Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

Diary of a Travelling Academic Studying the Impact of the Panama Canal on Global Trade

The Professor

One of the wonderful perks of being an academic is that most of us have the summers “off”. They are not really off, as many of us work hard on our research or take students on summer tours to study real estate… but that is often in a fun and exotic place. I have been fortunate to have that experience this summer. Last month, I spent a week in Panama studying the Impact of the Panama Canal on Global Trade (and in turn real estate). I also spent the last two weeks in the UK where I visited family and friends in the property profession (including several other authors for the Property Chronicle, Andy Baum and Nick French). In addition, I met lots of old colleagues and met new colleagues at the European Real Estate Society meetings where we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the European Real Estate Society (ERES), the 25th Anniversary of the International Real Estate Society (IRES) and the 150th Anniversary of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).  If you have never been to an ERES meeting I strongly encourage you to put it on your list. They are typically held in late June or early July and this year I learned a tremendous amount. There were sessions on technology, big data, the housing affordability crisis that is clearly happening all over the world, sustainability and climate change, corporate real estate, REITs, finance and capital markets, education, etc. You name it and there was a session on it. In addition, I saw old friends and colleagues but more importantly made new friends from Africa, Turkey, Australia, Brazil and even Mongolia!

If you are not aware of the IRES, I also encourage you to consider attending one of the sister society meetings as well.  As a founding member of the organisation, I am probably biased but it is an umbrella organisation with six regional societies. Each one holds an annual meeting: American (in April), European (in June/July) Pacific Rim (in January), Asian (in July), Latin American (in October), and African (in October). As with ERES, you will find hundreds of real estate academics and practitioners trying to gain a better understanding of real estate as an asset class. Attendees share research results and data. There are doctoral students as well as forty-year veterans that are retired from the industry but addicted to real estate (failing retirement and interested in helping the next generation of property professionals avoid the mistakes of the past). The meetings are open to everyone, so look at your diary and plan to attend. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. My biggest take away was on how important technology is becoming to our field and how important it will be for us to embrace this trend and get up to speed as quickly as possible as things are changing so rapidly. A bit overwhelming, but an important thing to keep in mind going forward.

Now, back to my experiences in Panama. We took a crew of 12 students and 2 faculty for a weeklong study tour of Panama. We visited companies and real estate developments as well as the port and the three stops along the canal. We had some history lessons (had no idea how many animals crossed from N. America to S. America, the Biomuseo has an incredible exhibit), some cultural lessons and many business lessons. The course is designed to teach real estate students about global logistics and to teach global logistics students about real estate and how they are literally tied at the hip since linkages, linkages, linkages (not location) is the name of the game in commercial real estate.

Panama is an incredibly exciting country right now with the expansion of the canal. Their economic situation is strong and they have a tremendous number of tax incentives and other programs to encourage economic development, particularly for regional headquarters and entrepreneurs. In addition, they are courting the retirement community as well building waterfront properties in numerous parts of the country.

The Professor

About Elaine Worzala

Elaine Worzala

Dr. Elaine Worzala, CRE, FRICS is the Director of the Carter Real Estate Center at the College of Charleston. She got all three of her degrees (doctorate, masters and undergraduate) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an active member of several academic associations as well as professional organizations including research projects she has completed for RICS, ICSC, PREA and NAR. She believes strongly in bringing relevancy to her classroom from her research projects. She has published articles in many of the mainstream real estate academic journals as well as industry-based publications and other media. Her research interests are applied and lie primarily in institutional real estate investment, valuation and real estate education. Additionally, many of her studies take on an international perspective as she works to open up the borders as they relate to real estate markets. Primary teaching interests include real estate valuation, investments, and feasibility analysis as well as the introductory real estate process course and international real estate investment. She has held academic appointments at Colorado State University, University of Connecticut, University of San Diego, Johns Hopkins University, Clemson University, San Diego State University and the College of Charleston. She has also co-taught a summer Research designs course at the University of Aberdeen. Dr. Worzala has received numerous awards including the American Real Estate Society (ARES) Grasskamp Award, the ARES Education Award, and the ARES Distinguished Service Award. From the International Real Estate Society she was awarded the Achievement Award and the Bert Kruijt Service Award for outstanding service to IRES. She is a Fellow in the Weimer School, a member of Lambda Alpha International, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, and designated as a Counselor of Real Estate. She is the director of the doctoral program for the James Webb American Real Estate Society Foundation. She is also currently serving on the national board of the Counselors of Real Estate, the Advisory Board of the Real Estate Research Institute (she was on the national Board), and the Southeastern board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Articles by Elaine Worzala

Our Partners