(Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell Manning School of Business). “UMass Lowell business students go to CREFC.”
UMass Lowell Manning business students attended the Commercial Real Estate Financial Council (CREFC) in Miami on Jan. 7 – 10. The eleven students in attendance had the opportunity to learn valuable real estate business lessons, network with high-profile individuals, develop new professional skills and gain insight into the workings of the industry behind closed doors.
Henry Rosa, a senior business student and the recruiting chair for Real Estate Network Association (RENA), said, “The Commercial Real Estate Financial Council (CREFC) in Miami is a meeting for financial real estate professionals who meet every January to discuss commercial real estate.” Rosa described the content of the meeting as, “[a discussion of current events], like how interest rates affect the market, how the market responds to certain policies, and what are the best opportunities to get into commercial or office real estate.”
During a networking breakfast, students had the chance to chat with professionals. One lawyer, who focused on due diligence, was welcoming enough to Rosa to accept his request to be his mentor. The lawyer broke down everything he did in his job. He would help his clients gain permits to build on their purchased property and advise his clients on zoning regulations. “Since he knew so much, I asked him if he could be my mentor and he said, ‘Yeah, sure.’”
Perhaps a significant highlight of the event for students was meeting and asking a question to former NBA basketball player Shaquille O’Neil. Shaq answered a question from Wins Mathew, a finance major, and the treasurer of RENA, who asked him how he was feeling personally and emotionally after buying his first piece of commercial property. Shaq shared how he felt buying a strip mall and the lesson he learned from the experience. Shaq put most of his money into the mall which later turned into a poor investment.
Mathew said, “[Shaq] learned from his failures, so that’s why he doesn’t put all his eggs in one basket. It is important to diversify one’s portfolio.” Ever since then, Shaq has invested his money in different asset property classes (i.e. residential, commercial, etc.) and across multiple properties.
In addition to the lesson on diversification of risks and investments, Mathew also learned the art of networking from the event from spending days speaking to new people. To help him introduce himself to high-profile executives and professionals, he developed his own “self-taught elevator pitch” to explain to others who he is and what he is interested in learning.
Anir Dasgupta, a finance major specializing in real estate, came into the CREFC from a different perspective. Instead of only networking, he wanted to know why people would attend this event. There were people who flew from all over the country, even some from outside the United States, to come to this major event. Dasgupta asked himself, “Why are people and firms paying so much for this [expensive] conference?” Dasgupta discovered the high-profile meetings taking place behind closed doors. “Actual deals were being done at the conference. Private meetings were being held by these top firms,” said Dasgupta. In the future, he now has a better understanding of the overall real estate industry and the purpose of such conferences: negotiating and closing business deals. “As students, we were not doing any deals, but we get to see the benefit of a conference like this has for firms,” said Dasgupta.
The eleven UMass Lowell Manning business students, including Rosa, Mathew, and Dasgupta, are all passionate about real estate and plan to pursue a career in the field after graduation.