MSIRE Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Lay

Jonathan Lay

Jonathan Lay

MSIRE Program sets the path for real estate recovery and success.

Amidst a faltering real estate market and its ultimate collapse in 2008, Jonathan Lay searched for new, stable opportunities. In South Florida, the market had softened and jobs were difficult to find.

Already an FIU undergraduate alumnus, Lay enrolled in the Hollo School of Real Estate’s Master of Science in International Real Estate (MSIRE) program, where he found the tools to stand out in spite of rapidly plummeting property values.

Today, Lay (BBA,’07, MSIRE,’08, MSF,’09) uses his decade-plus real estate and business finance experience to help customers realize their immediate and long-term goals.

“Miami is now a global market where investors want to own more property,” said Lay. “They aren’t just looking at New York and Los Angeles anymore.”

In 2011, Lay joined boutique real estate firm Fairchild Partners, specializing in landlord-tenant representation and seller-buyer representation as well as the acquisition and disposition of office and retail assets. The MSIRE, accompanied by a Masters in Finance obtained in 2009, provided the foundation that drives his success.

“Ownership and leasing of multi-tenant offices or retail properties requires a lot of responsibility and hands-on work,” said Lay. “MSIRE gave me an in-depth understanding of the commercial real estate industry, the different asset types and how to analyze risk.”

Another valuable lesson from MSIRE: teamwork.

“At Fairchild, teamwork is very important, and at MSIRE most of our courses revolved around working in teams and sharing opinions to find consensus,” he added.

According to Lay, the current market is primed for investments in ownership of office real estate. Large-scale trades and leases have pushed Miami-Dade County’s industrial sector into the forefront of the region’s commercial recovery.

During Lay’s tenure at Fairchild, the firm has represented companies such as Facebook, Anheuser-Busch, Feeding South Florida and Baptist Health South Florida. It is the exclusive landlord representative for developments like Downtown Doral and Kendall Summit Office Park.

At 120 acres, Downtown Doral has a mix of residential, open-air retail and restaurants, office space and a charter school. Lay noted that Downtown Doral is a clear example of how the commercial real estate market in South Florida is thriving. In 2012, when Fairchild won the project, rental rates were $19-$21 per square foot. Today, they stand at $30 and occupancy at mid-80 percent.

“A lot of factors go into determining the value for property ownership,” said Lay, who also has BBAs in international business and real estate from FIU, and is fluent in Italian. “To really understand where the market is going and what tenants want requires a strong leasing team.”

Laying the groundwork for success.

Ten years ago, FIU’s College of Business established the MSIRE program with a clear mission: to provide graduates with the vision and skills to become leaders in an increasingly global real estate market. The program has grown into national prominence and is shaping the next generation of real estate leaders.

FIU’s MSIRE program counts 91 current students and 322 alumni. The Hollo School is ranked #1 in the U.S. and #2 globally for real estate research by the Journal of Real Estate Literature.

As MSIRE celebrates its 10th anniversary, Lay reflects on the industry’s ups-and-downs and his future in a now-thriving marketplace.

“Commercial real estate isn’t easy when you start in it,” said Lay. “MSIRE gives you a complete understanding of the industry and the different asset types.”

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