Student Team: Cornell International Real Estate Competition

One of SPIRE’s primary goals is to support Stanford students in exposing themselves to the fields of real estate, place making and the built environment. With SPIRE’s assistance, for the first time, Stanford sent a student team to compete in the 8th Annual Cornell International Real Estate Case Competition in New York in November. A team of five enterprising undergraduate students pushed themselves to compete in an intensive five-day undertaking, culminating in a full day of presentations. 

At the competition, the teams are judged on their investment recommendations, approach to the problems, and presentation skills. Twenty undergraduate teams representing six countries competed for over $20,000 in prize money. Judges in the competition are real estate executives representing top companies in the industry.

This year’s Stanford student team members included seniors Reinier Eenkema van Dijk (’17), Dylan Faulkner ( ’17),  Daniel Ron (’17), Ehson Kolbehdari (’17), Madison Hawkinson (’17). 

 SPIRE asked each of the student team members to reflect on their experience. 

Team leader Maddie Hawkinson (’17) submitted the following: 

When the team reached out to me to join the team, I was excited by the opportunity to learn how the modeling and valuation skills I’ve learned in investment banking can be applied to the field of real estate. Overall, our team was built up of a number of skilled team members who had experience in real estate, valuation techniques, and a wide range of other mathematical fields. 

The experience ended up being relatively different than we anticipated. Teams from other schools came prepared with models, cases, pre-set presentations and a number of other resources we hadn’t even thought to encounter.  In fact, many of the teams that were incredibly successful were those who had real estate schools or had competed for many years.  While our presentation had been strong and we put together a strong deck, it was definitely difficult to compete with those resources. 

Looking forward, there are a number of recommendations I have for teams who intend to compete on behalf of Stanford. First, I hope we could start stockpiling models and example investment decks so that teams can pull from these resources when competing.  Second, the team should bring the full six members, and two younger alternates, as well as a faculty advisor—as Cornell suggests.  In addition, the team should practice by doing 3-5 cases during the summer and fall in order to feel comfortable. Finally, I would recommend setting up many alumni advisors who can offer suggestions and advice.  

We are so thankful to have had this opportunity and learned so much, on behalf of SPIRE. Thank you for supporting us in this endeavor.

Another team member Daniel Ron (’17) added his thoughts as follows: 

All in all, this proved to be a humbling experience. Although we possessed the analytical skills to approach the project, we lacked the real estate acumen which comes with majoring in a real estate or business degree which many of the other schools offer. 

I would recommend for the future that SPIRE help students attending by connecting them with real estate courses in the GSB, providing successful pitch decks as samples for students to reference, and continue to provide an advisor willing to help students for reference questions. 

SPIRE, thank you for your support. This experience was informative, enjoyable and helped me further hone my real estate presentation and analytical skills.

Of note, these students are hungry to learn more real estate and recognize that Stanford’s real estate curriculum is lacking compared to that of many other schools. SPIRE and SPIRE members can offer students like these so much of their experience via the SPIRE Mentor-Mentee Program or, perhaps, by advising a student team or walking them through case studies. If you have a desire to get involved with SPIRE’s student outreach, please let SPIRE know via elizabeth@spirestanford.org