Selling Off Harvard


Like a bankrupt duchess trying to raise money by turning her castle into a bed and breakfast, or like, well, the New York Times, Harvard University is trying to raise cash by selling its real estate. According to a piece by Shayndi Raice, Craig Karmin, and Shelly Banjo in the Wall Street Journal:

Harvard University’s $26 billion endowment is looking to unload a chunk of its $5 billion real-estate portfolio as it seeks better investment opportunities and to reduce its exposure to the troubled property market.

The university’s endowment is willing to sell any part of its $5 billion of real-estate assets and accompanying future capital commitments, say people familiar with the matter. That figure represents $2 billion in property holdings and an additional $3 billion in future commitments to those assets.

Harvard, which last year needed an emergency $2.5 billion loan as a result of risky investments, is now trying to sell about $500 million in real estate assets.

Good luck with that. According to the Journal article Harvard might have trouble selling because “it intends to maintain an ownership position of at least 51% in each of the real-estate partnerships.”

Stanford University also tried to raise money by selling assets last year. The school eventually gave up on the plan when bids turned out to be too low.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer