The Role of Real Estate in Endowment Portfolios: The Case of Christ Church College
The case centers on Christ Church's Treasurer, James Lawrie, who is contemplating his options for investing a portion of the College's endowment in real estate. Approximately 1/3 of the total $690 million endowment was allocated towards real estate, much higher than the typical 4% allocation by his American counterparts. Differing from many US endowments, real estate has remained a vital part of the Christ Church endowment since its founding in the mid-16th century. The College began with significant real estate holdings originally received from Henry VIII, which seeded the College's endowment. In the early 1980s, real estate represented 70% of the endowment's holdings and from 2002-2015, Christ Church's direct investments returned c.10% annually. Lawrie contemplates the future role of real estate in the College's portfolio, assesses the performance of the "US Endowment Model" and compares Christ Church's performance against others as he weighs a variety of investment strategies including; redevelopment, land sales, specialist funds, pooling capital with the other Oxford Colleges, and taking on more debt considering the once-in-a-generational low interest rates.