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Top Finish in National Real Estate Investing Competition

September  2017

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A team of Huntsman School students placed third in a national real estate competition, ahead of Harvard, BYU, Wisconsin Madison, Pepperdine and others in the 2016 Real Confidence University Challenge. The annual competition, comprised of 32 universities and colleges with over 190 students, gives hands-on learning experience in public and private commercial real estate investing. The performance of each sector’s weighted investment selection was calculated with its respective benchmark return data provided by NAREIT, NCREIF, Markit and Giliberto-Levy Commercial Mortgage Performance Index.  Each university team is allocated $1 billion in theoretical capital among a variety of commercial real estate investment opportunities found within the public and private equity and the public and private debt sectors.

Mentored by Dr. Ryan Whitby, Huntsman students Braden Thurston, Dakota Ferrin, Kameron Perkins, Mark Allred and Charles Emery researched various real estate sectors including private equity, different debt vehicles, and real estate investment trusts to select a portfolio mix, and then analyzed the impact of their portfolio, including asset classes correlations and risk metrics. After managing their investment portfolio over a 12-month period, the USU team received a $2,500 cash prize for an impressive 12 percent fourth quarter earnings, which ranked as the best in the public sector division. In addition, the team achieved overall third place honors with a return of 18.31 percent over the course of the competition.

The team’s terrific performance had much to do with their efforts to acquire a broader understanding of the impact of portfolio decisions beyond data. “Students not only analyzed the data but also examined the impact of regulatory, political, and geo-political changes on real estate values,” commented Dr. Ryan Whitby, Huntsman School Associate Professor and USU Real Estate Association Advisor. Their top ranking was even more impressive because the study of real estate is new to USU.  “The real estate programs at USU are in their infancy.  We’ve only had a minor for a little more than a year and just recently started a club last spring.  Given the lack of classes and resources when the competition started, the students showed great initiative to get involved and get themselves up to speed in the real estate markets.”

The USU Real Estate Association provides opportunities for career development, educational events, mentorship, networking, and property tours in real estate for students at USU.

More information about the Real Confidence University Challenge including all final portfolio results and rank can be found at 

Real Estate Final Numbers