Real Estate Maven

Michelle Muñiz ’16, MS in Real Estate, USD School of Business

Tuesday, January 16, 2018TOPICS: Spotlights

Michelle Muñiz ’16, MS in Real Estate, USD School of Business
begin quote“I wanted to do something that would impact the community in a positive way,” she says. “I wanted to be a part of a solution that would make a difference here.”

During her 2800-mile road trip from Long Island to San Diego, 21-year-old Michelle Muñiz had a lot of time to contemplate her future. “I didn’t know exactly where I was headed, but I felt strongly that when I found where I needed to be, I’d know it, and San Diego was that place,” she says. She landed a job and saved up to purchase a condo in Mission Valley. That first real estate transaction became much more than a home. It ignited a passion that led her into a lifelong vocation.

In San Diego, Muñiz was reunited with her high school sweetheart, married, and soon found herself moving all over the country as a military wife and busy mom of three young children. Through it all, she craved a professional challenge, and real estate was just the thing to satisfy that need. She attained her real estate license and began selling houses. Soon, she was buying them too. By the time her husband, Jorge, returned from his tour of duty in Iraq, Michelle had purchased eight properties. “I found my passion in investing,” she says.

With each Muñiz family move, Michelle purchased more homes —today she manages 20 properties across the country. So when her husband was assigned to return to San Diego, Muñiz saw an opportunity to take her career to the next level to build her future in real estate.

San Diego had changed since she last lived there. Muñiz observed an increase in homelessness and development of multi-family homes. She wanted to understand the causes and conditions behind those changes.

“I wanted to do something that would impact the community in a positive way,” she says. “I wanted to be a part of a solution that would make a difference here.”

Muñiz turned to the Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program at the University of San Diego (USD) School of Business to find answers and bolster her career.

Rising to the challenge.

Returning to school after almost 20 years was intimidating at first. But her instructors and the team at the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate encouraged her to keep going. “Their passion, leadership and mentorship made me want to learn more so I could accomplish more,” says Muñiz.

Juggling her busy family schedule with a full academic load, Muñiz also assumed an assistantship under Professor Norm Miller, Hahn Chair of Real Estate Finance. She was an editor for Miller’s book on real estate sustainability. Muñiz was also a USD team blogger at the annual Marché International des Professionnels d'Immobilier (MIPIM) conference in Cannes, France, where a select number of University of San Diego School of Business MSRE students are chosen each year to serve as official bloggers given the quality of their writing.

Upon graduation in 2016, Muñiz was awarded the Daniel B. Woodruff Memorial scholarship. The $2,500 award is presented each semester to the most outstanding student pursuing a career in real estate who best epitomizes Woodruff’s positive qualities of academic excellence, warmth, determination, intellectual curiosity and unabashed love for humankind.

Most students would be flattered, even grateful for the award, however Muñiz’s first thought was distinct. “I wanted to give the money away,” she says. “The scholarship wasn’t about the money —it was about the confidence that it gave me.”

She used the scholarship money to create the Khalid Mohammed Memorial Scholarship, an annual $4,000 award named for her uncle who was an inspiration to her family. The award provides financial support for women in the MSRE program. “I want to encourage and inspire women,” she says. “I want women who enter this program to have the confidence and affirmation that they can accomplish great things.”

Working with purpose.

Through her MSRE degree and industry connections she developed through Burnham-Moore Center for Real Muñiz secured an internship with the San Diego Housing Commission. That role provided her the hands-on experience she needed to quickly catapult her career into a position where she could positively impact her community as real estate executive. Muñiz currently works in real estate development for the Affirmed Housing Group in San Diego.

Today, Muñiz applies her unique experience and business savvy to the acquisition and development of rehabilitation and new construction projects throughout California. Although she’s at a point in her life where she could consider slowing down, the 45-year-old executive feels her career is just taking off. And she’s exactly where she needs to be.

“When I think about my journey, it’s not about what I’ve accomplished, it’s about how others have impacted me and how I’ve impacted other people,” she says. “I’m ready to continue to take my career to the next level.”