PREA James A. Graaskamp Award - 2023 Recipient

Michael Acton

PREA's biennial James A. Graaskamp award was presented to Michael J. Acton at PREA's 33rd Annual Institutional Investor Conference on October 19, 2023 in Boston MA.

As one of the founding members of AEW Research in 1990, Michael J. Acton has accumulated over three decades of expertise as an economic analyst and forecaster.  Since 2006, Mike has held the position of AEW's Head of Research and Strategy for North America.  The resources offered by AEW Research are an essential component of the firm’s successful investment process.  Mike collaborates closely with senior experts from all sectors of the firm to formulate core through opportunistic equity and debt investment strategies that align clients’ risk and reward objectives with prevailing market prospects.  Additionally, he played a vital role in shaping the strategy for AEW's listed securities business, which was launched in 1995.  During his career, Mike has also actively contributed to the development of various proprietary research tools, notably playing a key role in the creation of the highly regarded and widely read AEW Relative Value Index.  He holds a permanent position on the Investment and Risk Management Committees within the organization.

Mike is frequently sought after to speak and offer guidance to the firm’s investors and their advisors.  He has been hosting regular research-oriented gatherings such as luncheons and forums in various national and international locations for close to 20 years.  These interactive events provide a platform to share AEW's insights into the economy and property markets with the firm’s clientele and beyond.  In this capacity and as an integral part of AEW's relationship management efforts, Mike has always viewed himself as an "extension of staff", working to enhance the knowledge of clients and advisors, and furthering the importance of REIM research within the institutional investor community globally. AEW’s client surveys and testimonials time after time call out Mike’s ability to weave otherwise complex ideas into understandable, relatable context, frequently with an historical perspective. As a student of the real estate markets (going back many centuries), Mike’s own cycle-tested knowledge and experience makes him viewed as a voice of reason, with insights that are particularly coveted in the industry during times of volatility and crisis.

In his capacity as a Managing Director and a participant on AEW's Management Committee, Mike contributes his leadership prowess to the organization.  His insights are greatly valued, and he consistently adopts a grounded perspective when addressing the intricate dynamics of both the macro and micro aspects of the economy, helping lead to the development of strategies within traditional sectors as well as niche sectors from senior housing in the mid-1990s to cold storage in the most recent decade. Mike’s expertise extends to deciphering how these dynamics influence the potential opportunities while effectively maneuvering through ever changing market cycles to improve client outcomes.  Prior to joining AEW, Mike worked as a regional economist with DRI/McGraw-Hill where he managed the Metropolitan Area Forecasting Service.  He is a graduate of Bates College (B.A.), a CFA charter holder and a counselor of real estate (CRE).  Mike is currently a member of the PREA research committee and the Real Estate Research Institute (RERI) advisory board.

Outside of AEW, Mike resides in the historic town of Harvard, MA with his wife of 36 years, Miriam, where they enjoy frequent gatherings with their three accomplished adult daughters.  The family shares a passion for the arts, and actively supports both live musical performances and children’s literature.


Past Recipients of the James A. Graaskamp Award


David Shulman
Salomon Brothers, Inc.


Tony Downs
The Brookings Institution


Jeffrey Fisher
Indiana University


Blake Eagle
Frank Russell Company


Charles Wurtzebach
Heitman Capital Management Corporation


Susan Hudson-Wilson
Property & Portfolio Research


S. Michael Giliberto
J.P. Morgan Investment Management, Inc.


Leanne Lachman
Schroder Real Estate


Wylie Greig
The RREEF Funds


Michael E. Miles
Fidelity Management & Trust, Co.


Jacques N. Gordon
LaSalle Investment Management


Glenn R. Mueller
Legg Mason Wood Walker, Inc.


Kenneth Rosen
Haas Business School, University of California


Doug Poutasse
AEW Capital Management


Raymond Torto and William Wheaton
Torto Wheaton Research


Peter Linneman
Linneman Associates


David Geltner
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Mike Kirby
Green Street Advisors


Joseph L. Pagliari Jr.
University of Chicago Booth School of Business


Will McIntosh
USAA Real Estate Company


Mary Ludgin


Robert M. White, Jr.
Real Capital Analytics Inc.


Michael J. Acton
AEW Capital Management


About the Award


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