Interview With UM’s Real Estate Program Director: “What To Expect From Miami Commercial Real Estate?”

Dr. Andrea Heuson is the academic director of real estate programs and a professor of finance at the University of Miami’s Herbert Business School. Specifically, the University of Miami’s Herbert Business School offers a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Real Estate and an Accelerated Master’s of Business Administration in Real Estate.

The University of Miami also hosts an annual Real Estate Impact Conference, which most recently took place on February 25, 2022. This conference featured speakers like the founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, Sheila Johnson, the CEO of WeWork Sandeep Mathrani, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, and Principal of Arquitectonica Bernardo Fort-Brescia.

Dr. Heuson sees an especially bright future for the already glowing Sunshine State. She started off by saying, “I believe we certainly have the resources and brainpower to solve the issues we face as a growing city, and we have people working 24/7 in order to build a better Miami.”

Read on for more insight on the future of Miami and Florida real estate.

The Increase in Population Is Changing Miami

This year’s Real Estate Impact Conference was the first once since the COVID-19 pandemic and over 580 people attended. The conference was hosted at one of University of Miami’s newest campus developments and there was a lot of excitement towards getting back together, coming to UM’s campus and learning about what’s cutting edge in Miami real estate and commercial real estate in general. Dr. Heusen discussed the insightful panels that covered where Miami fits in the global world and Miami’s future as a technology hub as more tech companies relocate to the city.

However, tech companies aren’t the only ones relocating to Miami, according to Dr. Heusen. She believes that the recent migration of not only capital, but also people, is likely going to result in a change in the character of the population, especially in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County.

According to Dr. Heuson, “Our past demographic in Florida has been dominated by older people, retirees or people coming very close to that retirement age.” Therefore, commercial real estate in Florida has always revolved around this older demographic by focusing on retirement facilities and condos on the beach. With this new influx of younger people moving to Miami, Dr. Heuson foresees greater possibilities for redevelopment in Miami’s urban core and more opportunities for newly developed real estate North of Miami as a result of better public transportation.

How Miami Will Need To Adapt

For example, Dr. Heusen mentioned the potential for redevelopment of Miami’s urban core between Flagler Street and Miami to attract younger people.

Dr. Heusen predicts that the “​​urban core between Flagler Street and Miami Avenue, which has been in the dark for quite a while… is just now beginning to come back into the light with plans of redevelopment, and this is all being designed to attract younger people.”

Dr. Heusen also highlighted the importance of public transportation throughout this transformation. Specifically, the free Metromover and Brightline high-speed rail system that’s slated to be extended all the way up to Tampa and Orlando.

What this access to public transportation provides, according to Dr. Heusen, is more freedom for younger residents to live in one place but work in another. For example, some people may live in Broward County but work in Miami. Eventually, the commuting situation may end up looking similar to that of New York City, where people live on Long Island but work in Manhattan.

At the same time, all this new development isn’t without its challenges, and Dr. Heusen mentioned sea level rise as a primary concern for the future. Additionally, the cost of living and affordable housing are current issues that will continue to present challenges for years to come.

The Commercial Real Estate World

The good news is that Dr. Heusen, along with the University of Miami Herbert School of Business, is preparing students to tackle these challenges and launch successful careers in the real estate world through their interdisciplinary program with UM’s school of architecture and their focus in new urbanism.

As a classically trained finance professor, Dr. Heusen stated that real estate is very inefficient compared to other markets, “Real estate is not a very liquid asset, it takes months to sell a property, and price information is not immediate…what those characteristics do is give you a market where prices don’t always reflect the most recent information.” The University of Miami’s accelerated MBA in real estate helps students develop the skills needed to look at a property and make good buying, selling, lending, and investment decisions. According to Dr. Heuson, a key focus of the program is to “…learn how to use data to enhance your returns without taking on so much risk…also leveraging data in the construction process and how to decide which investment properties are on the right path as far as growth and demand.”

Dr. Heusen’s best advice to those looking to break into the industry is to get experience where you can, including internships with firms, or shadowing someone in the industry, even if it is unpaid. Dr. Heuson states that real estate is a very “deal-based business”, and an internship can give you access to watch the innerworkings of a deal and help you develop valuable skills to build your career in commercial real estate.

The Miami Real Estate MBA

The Miami Herbert Business School offers an accelerated MBA in real estate that puts a strong emphasis in experiential and hands-on learning. Student’s enrolled in the University of Miami’s Real Estate program are put in a paid internship upfront for 6 months and Dr. Heuson states that this gives graduate students “…the opportunity to deep dive into a job or a project, and then come back to school with a whole new view of what they are learning in class.”

The University of Miami's accelerated MBA in real estate is one of the only real estate graduate programs in the country that offers a paid internship upfront. According to Dr. Heuson, many of the big graduate real estate programs in the U.S. are located in agricultural areas, which means they don’t have that “…local nexus of internship opportunities that we have here in Miami…so we can ask students where they want to work or what they want to do and we can likely find them 2-3 different firms here with ties to the university.”

Both Vaster and Fortune International are dedicated to enhancing the future of Florida real estate and those who will lead the way. That’s why we are a proud partner of UM and The Miami Herbert Business School, and we house at least one business school intern per year, with some of our interns transitioning to full-time roles after graduation. 

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Andrea Heuson | The University of Miami

Real Estate Impact Conference | The University of Miami

Career & Professional Development | The University of Miami

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