Harvard Student Real Estate Financial Modeling Workshop

Building on the Harvard Alumni Real Estate Board’s mission of enhancing the experience of real estate students at the University, last month the board offered a Microsoft Excel-based workshop through Real Estate Financial Modeling (REFM), a trusted modeling tutorial company. The first in a series of student-facing trainings for the 2017/2018 academic year, this class brought together over 70 students from the Harvard Student Real Estate Consortium (HSREC)–affiliated schools, the College, the Graduate School of Design, and the Business, Law, and Kennedy Schools to participate in this two-day workshop.

REFM joined us in Cambridge to teach this 16-hour course that combined lectures with hands-on exercises. The course began with fundamentals of using Microsoft Excel for modeling, with an emphasis on those formulas, shortcuts, and strategies most applicable to discounted cash flow analysis. As the course progressed, students put these skills to use in a case study format, with financial modeling exercises based on hypothetical real estate development scenarios. Students learned how to model unlevered and levered property-level cash flows for a mixed-use development as well as waterfall cash flows for an equity joint venture for an individual property transaction.

The training was an exceptional opportunity for University students to take a deeper dive into modeling—enhancing their classroom learning in this arena. Beyond traditional skills-based learning, workshops provide the opportunity for students from across campus to engage in peer-to-peer networking. The workshop allowed those in attendance to forge and expand relationships with fellow students from diverse disciplines and build strong networks that will serve them through their tenures both as students and as alumni of Harvard.

Andrew Wade, MDes Real Estate and the Built Environment ’18, a participant in the REFM training, explains the value of the modeling workshop from the student’s viewpoint: “The real estate financial modeling workshop gave me exposure to what potential employers might expect in an interview test, going beyond the minimum requirements to give me a competitive advantage. It also allowed me to network with students entering real estate from across the graduate schools and the College, many of whom remain friends and collaborators. The workshop is invaluable in setting the bar of expected financial modeling proficiency in the professional world, and in giving us the resources needed to exceed those expectations.” 

Extracurricular programing such as REFM are meaningful features of the board’s calendar of student programming. On behalf of the student participants, we would like to thank each of you for your continued generosity. Special thanks to Wayne Barwise, MUAD ’85, for his generous Sustainer-Level gift that helped to underwrite this training.