Four MBA Students Win MIT Real Estate Competition

Real Estate Competition Winners

Villanova, Pa., June 7, 2017 — A team of four students from the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate at the Villanova School of Business (VSB) won first place in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2017 Real Estate Case Competition, also known as the CASE, hosted by the MIT Center for Real Estate Alumni Association.

The team included Michael Kirby ’17 MBA, Alan Kocher ’17 MBA, Jonathan Lea ’17 MBA and Austen Reichhold ’17 MBA who were coached by Business Fellow and Faculty Advisor Tony Ziccardi. The competition, now in its ninth year, attracts students from top masters programs around the world. This marks VSB’s first win in the contest; VSB has sent five teams to the competition in recent years, with four making it to the semi-finals.

“The DiLella Center for Real Estate is extremely proud of this accomplishment by our MBA students,” Ziccardi said. “The team expertly delivered a professional proposal and presentation. This win strengthens our presence among many full-time masters and MBA programs in several prestigious universities.”

In late April, each of the competing teams were provided an undeveloped parcel for which they were tasked with formulating an original development proposal within a ten-day period. Each proposal required a development program based on market data, a comprehensive financial plan, architectural renderings, and letter of intent. During the competition, teams were not permitted to solicit help from faculty or other third-parties.

Approximately a month after sending submissions to the competition committee, each team was invited to Boston to present their proposal to a panel of senior real estate executives serving as judges. After competing in the final round against teams from Cambridge, Yale, Cornell, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and MIT, Villanova was selected as this year’s winning team. MIT and Cornell finished second and third respectively.

Lea credited much of the win to the varied skill sets across the team. “If it had been a team with four versions of any one of us, we would not have been as competitive,” he said. “However, within our team, there was a broad spectrum of design, construction, and financial expertise.”

“We knew the past VSB teams had performed well, so expectations were high,” said Kocher. He continued, “This was our opportunity to bring home the first MIT case win for Villanova and it felt great hearing our names announced as the winners knowing how hard we worked to deliver a winning proposal.”

The team expressed their gratitude for the important role VSB faculty and staff played in facilitating their participation. “Without support from VSB professors like Tony Ziccardi and Charlie Davidson and the DiLella Center Director Jessica Taylor, we would not have had the same outcome,” said Kirby.

The Villanova School of Business (VSB) undergraduate program is ranked #1 in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek and has been at the forefront of business education since it was founded in 1922. Serving over 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students, VSB is home to six Centers or Institutes of Excellence (the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, the Center for Business Analytics, the Center for Global Leadership, the Center for Marketing & Consumer Insights, the Center for Church Management & Business Ethics and the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute) with each center and institute designed to foster innovative, cross-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities for business faculty. VSB is known for academic rigor; creativity and innovation; hands-on and service learning opportunities; a firm grounding in ethics; and an applied education that prepares students to become outstanding leaders and global citizens within the ever-changing, complex, and fast-paced world of business. For more, visit

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