Graduate students at FIU’s Hollo School of Real Estate placed in the top five in the 2016 ARGUS Software University Challenge, scoring an honorable mention. This year, 39 universities from the U.S. and abroad, participated in the competition, the largest group since it began in 2011.
FIU students have a strong record of success in the Argus Challenge. The latest win marks the third time in four years that a Hollo School team places in the top five in the rigorous national competition.
This year, the FIU team competed against Columbia University, Cornell University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, National University of Singapore, UCLA, University of Edinburgh, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, and Yale, among others.
“It wasn’t just by luck that we were in the top five. You have to be very good to stand out from the others,” said Zhonghua Wu, associate professor at the Hollo School, who served as the team’s advisor. “The win shows the significance of this competition. Our team put together an impressive product.”
In this year’s competition, teams analyzed a 3 million square foot suburban office park owned by a real estate investment trust (REIT) since 2004. They faced three options: sell the park to a single buyer, parcel the park and sell the land to retail, office and restaurant developers, or maintain it as-is and pursue only office and retail development.
“We decided to go with the first option as this yielded the maximum returns for our client in a relatively short period of time, said Anahi Quino, leader of FIU’s team in the competition. “The resale revenues of the other two options could not justify the high costs associated with the redevelopment.”
Students participating in the competition used ARGUS Enterprise software to create real-world investment strategies and to support the recommendations before the competition’s judges.
A dose of reality.
The ARGUS Challenge required a solid grasp of economic data and real estate trends, but also the academic grounding to analyze the case and strategize, communicate findings and prepare a convincing report.
“These are high quality, motivated students, many with professional experience,” said Wu. “They were able to combine that background with the knowledge and skills learned in class.”
Quino pointed out that the real estate and finance courses taught in the Hollo School program helped the team better analyze the property and the financial implications each scenario presented. Plus, an introductory class on the ARGUS software gave the students a better understanding of the analytical capabilities.
In addition to utilizing the information provided in the case, the FIU team conducted extensive research on the real estate landscape as well as asset and capital markets to help them formulate strategies to maximize the investment’s potential.
“The competition was a great learning experience. We worked as a team and leveraged our strengths throughout the process to develop the right strategies,” said Quino, who graduates in June. “The hardest part was deciding which strategy to follow. As we extrapolated details from the case study, other variables came into play which drove us into different directions; however, we were able to collectively determine the best course of action.”
The Hollo School team:
- Anahi Quino
- Magaly Sanz
- Altagracia Labrozzi
- Claudia Gutierrez
- Yesid Nickolas Jimenez