Alumni Profile: Robby Karver (BA '06)
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"When students leave UW-Madison's real estate program, they will absolutely have the tools to be successful in life."
This month, real estate alum Robby Karver shares his views on global real estate trends and provides some words of wisdom for young professionals considering a career in real estate. Robby works as a manager in Ernst & Young's Transaction Real Estate Group based in Miami, Florida. His advisory concentration includes real estate assets ranging from traditional residential and commercial uses, to non-traditional uses (golf, marina, casino, etc.) and everything in between.
Describe your current position and what an average work day is like for you?
I'm a manager for Ernst & Young's Transaction Real Estate Group based out of our office in Miami, Florida. My advisory concentration includes real estate assets ranging from traditional residential and commercial uses, to non-traditional uses (e.g. golf, marina, casino, etc.), and everything in between. However, my specialty is in the tourism and lodging industry, where I function as one of our leaders in the Southeast US region, as well as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America.
My work broadly falls into two categories. First, I act as an extension of our audit group platform, primarily assisting them from a technical standpoint in reviewing their real estate sector clients' audits on a year-round basis. By way of example, this work can include the review of quarterly fair values prepared internally by the client themselves or by third-party appraisers (very important for SEC-registered clients) as well as the reviewing of purchase price allocations for these same clients. The second category of work falls into the more strategic advisory role. This has allowed me to participate in assignments ranging from due diligence for large and well publicized lodging transactions, down to smaller engagements analyzing individual resort hotel developments throughout Latin America - and everything in between. During an average day, if I'm not having conversations with potential clients on new and exciting projects which they require advisory and due diligence work on, oftentimes I'm leading our team in the execution of an advisory engagement involving a new transaction/development/start-up company on the verge of notoriety.
As a consultant for E & Y, what major global real estate trends are you seeing? What are the major opportunities and challenges you see now and in the near future?
The travel and tourism industry continues to be dominant force globally and often serves as a catapult to growth for many emerging markets. For business travel, as emerging markets continue to see growth in their middle class population, resulting in the creation/entrance of more businesses, one directly observes how real estate fundamentals often lag behind general economic fundaments. For example, today in Brazil, Average Daily Rates for hotels have skyrocketed as a surge in demand has not yet been met with an increase in supply, largely because demand for other real estate uses (e.g. residential and office space) has driven land values high enough that the highest and best use is no longer supportive of a select-service development. As we continue to move towards a more global economy, challenges such as leveling out supply and demand for hotels as to not scare away new business with higher operating costs will continue to be paramount.
What is the greatest benefit(s) you've received from the Wisconsin Real Estate Program?
I can't understate that the foundation to everything I know about real estate I learned through the UW-Madison Real Estate program. From the three approaches to valuation, to appraising techniques, to financing, law, urban planning, and development, not a week goes by when I am not faced with a challenge falling into one of the above categories. While the past five and a half years at Ernst and Young have refined and broadened my knowledge of real estate fundamentals, the bedrock and experience I learned at UW-Madison has helped pave the way for me to feel comfortable in the real estate industry. However, the most important benefit I've received from UW-Madison is a connection to a professional network that expands beyond borders. On many international travels, I've run into numerous UW-Madison Real Estate alumni and have been able to learn from their experiences and insights. Whether on business trips to the Middle East or the southern tip of South America, it truly never ceases to amaze me the reach that the great badger network has and the excitement all parties get when they hear you both were able to experience the same UW-Madison education.
What advice would you give to a young professional considering a career in real estate?
Work hard, set lofty goals for yourself, and follow your dreams. At the end of the day, you need to feel extremely happy and proud of what you are doing day-in and day-out. Leaving UW-Madison's real estate program, you will absolutely have the tools to be successful in life. However, the ones that truly make a name for themselves are those that blend passion with brains and never settle for average.