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This week, the Baker Program in Real Estate welcomed back Cornell alumnus Jim Dow (BA, Economics ‘91) for its Distinguished Speaker Series. Jim is an experienced real estate private equity executive with an extensive background in opportunistic real estate investment management. Jim began his career at Lehman Brothers in the early 90’s and has since worked at many prominent institutional real estate investment management firms including J.E. Robert Companies, Westbrook Partners, Barrow Street Capital, and Ivy Realty.
Jim is currently the head of acquisitions for St. Bride’s Managers LLC in North America. St. Bride’s is a global real estate investment firm based in London with affiliates in New York, Sydney, and Hong Kong. In his role as Head of Acquisitions, Jim works with offshore clients and high net worth individuals looking to diversify their portfolios by investing in core United States real estate markets. Globally, St. Bride’s has identified 20 major cities that are the focus of future investment opportunities. Jim noted that these cities have strong real estate fundamentals, as well as political and economic stability. When advising clients, Jim is concentrated on domestic markets including, but not limited to, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Dallas. Jim advises clients based on their investment preferences, expected timeline and hold periods, and relative risk profiles. Primarily, his clients are interested in core and opportunistic investments in highly desirable and sought-after locations. While each client may possess a different investment profile and have unique preferences, investors typically seek long hold periods and properties with stable cash flows and relatively low levels of risk.
When considering investment opportunities, Jim emphasized a few components to review when evaluating potential investments. Location is a crucial consideration as his clients seek investments situated in highly desirable markets that are less susceptible to rent and vacancy fluctuations in the face of an economic downturn. Proximity to public transportation, employers, schools, amenities, and cultural hubs is also a fundamental consideration. Having strong demographics within a market is also important, as densely populated urban areas with larger employment bases and access to consumers consistently provides attractive long-term investment opportunities. Finally, the credit-worthiness of tenants is paramount as they supply the underlying cash flows upon which investors rely.
Jim concluded his presentation with a few takeaways that have been vital to his success in the real estate industry. He emphasized the importance of networking and how leveraging the Cornell alumni network has enabled him to build lasting personal and professional relationships. Attention to detail and resilience were other skills that Jim attributed to his success as a real estate professional.
The Cornell real estate community enjoyed hearing Jim speak at the Distinguished Speaker Series. Baker students hank him for sharing his knowledge and experience.