. Graaskamp Real Estate Center, noted conditions are currently, “frothy.” While none of the panelists specifically stated any sector over-heating, most pointed out investors closely looking at what sectors to deploy capital, and being more cautious on where to deploy said capital.

In addition to the informative panel sessions, the students once again had the privilege of touring the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, which was a was a real highlight of the trip.  Overall, from the student perspective, the Graaskamp Center’s fall board events in New York City served as yet another reminder of why he Wisconsin Real Estate Program is a world-class program – the opportunity to connect with and learn from some of the most talented and passionate leaders in the industry.