Note from Michael: This profile is part of The A.CRE Undergraduate Real Estate Series highlighting some of the top undergraduate programs with robust opportunities to study and secure work in commercial real estate. Each profile has been written by a current or former student of the program and is written from their unique perspective on the school and its real estate offerings. A huge thanks to Ryan Goodwin, Class of 2021, for taking the time to write this profile of UNC.
The Kenan-Flagler Business School undergraduate Real Estate concentration and Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies Program as a whole has not only allowed me to receive educational and professional resources needed to break into the commercial real estate industry following graduation, but also to find a career path I am prepared to excel in. From the excellent courses with invested faculty to the quality coaching offered by the Wood Center, to the abundant amount of opportunities the Undergraduate Real Estate Club offers, I have received a well-rounded experience that has shaped the way I view commercial real estate and set me up for future success within the industry.
Coming into Carolina, I was not interested in pursuing business as a major at all, let alone real estate as a potential career path. In fact, I wanted to pursue an education in sports science with hopes of becoming a physical therapist. During my first year, I quickly realized this path was not for me, but concurrently I was lost where to go next.
UNC Undergraduate Real Estate Club: Passion and Preparation
Lucky for me, I was friends with an older member of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club, and he suggested that I come to the next club meeting in which he was going to be on a student panel discussing his experience within the industry, going through recruitment, and the real estate program along with six other students.
Going into the meeting, I had no clue what to expect. I had no prior knowledge of real estate, and to be honest, I was not interested in it at all but went to support my friend. However, this mindset completely changed following the meeting. Watching other upper-class members of the club as well as Kenan-Flagler have such a passion for real estate and eager to assist younger students interested in pursuing the same career really made me realize this was a program I needed to look into.
In the coming weeks, I conducted extensive research on the industry, attended more club events, and met with coaches at the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies, and soon enough, I was set on pursuing a career in commercial real estate.
Moving forward to this year, as I received most of what the real estate program had to offer besides a few courses, I wanted to shift my focus to serving as an ambassador for underclassmen students that are in the same position I was in not too long ago. Thus, I now serve as a member of the executive team of the club and also constructed and lead the inaugural Real Estate Boot Camp (described below) with another member of the club.
The UNC Undergraduate Real Estate Club offers its members the opportunity to meet and learn from industry professionals through real estate company information sessions, a real estate speaker series, attending career treks in major hiring cities, case competitions, and networking with current MBA real estate students and UNC real estate alumni.
In addition to the valuable opportunities to meet, learn, and network with industry professionals, the club also presents a well-rounded educational curriculum to members which advances their real estate knowledge beyond the classroom and receive relevant certifications and training necessary to work in the industry. Some of the offerings are as follows:
Undergraduate Real Estate Boot Camp
New to the Undergraduate Real Estate Club this year, each member is provided the opportunity to participate in the student-led Undergraduate Real Estate Boot Camp. Geared to be an introductory level overview of the commercial real estate industry, the boot camp aims for those with minimal exposure to real estate to gain a foundation of commercial real estate through this four-session boot camp.
Information covered introduces real estate and various foundational topics, such as the different product types, asset classes, sectors of the industry, and job functions within the industry. The boot camp also introduces more technical-based information, which includes the functions of debt and equity, differing investment strategies, valuation methods, walking through a pro-forma, and other general real estate concepts and metrics.
In addition, participants learn from a panel of seniors who have successfully navigated the recruitment process and received internships and full-time positions. Career advisors from the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies also teach best networking practices and explain the various resources offered by Kenan-Flagler and the Wood Center that are at their disposal. Overall, the boot camp hopes to provide those interested in pursuing commercial real estate a foundational understanding of the industry and how they can successfully advance their real estate career path through the valuable resources UNC and the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies provide students.
Each semester, the Undergraduate Real Estate Club will conduct one or two full-day career treks to top real estate companies that have a history of hiring UNC undergraduate students for internship and full-time positions in cities such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Raleigh.
Typically, 20+ members of the club will participate in the career treks in which they will visit multiple firms, project sites, or individual properties throughout the day. Attending the firm treks are a valuable opportunity for students to gain a first-hand experience of a company and their operations, to network with employees of each firm, and to get their name and experience out to each firm as each student’s resumes are distributed to every company that is hosting a session within the trek.
Real Estate Financial Modeling Training
Open to each member of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club, the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies offers a two-day real estate financial modeling workshop each year. During this workshop, students will learn from an industry professional and be exposed to the various components and functions of financial modeling in excel. Overall, this workshop provides students the opportunity to enhance a necessary skill set needed to work in the industry.
Professional Development Workshops
To assist in the recruitment process of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club members, the club hosts numerous professional development workshops throughout the year. Sessions include LinkedIn workshops, best networking practices, interview preparation, and much more. In addition to these specific workshops, members of the club always have access to the great career coaches at the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies in which they can discuss many of these topics one-on-one and receive more personalized advisement during their recruitment process.
Villanova Case Competition
Each year, the Undergraduate Real Estate Club chooses four members to compete in the Mulroy Real Estate Challenge at Villanova University. This challenge is a national real estate development case competition and is comprised of 15 other teams from various schools across the country as well as judges and sponsors from top firms across the real estate industry.
Here, the team is presented a development project in which the group must create and pitch all elements of the development project from design to financing. Group members will develop their pitch throughout the spring semester under the advisement of Susan Drake of the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies and ultimately present their finished product during the competition in April. This is a great opportunity for the selected individuals to gain a real-world educational experience beyond the classroom in which they conduct all aspects of a potential development project.
The Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies
The Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies exists to enrich the real estate experience at UNC Kenan-Flagler for students, faculty, alumni and employers. The Wood Center and its advisory board focus on the overall strategy of the program and curriculum issues to ensure that students are learning state-of-the-art analytical techniques and applications. In addition, the Wood Center helps students in their internship and career searches. The primary goal of the Wood Center is to create a community of real estate practitioners engaged in lifelong learning and career development, achieved through maintaining an engaged community, fostering an experiential learning environment, and preparing community members for sustained career success.
A Glimpse Into Some of The Wood Center Activities
Annual UNC Real Estate Conference
The Annual UNC Real Estate Conference, hosted by the Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies, is a full-day event with speakers, networking, and discussion concerning the state of the real estate industry. Highlighted by a keynote speaker, numerous sponsored companies, and 600+ industry professionals each year, students who attend are exposed to valuable opportunities to learn from and network with individuals from various functions within the commercial real estate industry.
Argus Enterprise Training
Each year an instructor from ARGUS will conduct a two-day ARGUS Enterprise software training for students interested in receiving their ARGUS Enterprise Certification. As Argus is a common software used industry-wide, members of the club receive a rare opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the program and receive their certification upon passing the certification exam. While recently offered to all real estate MBA’s and a select few of undergraduate club members, the Wood Center is now offering an undergraduate specific course for 30+ members of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club.
B.S Business Administration with a Real Estate Area of Emphasis
Within the Kenan-Flagler Business School, each student will receive a general B.S. Business Administration as their major; however, there are numerous areas of emphasis in which students may complete. These allow students to customize their degrees and generally will generally consist of three to five elective courses relating to the general subject, i.e. real estate, investment banking, consulting, etc.
In regards to the real estate area of emphasis, there are four courses that students must complete to receive the area of emphasis. These consist of Introduction to Real Estate, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Development, and Real Estate Capital Markets, each highlighted within the course offerings section. This will generally take students two to four semesters to complete, as they will take these courses in conjunction with the business major core classes.
As these courses will cover various topics within commercial real estate, this area of emphasis is designed to provide students with a broad background in all aspects of the real estate industry. In addition to these courses, students pursuing a career in commercial real estate are also recommended to engage in the diverse opportunities offered by Kenan-Flagler and the Wood Center, in which students can apply the knowledge gained through these courses and further their career development.
Further CRE Opportunities at UNC
Alumni Networking Events
As the real estate alumni of Kenan-Flagler is one of the School’s most engaged alumni networks, the club and Wood Center for Real Estate Studies organizes multiple events across major geographies and share job openings, news, and relevant information. By attending these events, students can engage and network with alumni who are always open to helping a fellow Tarheel.
Real Estate Private Equity Fund
Kenan-Flagler Business School Foundation (KFBSF) Real Estate Fund I was established in 2007 with the primary objective of providing a unique educational experience for student managers and secondarily to provide investment returns to its Limited Partners. Funds I, II and III are fully invested and Fund IV (established in 2018) is currently being invested.
Tenure as a manager on the Real Estate Funds provides a select group of students with hands-on experience in the operation of a private investment fund. Concurrently, student managers have the opportunity to establish personal and professional relationships with national real estate developers and investors. The Funds’ managers work closely with the real estate faculty and friends of Kenan-Flagler Business School to identify and evaluate investment opportunities for the Real Estate Funds. Once an investment is approved and placed, the student managers provide continued surveillance, reporting, and asset management.
Company Information Sessions
Throughout the year numerous companies will host information sessions for their firm and share open opportunities within the company, whether it be internships or full-time positions. By attending these sessions, students can learn about each company and their business operations while also networking with current employees. Many students have found this to be a great opportunity to get a foot in the door while recruiting for internship or full-time positions.
The People Involved in UNC Real Estate
All in all, what truly makes the UNC Undergraduate Real Estate Program special is the people. Each faculty member and staff are entirely invested in providing students the knowledge, coaching, and personal development strategies necessary to excelling in internship and full-time positions. Conversely, the real estate program hosts some of the brightest, motivated, and passionate students on UNC’s campus.
Combining these aspects, the UNC Undergraduate Real Estate Program creates an environment conducive to learning and growing individually while also setting each student up for success in their real estate career path. I am truly grateful for and commend my success thus far to the unique, personalized, and extensive opportunities the Kenan-Flagler Business School, Wood Center for Real Estate Studies, and Undergraduate Real Estate Club have offered in my three years at Carolina.
Real Estate Course Offerings at UNC
Here is a list of the real estate course offerings available to undergraduate students at the University of North California.
Introduction to Real Estate
This introductory, full-semester course focuses on general real estate concepts with an emphasis on income-producing, investment real estate. Students examine real estate fundamentals, including how one makes informed decisions at the individual asset level, creates value and builds wealth through investment real estate. These decisions require familiarity with the different product types of real estate and an understanding of the real estate cycle, which this course covers in depth. Students also examine the acquisition, development and construction processes, financing and refinancing, partnership issues and negotiation, real estate-related law, applicable partnership and contract law, property operations and a variety of other real estate topics through lectures, guest speakers, and individual cases. Overall, this course focuses on real estate practice: how people analyze and execute deals and operate real estate.
Real Estate Finance
Real Estate Finance is a half semester course, offered during Mod III of the Spring, that provides students with the concepts and tools necessary for understanding real estate markets and for managing real estate assets, with a focus on value creation. As this course focuses on the fundamentals of real estate finance, the main topics covered include valuation of individual assets, valuation of real estate companies, debt financing, equity financing, portfolio management, market analysis, and other various real estate finance topics. Students also are exposed to real world, hands-on experiences in which they can apply the knowledge gained during lectures through multiple pro-forma financial analyses and investment proposal presentations.
Real Estate Development
Real Estate Development is a half-semester course, offered during Mod II of the Fall, that is an introduction to the real estate development business. This course encompasses applied market and financial analysis, an introduction to how local governments work, and a primer on the multi-faceted job functions of real-world developers. Through using a number of real-world cases to illustrate how real estate development analysis is done, students are introduced to the nature and potential solution of real estate development problems.
Real Estate and Capital Markets
Real Estate and Capital Markets is a half-semester course, offered in Mod IV of the Spring, that provides a top-down view of how real estate, as an asset class fits into the capital markets. Topics of this course include the risk-return profile of residential and commercial real estate investments, real estate as a component of a well-diversified investment portfolio, derivative markets for real estate investments, mortgages and their timing options, mortgage-backed securities, and the market for Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Real Estate Investment Fund
The Real Estate Investment Fund course explores, at a very advanced level, all stages of the management of a real estate private equity fund: from capital formation, deal sourcing, due diligence, monitoring and adding value, and exiting of the fund’s real estate holdings. Open to members of the Kenan-Flagler Real Estate Fund, MBA fund managers and Undergraduate fund associates, members receive a hands-on experience in the operation of a private investment fund.
About Ryan Goodwin: Ryan Goodwin is a junior at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Commercial Real Estate and Multinational Finance at the Kenan-Flagler Business School and minoring in Urban Studies and City Planning. Ryan serves as the Co-Head of the Real Estate Boot Camp and member of the executive team for the UNC Undergraduate Real Estate Club. His prior internship experience includes working as a research analyst for the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at Kenan-Flagler and as an acquisition analyst for New Market Properties in Atlanta, GA focusing on grocery-anchored retail acquisition. This summer, Ryan will be returning to New Market Properties to work with the retail acquisitions team for a majority of the summer while also gaining experience of different product types by working with the office acquisition team of Preferred Office Properties and multifamily acquisition team of Preferred Apartment Communities.