ZGREC Event: Drew DeWitt

Drew DeWitt, Associate Acquisition Officer, JP Morgan Global Real Assets Group honored Baruch as a guest speaker of the Zicklin Graduate Real Estate Club.  His focus is on New York, Boston and Philadelphia with mainly institutional real estate funds (i.e. pension funds)

Mr. DeWitt provided the audience a peek into his division and the general investment process at Chase.

Acquisition — buy right to asset management (e.g. maximize value)   to dispositions — sell right with research (analyze micro and macro market conditions and trends.)  Chase, he described, is different than many shops.  They can not use relationships with brokers to the fullest. Chase has to keep a high wall from their lending department.  When there is Chase money on the acquiring assets, his unit has to hire a fiduciary to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mr. DeWitt let out a secret of his success in real estate for those who braved the foul weather.  When looking to buy commercial real estate, look at indicators others ignore.  He advised newcomers to spend time looking at the shoppers, how do they function, how many strollers, what are they buying  and try to get a feel for what the place is about.  This will augment the analytics about the value of a property.

Four cases of recent situations made up the remainder of the presentation.  He spoke about a complex in Austen, TX.  His team was spooked by the development risk in the area.  Something that is less of concern in many parts of the NYC Metro area.

Another case study highlighted the importance of ground-level intelligence.  Good foot work gave his team the intelligence to know what offer to make to whom in a neighboring complex.  It worked out very well for his team in this sour market.

The two remaining cases spoke of today’s market with lenders and with acquisitions.  There are still deals, but it takes a lot more work.  One has to be creative and willing to reframe the situation.

Mr. DeWitt closed with some observations\advice.  He would have liked a break and to get an MBA.  It’s important not to burn out.  He advised the audience to surround yourself with those you admire.  They will push you to do better and will be there for you when you stumble.

On behalf of ZGREC and Baruch College, many thank yous for your time and candid observations.


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