For the seventh year, a group of Wisconsin School of Business undergraduate real estate majors, led by Faculty Associate Joe Walsh, traveled to Munich Germany to attend EXPO REAL, one of the largest real estate conferences in the world. The conference featured more than 36,000 property experts from 72 countries, EXPO REAL includes attendees from the entire spectrum of the real estate industry including consultants, developers, bankers, property services providers, and asset managers from a multitude of countries. Aside from attending general expos and panel sessions at the conference, the students met individually with over a dozen real estate professionals. Some of the most interesting discussions were with Adam Metz, head of international real estate at The Carlyle Group, and Rob Reiskin, co-head of Heitman Europe. Both of these meetings were set up by the always helpful UW Real Estate alums. The students also met with a great friend of the program and Graaskamp board member, Brad Olsen, who has been instrumental in planning the EXPO REAL trip since its inception.
Joe Walsh is a big advocate of the EXPO REAL trip because he believes it gives UW students real world exposure into the arena of international real estate, along with the opportunity to meet excellent contacts and experience another countries’ culture. This opportunity for the students also enables them to gauge their interest in pursuing a career in international real estate, much like past attendee and alum Norm Glazer, who is now at Amstar Global in London.
Prior to heading to Germany, the students are required to choose a portfolio and research assignment, usually focused on European or International Real Estate. These assignments are greatly aided by the school’s partnership with Real Capital Analytics, which provides the students with real market and transactional data.
The Conference is always the week immediately following Germany’s Oktoberfest, which typically ensures strong attendance at EXPO. The students were able to take in Oktoberfest the weekend prior as well as the annual UW dinner on the eve of EXPO REAL at Der Ratskeller, an excellent restaurant in Munich.
The highlights of the trip included the group meetings with rob Reiskin, and Adam Metz. Metz’s discussion was particularly interesting because he was formerly the CEO of General Growth Properties (GGP) after their bankruptcy. His experience bringing GGP out of bankruptcy was very informative for the students. The discussions with these two high level executives also focused on European real estate investments and the belief that there is still opportunity in the market, especially in large cities where markets aren’t fully priced. The students also discussed the implications of a decrease in Chinese capital into the gateway cities of European countries.
Another highlight of the trip, was the tour of an adaptive reuse factory (originally a Phillip Morris Cigarette factory), which now houses Go Pro’s European headquarters. The students were able to see the vision and innovation of Workstadt’s new development plan in action while touring the facility. The experience in Munich was all encompassing for the students. Meeting real estate professionals at the top of their field, seeing individual properties, and experiencing the culture of a new country broadened the students’ perspectives and enabled them to see the world of international real estate in a new light. The EXPO REAL trip will be a great asset and experience for UW students for years to come.