Newcomers have descended on South Florida, taking over housing and commercial space at unprecedented speed. The rental construction market is on fire. Inventories are low and land prices are exorbitant.

However, in these “good times”, challenges remain for the real estate industry. Can affordable housing for workers be built in a market as expensive as Miami? What will happen to the millions of square feet of mall space that remains vacant?

The Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU Business brought together over 200 professionals to explore these challenges and opportunities and explore what lies ahead. Its inaugural real estate conference, “Real Estate: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond”, was held on October 8 at the InterContinental Miami hotel.

“Real estate is Miami, and Miami is FIU,” said Eli Beracha, professor and director of the Hollo School of Real Estate at the opening of the REact 2021 conference.

Amidst many networking opportunities, the public has learned that even in today’s South Florida real estate market, the challenges of housing affordability and land costs remain on the horizon.

Anthony M. Graziano

Keynote speaker Anthony M. Graziano, CEO of Integra Realty Resources, noted that while technological advancements and the growth of real estate as a publicly traded investment category have impacted the market, the main factors that are determining the current environment are the influx of federal stimulus spending and a boom that is unique to South Florida.

“It’s what I call the X factor,” Graziano said. “[Miami Mayor] Francis Suarez has taken to a national stage, creating a revolution of people who talk about Miami as if we were San Francisco. The luxury housing market has exploded, not only in Miami but in Palm Beach and parts of Broward County, he added.

Still, not everything has prospered, Graziano said. Hotels could take another 24-48 months to return to normal, and malls are lagging even further behind – but neighborhood retail is picking up, he said.


Glenn Rufrano MS ’74, CEO of VEREIT, a NYSE-listed real estate investment trust, spoke at the conference from New York. With millions of square feet of retail space in VEREIT’s portfolio, Rufrano noted a decidedly mixed outlook for shopping centers.

“Defining ‘die’ is not easy,” he said, sharing estimates that America’s 800-1,000 malls today will shrink to around 400 malls in 10 to 20 years. First-class A malls, with good locations and strong tenant mixes, will continue to do well, he said, while others will adopt blended offerings including housing, health centers. or close completely.

One session included a “flash talk” during which four FIU commercial real estate professors discussed their research in the field. In another session, panelists emphasized the importance of face-to-face contact and office presence to a successful career in real estate.

“A new generation is entering our field,” said Maria Juncadella, Senior Director at Fairchild Partners. “Those of us who have reached a certain level have the trust of our customers, we depend on that trust more than ever because of the nature of technology. “

Participants also learned about the technology that is transforming the business, including several companies bringing AI tools to land use and zoning analysis and personalized insights to the sale and bidding process. .


Lorenzo Perez, President of Premier International Properties, moderated a panel that discussed the technology and innovation that is reshaping the industry.

“There are macro forces happening right now that are going to impact real estate prices in the long run,” Perez noted.

Being able to explore these questions in a conference was a big plus for the participants. William Hardin, founding director of the Hollo School, who now serves as interim dean of FIU Business, stressed the importance of returning to real estate as part of the ‘new normal’ – and stressed the need to create an environment worthy of the global city that Miami has become.

“Let’s create the best-built environment possible and make it accessible to everyone,” Hardin said. “And let’s have fun doing it.”

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