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Solving a global real estate development challenge

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

UNC team members (L-R): Dan Outen, Adam Chechila, Mary Margaret Little and Stephen Dahlem (all MBA ’16)

Each year, 16 teams from top business schools meet in Chapel Hill to compete in our invitation-only UNC Real Estate Development Challenge case competition. Each team is given approximately four days to review the case, create a comprehensive development program for the site and submit their final slide deck. Teams then present in front of a group of judges representing some of real estate’s top developers and investors, including AvalonBay Communities, Greystar, The JBG Companies, J.P. Morgan, Highwoods Properties, Starwood Capital Group and USAA Real Estate.

The 2016 Challenge case was inspired by Wes Fuller (MBA ’03), executive managing director for Greystar. Each team was asked to propose a development plan for a Greystar-owned 26-acre site in the London borough of Ealing. Plans needed to outline a mix of properties types, density and design, as well as address the risks and financial feasibility of the proposed program.

Due to the international location, a tremendous amount of market research was necessary in order to understand the housing market, commercial real estate market, and prior and proposed projects in the London suburb. The housing market in London is a bit different than in the States. The multifamily housing market is much less sophisticated and is populated by local operators rather than large management groups like Greystar.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

The judges for our 2016 UNC Real Estate Development Challenge

Our UNC Kenan-Flagler team worked until the very last minute to create a compelling program and presentation. After three long days, one overnight, a snowstorm and several cups of coffee, we submitted our final slide deck at 8:59am – with not a minute to spare. As we geared up for presentation day, we practiced dry runs and gave one another feedback throughout. What we couldn’t prepare for was the tremendous opportunity (and pressure) to pitch our plan to senior executives from some of the best real estate firms in the world.

The UNC Real Estate Development Challenge is an incredible experience that prepares MBA students for the investment committee presentations and senior management interactions we will make as real estate developers. Our team was pleased to represent UNC Kenan-Flagler in the 2016 Challenge. We brought home the second place prize and are especially proud that our School hosts such a prestigious case competition for our real estate colleagues around the globe.

By Stephen Dahlem (MBA ’16)

Learn more about our UNC Kenan-Flagler Real Estate program.