Students pose next to statue at University of Miami.

MSRE team takes third in environmentally conscious case competition

Students and faculty hold check awarding $5000. GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In April, a team from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business’s Nathan S. Collier Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program placed third in the Impact Investing in Commercial Real Estate Competition.

Fifteen teams qualified to compete at the Miami Herbert Business School, where the school’s Real Estate Advisory Board distributed $25,000 in prizes to the top four winning teams. Alexander Azar (MSRE ’24), Chris Kennedy (MSRE ’24), Ruben Restrepo (MSRE ’24), Boyd Merrill (MSRE ’24) and Zachary Flaksman (MSRE ’24) represented the Warrington College of Business as the first all-MSRE team to enter a real estate case competition.

“We feel grateful to have even been afforded the opportunity to participate in the competition,” Flaksman shared on behalf of the team. “This was UF MSRE’s first time entering a case competition, and we did not expect to do so well and go so far. We’re proud of ourselves and glad we could represent the MSRE program in such a great way.”

Impact investing is defined by its intention to generate a measurable and beneficial social or environmental impact alongside an appropriate financial return. Competitors were challenged to pursue this type of investment by selecting a vacant or under-utilized commercial property and reimagining how its site could be used to make a social or environmental impact.

“The competition’s highlights were learning more about the development process,” Flaksman said. “Additionally, learning more about impact investing and the fact that real estate can have such a great benefit to society was another highlight of the competition. In terms of challenges, picking a real estate development with an impact-based focus while also producing a necessary return for investors was difficult, but it made it more worth it that we were able to ultimately figure both problems out.”

Students pose next to a screen displaying a digital real estate model. The team prepared for the competition by completing individual tasks and meeting weekly to assess their progress. Clinical Assistant Professor Steve Martin advised their preparations, helping the team feel confident that they were ready to compete.

“This experience has motivated us to always keep in mind how real estate affects our society and, hopefully, given us the tools to one day participate in impact investing ourselves,” Flaksman concluded.