Equipping the workforce

A new course will train real estate professionals in workouts and turnaround situations. PERE March 2010 issue

It’s a complaint we hear voiced regularly across the US real estate investment community: the industry has largely lost the workout and turnaround skills built during the RTC crisis of the late 1980s.

Michael Buckley is hoping to change that after launching a fast-track, intensive repositioning and restructuring course at the University of Texas at Arlington – the first of its kind in the US, according to Buckley.

This is about trying to train the next generation of workout professionals.

Michael Buckley

The director of Columbia University’s MSc in Real Estate Development, who spent 11 years building the New York university’s development school, said with few transactions and almost zero development taking place today skills had to change. Teaming up with the University of Texas at Arlington in Dallas, Buckley has launched a three-month programme largely focused on building debt workout, due diligence and asset repositioning skills. The certificate in property repositioning and turnaround strategies is now training its second set of students after first starting last September.

The choice of Dallas, Buckley added, was deliberate. Home to the national headquarters of the US banking regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and with a heavy concentration of law firms, private equity real estate investors and special servicers, Dallas is expected to be at the epicenter of the commercial real estate workout world for the next few years.

“This is about trying to train the next generation of workout professionals,” Buckley, also president of development advisory firm Halycon Ltd, said. “The litigation environment alone will be a huge factor affecting how real estate investors operate in the next few years. Lawsuits will be entertained broadly as there are many investment tranches, and mezzanine/equity layers to be unravelled to achieve viable property solutions.”

University of Texas is not alone in offering distressed real estate training, PEI Media's PEI Training is offering a two-day course on real estate turnaround skills in New York on 16-17 March.