Jindal Students Flourish in the Rigorous Appraisal Field

Jindal Students Flourish in the Rigorous Appraisal Field

JSOM students who have interned or worked at the IRR Dallas/Fort Worth office include (left to right) Joseph Pytcher, Babak Davani, Robin Ahmadi and Vernon Williams

Five University of Texas at Dallas students have found success at one of the nation’s top real estate valuation companies, all because of classes they completed at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Some are interns, some are full-time employees, all took classes with either Dr. Randall Guttery or Frank Anderson, both JSOM finance faculty members.

Integra Realty Resources, a commercial real-estate valuation, counseling and advisory company, identifies itself as the largest independent firm in its industry in the U.S., with 66 independently owned offices. Its services are used by financial institutions, developers, corporations and government agencies to assess the value, use and feasibility of real estate.

Jody Hassemer, CPA, the chief financial officer of the Dallas office and head of human resources, said the UT Dallas students arrive “with a great skill set for what we need. And they go above and beyond what’s expected.”

Interns at the company work with a group of four appraisers, doing research and collecting data. They track the details that make up an appraisal. For interns, learning opportunities abound. “They learn how to be a little intuitive about collecting data,” Hassemer said. “They work on all sorts of different projects and get exposed to different property types.”

Babak Davani, an analyst intern last semester, said the “position plays a very important role at Integra.” President of the Financial Leadership Association at UT Dallas, a student organization, Davani said appraisers could not complete their valuations without his research and analysis. “I’ve taken a valuation course at UT Dallas as part of my MS in Finance degree, so I understand what the appraisers are doing, and I understand the importance of my contribution.”

Finance faculty member Frank Anderson (left) and Joseph Pytcher

Finance faculty member Frank Anderson (left) and Joseph Pytcher

Joseph Pytcher, an MBA student with a bachelor’s degree in finance, works full time as a real estate analyst at IRR. He had worked in the mortgage industry during his undergraduate years but wanted to work as an analyst to utilize his finance degree.

“I wanted to stay in real estate since I have been on the residential side for quite some time,” Pytcher said. However, being with IRR, it pushed me over to the commercial side. Learning about what actually goes into the valuation and how the value is determined are what interest me.”

Randall Guttery

Randall Guttery

Guttery, whose expertise ranges from real estate economics to commercial mortgage markets to securitization, valuation and appraisal, oversees JSOM’s cluster of real estate classes. Some universities offer real estate degrees, but Jindal School’s approach is different. Most UT Dallas students interested in a real estate career major in finance and take real estate courses. BS, MS and MBA students also may select the real estate concentration, a subset of courses that provide industry-specific training.

“These students are somewhat self-selecting,” Guttery said. “Real estate isn’t a blowoff concentration. It has a high degree of academic rigor because of the analytics involved. “These are very high-achieving students,” he said, “with high expectations.”

Anderson said that JSOM students enter the profession with especially strong analytic skills — sometimes not the focus in other universities’ degree programs.

From IRR’s perspective, it is a great way to find people who are “good fits” in real estate analysis and valuation, Hassemer said.

“Although nobody grows up thinking, ‘I want to appraise commercial properties when I grow up,’ ” Davani said, the internship “gave me the opportunity to explore the appraisal field as a career.”

Hassemer said that is why internships are so important. “What happens is [students] like real estate, but they see development as a career — not appraisal.”