Last month Junior Evan Schwartz and Sophomore Sarah Crow were selected to lead the Undergraduate Real Estate Club (UREC) as co-presidents for 2023. We spoke with Schwartz and Crow, who are both Business Administration majors in the real estate area of emphasis, to learn more about their joint vision for the student organization.
Why are you passionate about Real Estate?
Sarah: I am fascinated by the way physical space shapes our livelihoods. Buildings bring people together around a purpose, cultivate culture, facilitate relationships, and inspire creativity. Some buildings are aspirational, they instill in their inhabitants a sense of belonging and enthusiasm and a desire to thrive. Others serve as homes; they create the building blocks of one’s community and relationships. Buildings have power and vitality, and I want a chance to participate in the shaping of land and space, to transform my skyline, and to fulfill the needs of consumers. While some might see real estate as straight forward, I find incredible opportunity for creativity and entrepreneurship within this industry. Growing up I spent many Saturday afternoons walking construction sites with my father, and I always found interest in esoteric details. At an industrial site, how could the placement of loading docks increase efficiency or affect property value? For multifamily, would a podium or wrap concept make more sense on this lot? Commercial real estate affects everyone, those using it from the inside and those seeing it from the outside, and I find purpose in creating sustainable communities where people can live, work, and flourish.
Evan: I am passionate about real estate because of both the qualitative and quantitative aspects it requires as well as the positive impact it can have on a community. I am very much a people person and have been fortunate enough to already have met so many influential industry professionals who have inspired me. Combining those communication and teamwork skills with the analytical requirements to capitalize on a successful real estate endeavor drives my interest in CRE. It is also an entrepreneurial industry with versatility within the different sectors, which is super exciting and holds my attention.
Why are you a part of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club? How do you believe it is of benefit to UNC Real Estate students?
Sarah: Although real estate was a pretty regular topic at the family dinner table growing up, joining UREC my freshman year was really my first opportunity to study the nuts and bolts of real estate in a structured way. UREC gives me to opportunity to form relationships with and learn from like-minded students who have come before me, and simultaneously benefit from new ideas and diverse experiences of speakers and fellow students in the club. The UREC infrastructure of meetings, speakers, mentors, experiences, and friends has affirmed my personal interest in real estate and shown me that there are abundant ways to get comprehensive exposure and target this passion that I hope to make my lifetime vocation.
Evan: I am part of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club because of the learning it provides into the industry and the exposure to executives in all aspects of the industry. I have been able to meet so many interesting and motivated students through the club, as well as get connected with real estate professionals who are excited to champion your career goals and help you figure out your path. The club also offers various bootcamps, technical sessions, and strategic based conversations which all enhance members’ understanding on CRE and prepare them for the industry.
Why did you decide to apply for the president position of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club?
Sarah: Over the past year and a half at UNC, I have found immense support from mentors, faculty, and students through the Wood Center. Kenan-Flagler real estate alumni have gone out of their way to give back by mentoring, advising, and creating opportunities for students like me. Past student presidents Emily, Julian, Donovan, and David immediately took me under their wing, showed me the ropes, and inspired me with the confidence to pursue leadership within the club as a sophomore. The Wood Center has given me so much, and I was eager to make an impact of my own.
Evan: I have been actively involved in UREC since my freshman year, so I felt I had a solid understanding of the club and what needs to be accomplished when I applied. I also love working with Lynn so being a co-president gives me the opportunity to meet with her on a regular basis. The club has provided so much opportunity for me over these past few years, so I just wanted to be able to help and mentor younger members/students. I figured the president position would provide me the best opportunity to accomplish that.
What is your vision for the club during your term?
Sarah: Evan and I inherited the club in a tremendous place, and we see no need to rebuild ‘Chesterton’s Fence.’ However, my vision for the year focuses on two key initiatives: curating strategic and compelling speakers and creating more avenues for students of varied understanding and experience in real estate to access and maintain membership in our club. Simply put, I want to make it fun and worthwhile to come to meetings. The core of UREC is the weekly speaker series on Wednesday nights. We are appreciative that the club has been able to welcome many different types of speakers, and we have found that the most attended and lively discussions are those that focus on describing various strategic real estate initiatives, rather than focusing on a company internships or job recruiting. Kenan-Flagler students like to hear what’s driving new business initiatives or compelling company leaders to enter new markets. For our term, Evan and I have deliberately focused heavily on inviting a contrasting group of speakers to enlighten and expose students to a wide variety of ideas within real estate. We will be covering topics like, up and coming asset classes, ESG and sustainable development practices, mixed use properties, macro market trends, and population migration and demand drivers. Our second initiative focuses on forming connections across the Wood Center and Kenan-Flagler to facilitate more connections between the many incredible programs offered here. From case competitions, the REDI program, and Wednesday speaker series to employer coffee chats, the real estate conference, technical financial modeling trainings, and the variety of real estate classes, the UREC serves as a uniting force to inform interested students of every opportunity available to them.
Evan: My vision for the club during my term is to expose the students to all the different facets of the industry and prepare them to make valuable contributions in their careers. I believe this can best be done by reworking our club meetings to be more interactive and discussion based through networking events, mini case competitions, and Q&A sessions. Many younger students are not educated on the diversity of opportunities within CRE, so revealing those is a big priority for Sarah and me.
What qualities about you and your co-president make the two of you a good team to lead UREC together?
Sarah: Evan and I work very well together, and I am so appreciative of his leadership and partnership. I think we share two fundamental traits that allow us to lead the club effectively: listening and enthusiasm. I think the best leaders are the best listeners, and we have been working hard to understand what club members want to get out of their time spent with the UREC. Evan and I spend a lot of time with our executive board reflecting after meetings and planning future events to match the evolving interests of club members. We try to set a collaborative culture to empower the executive board and give everyone a chance to be involved. Secondly, Evan and I come from differing real estate backgrounds, but we share a keen passion for the profession and the real estate field. We are both enthusiastic about planning productive and compelling meetings and willing to put significant time into serving and supporting the club.
Evan: Sarah and I have very compatible qualities, we both listen to everyone, embrace learning from all perspectives and want to create a true sense of community. Having a similar perspective really makes it enjoyable to work with each other. She and I are both motivated individuals who want to see this club and its members succeed. We both want the students to get the same meaningful experience out of the club, so it makes us much more productive when we are scheduling the semester and establishing club goals.
How do you believe you can positively impact the UNC Real Estate Community?
Sarah: Right now, I see my primary role as that of a learner. Comparatively, I am new to the real estate world and I’m eager to soak up every bit of knowledge I can while I have a “student passport” of sorts.
Evan: I believe that I can positively impact the UNC Real Estate Community by being inclusive to anyone who wants to learn about the industry and to extend my knowledge and connections to anyone who wants to pursue internships or careers in the field. I love nothing more than to help others and aid them in succeeding in their endeavors, so having that passion should make a positive influence in the community.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Sarah: I’m not exactly sure! I hope to pursue a vocation in real estate development, portfolio management, or capital markets, and have experiences in differing capacities and exposure to an evolving local and global real estate market. I want to learn the business from both a development and finance perspective and gain insights on the risks and returns on different investment strategies. I also love public policy, political discourse, and understanding current events and would like to maintain my advocation for and involvement in this arena. I hope to live in a few new places and develop wide friendships and networks before eventually settling down back home in Dallas, TX.
Evan: In five years, I hope to have gained enough experience working for a commercial real estate company to begin leading my own team within the firm. Currently, I can see myself working in multiple different sectors within CRE, so using those first five years to help figure out what I enjoy the most is crucial. Obtaining this leadership experience as a co-president will be a huge steppingstone to help me get to where I want to be as a person and professional in five years.
The Undergraduate Real Estate Club meets on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. in McColl. To join the UREC email list follow the club on Heel Life at this link. For more immediate communication about meetings students can follow this link. Students can also email UNC_RealEstateClub@unc.edu and ask to be added to the club’s email listserv.
Co-Presidents: Sarah Crow, Evan Schwartz
Treasurer: Spencer Sabatino
Learning & Development Chair: Kevin Cowan
Learning & Development Analyst: Mary Kate Dailey
Learning & Development – Technical Training and Case Competition Committee: Leader: Adam Lee
Student Relations Chair: Molly Furman
Student Relations Analyst: Selden Baldwin
Communications Chair: Anna Clayton Tanner
Co-Corporate Relations Chair: Cam Peterson & William Saye
Corporate Relations Analyst: Liv Schram
Corporate Relations – UREC Trek Planning Committee Leader: Spencer Sabatino
Co-Chairs of Diversity & Inclusion: July Ramos Corona & Tvisha Vadapalli