Des Moines Monopoly tournament raises money, awareness for UNI real estate education

Des Moines Monopoly tournament raises money, awareness for UNI real estate education

Monopoly is hectic enough with friends and family. Now imagine playing in a room full of real estate professionals, with just an hour to earn the most assets and move on to the final table. There, you’re pitted against the best of the best, with a crowd watching.

Sounds stressful, doesn’t it? But also, kind of fun.

The annual Monopoly tournament, a fundraising event hosted by Peoples Company and its president Steve Bruere (‘03), provides that exact opportunity, and with proceeds going toward a great cause. Since its inception almost two decades ago, the Monopoly tournament has raised almost $100,000 for the Wilson College of Business’ Center for Real Estate Education. All proceeds support the program’s innovative curriculum, student activities and operating expenses.

I really look forward to this every year,” Bruere said. “You’re sitting there playing Monopoly with industry professionals but also with students. It’s competitive, it’s fun and it’s also selfishly a little bit of recruiting for us with the winners.

Real estate students and professionals playing Monopoly

This year’s edition, hosted at the Embassy Club West in West Des Moines, raised more than $20,000, a record. The event brings together real estate students and alumni, many of whom are sponsors. Bruere came up with the idea when thinking through unique ways to raise money, provide networking opportunities and raise awareness for the school. He always loved Monopoly, and the game has a nice tie to real estate negotiation and strategy.

Here’s how it works: Participants are divided among several tables. For an hour, participants play what can only be called speed Monopoly. They roll the dice quickly, build up assets and negotiate with other players to gain an advantage. After an hour, the six players with the most assets move to the final table, playing the same way but against the best players in the room.

At the end of it all, the person with the most assets is the winner. This year, that person was UNI student Karlie Welbes (‘24). Welbes played in 2023 but admits she wasn’t prepared for the intensity level. This year, she was ready. She moved to the final table and beat Bruere, the man himself.

“I learned quickly how to go with the flow of the game,” Welbes said. “My strategy was to buy everything I landed on, then do deals on the side. My strategy at the final table was to keep up with Steve."

Not a bad plan.

Welbes added that the event is a great way to network with fellow UNI students, alumni and real estate professionals. And after hosting this tournament for so long, Bruere says that’s also his favorite part. He catches UNI alumni who remember participating in the tournament as students.

“I think our proudest achievements with this event are the awareness for the program and connecting with students,” Bruere said. “Every year, students come down for this tournament and you can’t really forget a Monopoly tournament like this. You get to impact a lot of people.”