UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


Real estate conference explores the “new normal”


David Hartzell (PhD ’85)
       David Hartzell

With the 12th annual Real Estate Conference hosted by UNC Kenan-Flagler, industry professionals and members of the UNC Kenan-Flagler real estate community perspectives and insights on both the current state and coming trajectory of the industry.

In the best-attended conference since it was established, UNC Kenan-Flagler honored alumnus and long-time benefactor Leonard W. Wood (MBA ’72) by naming the real estate center the “Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies” in his honor.

“The Real Estate Program has been a prototype for all programs in the business school,” said James W. Dean Jr., dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler. “A lot of students come for the strength of the program. It’s academically rigorous and professionally oriented, and I don’t believe there is another program with the strength and generosity of our alumni.”

David Hartzell (PhD ’85), the Steven D. Bell and Leonard W. Wood Distinguished Professor in Real Estate at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and his wife Randee also were honored with the re-naming of the Leonard Wood/Trammell Crow Fellowship in their names.

Currently home to 32 second-year MBA students and 36 first-year MBA students, the Real Estate Program has been a leader in real estate education for more than 40 years. However, the April 18 conference’s theme recognized that the industry is a changing field. “What is the new normal and are we there yet?” asked Hartzell in his introduction. “Where do we go from here?”

Michaux and Naughton
Michaux and Naughton

Timothy Naughton, CEO and president of AvalonBay Communities, gave a keynote address. “I have a very positive outlook on housing over the next several years,” Naughton said. “We expect a more expanded cycle than in the 2000s.” He was joined on the speaker’s podium by Dick Michaux (MBA ‘73), who provided a lively Q&A session focused on the $16 billion transaction by AvalonBay.

Describing his company’s strategy for maintaining a competitive edge in the market, Naughton said AvalonBay Communities looks to build “the right product for the right customer in the right location during the right cycle.” This strategy is founded upon thorough market research and customer insight. Late last year, Naughton’s company partnered with Equity Residential to acquire Archstone, one of the largest investors, developers and operators of apartment communities in the United States.

Naughton said the transaction allowed AvalonBay Communities to expand its presence in core markets in southern California and Washington, D.C. “The quality of the portfolio was complementary and there was a high degree of alignment,” Naughton said. “We saw this as the optimal outcome for everyone involved.” At the overhead level, AvalonBay Communities identified areas in which Archstone Apartments excelled, such as risk management and technology, and brought on 40 to 50 people from the company to supplement in those areas. “It was a once in a lifetime transaction,” Naughton said.

The conference also included conference speakers concluding with an industry panel discussion of industry sector trends. Conference speakers included: Mark Dotzout, economist from Texas A&M; Mark Yusko, founder and CEO of Morgan Creek; and Mitchell Silver, planning director for the City of Raleigh and current president of the American Planning Association. The panel included Dan Cummings, managing director of Harvard Management Company; Sharmil Modi, principal at the Baupost Group in Boston; and Steven Tanger (BSBA ’70), president and CEO of Tanger Outlet Centers.