Baker Students Continue Success at National Case Competitions

National real estate case competitions are a hallmark of real estate graduate education and are often a highlight of a student’s time here at the Baker Program. Two competitions in particular, the UT-Austin Case Competition in the fall and the MIT CASE Competition in the spring, are among the most prominent national real estate case competitions and have had Cornell teams place in top spots over the last year.

The Baker Program had great success as finalists in this year’s National Real Estate Challenge at UT Austin. Coached by Professor Brad Olson and Advisor Board member Jon Minikes, the team included Baker Program students Ryan Bandy (Baker ’14) and Rodney Harris (Baker ’14); dual degree students Jordan Estevez (Baker/MBA ’14) and Kyle Reardon (Baker/MBA ’14); and Johnson student Aisha Humphries (MBA ’14). The team placed 4th overall and took home a cash prize after competing against fifteen of the top graduate schools in the United States.  

The teams compete for highest honors and cash awards in a real estate case focused on complex finance structures with each year’s case prepared by a major investment bank with this past year’s case prepared by J.P. Morgan Chase. Each team provides a 20-minute case presentation to a judging panel of real estate investment professionals. The teams evaluate an investment opportunity on behalf of a real estate fund, focusing on issues surrounding topics such as acquisition, financing, management, sales and leasing, and ultimate disposition of the property.

Next year’s team looks to follow in the footsteps of this year’s talented cohort. The recently announced team, led by captains Nicholas Martinez (Baker ’15) and Brandon Moss (MBA ’15), also includes Spencer Burton (Baker ’15), Vince Clark (Baker ’15), Ian Hunter (Baker ’15), and Evan Smith (Baker/MBA ’15). They will look to follow-up on last year’s excellent performance with a strong showing of their own.

“The CASE” competition, sponsored by MIT, is a development focused competition where teams of four students have five days to prepare and deliver a proposed development project complete with market analysis, site plan programming, financial underwriting, and deal structuring as part of a comprehensive presentation. Last year, the Baker Program was represented in the winner’s circle as Kyle Reardon (Baker/MBA ’14), along with a team of MBA students from the Johnson School of Management, won first place. An all-Baker team made up of Ryan Bandy (’14), Evan Doran (’14), Jordan Estevez (’14) and Stuart Wilson (’14) were also semi-finalists. This year, for the first time, the CASE competition will be held outside of the United States in London, UK.

With their success in last year’s competition, the competitors are learning from past experience. “Because our team was successful in making the semi-finals last year, I think we were in a good position to know what to improve upon. I believe we managed our time well last year but improved even further this year. We also made sure to maintain a very open and communicative process so that each team member had buy-in on what our overall proposal was,” noted Evan Doran (Baker ’14).

The team is excited to have the opportunity to compete internationally. “What's interesting about the competition being in London is that it requires you to have a more open perspective on how things may be done. For example, we discovered quite early that  typical "American" rented multifamily doesn't exist in the UK to the same extent it does in the US. So we had to learn and absorb both market specifics such as zoning regulations as well as market nuances. It's been fun, though, because it’s one of the few times we've gotten to really dig this deep on an international project,’ added Stuart Wilson (Baker ’14).  The CASE Semi-Finals will be on March 27th at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and The CASE Finals will be on March 28th at London City Hall.