Published: May 3, 2011

For the second year running, the undergraduate team from the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business made the final round and finished in the top three of the highly competitive USC Marshall School of Business International Real Estate Case Competition. CU is the only school to make the final round each of the last two years.


front row (l to r): Courtney, Gracie, Matt, Kyle. back row (l to r): Curtis and Mark.

The school was represented by five Leeds School of Business seniors: Mark Christ (finance), Gracie Coburn (finance), Courtney Colbert (marketing), Kyle Rhatigan (marketing) and Matt Ullrich (accounting). Their performance and results belie the fact that it was the first competition for all five team members.

Other competing schools included National University of Singapore, University of Auckland, University of Wisconsin, New York University, University of San Diego, University of North Carolina, Villanova and host school, USC. CU earned its way to the final round against Singapore and Wisconsin by winning its first round against Villanova and North Carolina. Singapore ultimately claimed this year’s competition; Wisconsin placed second CU placed third.

The competition involves a complex commercial real estate transaction involving a broad range of quantitative and qualitative real estate issues. The competition plays out over five days. The teams are given the case Monday morning the week of the competition. They then have until Thursday afternoon to analyze the case and prepare a written summary and 20-minute presentation of the team’s analysis and recommendations. Finally the team travels to USC and competes head-to-head against the other schools in the presentation portion of the competition on Friday.


The presentations are made to and judged by a panel of real estate industry professionals from around the country. Success in the competition requires strong analytical skills (financial, site, market), effective presentation skills and the ability to adeptly handle some tough Q&A from the judges.

At CU, the students try out for the team at the beginning of the spring semester. Those selected work with Leeds School faculty including Dr. Tom Thibodeau, Adam Massey, Susan Watts, Curtis Sears, the CU Real Estate Center (CUREC) staff, Angelina Ramos, a CU alumna and communications/speaking consultant, and many industry professionals recruited from the CU Real Estate Council, to practice and develop their analytical, presentation and Q&A skills. Of course, once the competition begins, the students are on their own.

CU’s consistent performance has marked the university as one of the perennial favorites in the competition. The success is priceless for the student participants as last year’s team members all secured excellent real estate jobs following graduation. And it’s equally good for the real estate program at the Leeds School as the competition is garnering the attention and interest of both existing and prospective real estate students and also engages a number of the Real Estate Council’s members.

It’s likely safe to say that no one at CU is disappointed with such success at a competition hosted by one of Colorado’s notable new peer schools in the Pac-12.

Special thanks to Curtis Sears who accompanied the team on their journey for the second year. Congratulations to the team and everyone who contributed to another great showing by CU!