A team of students from the Virginia Tech Program in Real Estate won first place in the second annual Meritage Homes Residential Real Estate Challenge hosted by the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. 

The win, announced at the end of 2014, marks the second victory for a Virginia Tech team in this competition.

Competing teams had ten days to analyze the challenge topic and submit a response paper on the effect of increasing debt burden of student loans on first-time homebuyers. The challenge asked students to examine the impact of student-loan debt on first-time home buyers, discuss policies that have been implemented to mitigate this problem, and provide additional solutions.

The winning team included:

  • Amy Cohen of Virginia Beach, Virginia, a senior double majoring in finance in the Pamplin College of Business and real estate;
  • Christopher Lomaka of Henrico, Virginia, a junior double majoring in building construction in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and real estate; 
  • Cody Owens of Abingdon, Virginia, a senior real estate major; and
  • John R. “Jack” Senske of Long Beach, California, a senior double majoring in property management in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and real estate.

The team will share the first-place prize of $5,000, and they will make a presentation on their winning report at the Program in Real Estate Industry Advisory Board meeting in April.

"This win is a testament to Kevin Boyle, director of the Program in Real Estate, and associate director Rosemary Goss, and our faculty on the work they have done over the past several years in order to get this program where it is today," said Lomaka.

In addition to winning this challenge, the real estate program recently achieved another milestone, reaching 100 students enrolled in the major in its second year of operation.

Virginia Tech’s Program in Real Estate offers a comprehensive interdisciplinary bachelor of science degree in real estate that builds on existing strengths in six colleges — the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Pamplin College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and College of Natural Resources and Environment. The program’s experiential courses integrate disciplines such as finance, law, construction, and property management by examining commercial, residential, retail, and mixed-use property from initial project conceptualization through sale or management. 

Graduates of the program are prepared to enter the real estate industry and make immediate professional contributions.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Rory Halligan of Manchester, Vermont, a sophomore University Studies major.
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