Letter from the Executive Director
Mark J. Riedy, PhD
On Nov. 18, the Burnham-Moores Center convened a group of 16 senior executives to discuss real estate industry issues and prospects. Residential and commercial real estate lenders, developers, investors and financial services leaders engaged in two hours of candid discussions, which I have summarized below.
With the strong encouragement of those participants we intend to convene similar “small group” off-the-record roundtable discussions among our stakeholders. Some meetings will be limited to members of the Center’s Policy Advisory Board committees and be by invitation only. Others will be open to all of the Center’s stakeholders, in which case we will send e-mails to all stakeholders and then form discussion groups of 25 or fewer. The cost will be minimal – the price of a lunch.
The Nov. 18 participants reflected the traditional, ever-hopeful and entrepreneurial spirit of real estate executives everywhere, though they wrestled with the reality of most regional real estate markets bumping along the bottom. In contrast to a year ago, however, when that bottom in many instances still was downward sloping, today’s bumpy bottom is flat in most cases and surprisingly more upward sloping into daylight in some areas. Strongest demand among the improved markets appears among virtually all “A” quality products, multi-family in general, and some but limited retail. Investors with liquidity are bidding up prices in these areas perhaps to levels difficult to sustain.
One executive indicated that his firm had invoked the ABC policy (Anywhere But California). Heads nodded in resignation about the poor quality of K-12 education; excessive regulation and taxation; municipal and state government deficits compounded by pension shortfalls; absence of a pro-business climate; and, questionable job growth. Reactions to the ABC policy cited San Diego’s and California’s need to play to their strengths in a knowledge-based economy. However, other observers challenged the ability of the State’s university systems to maintain the quality of their education programs and also pointed out that even knowledge based jobs (paralegal work, accounting, financial analysis, radiology reports and others) are being outsourced to other countries. In the ensuing conversation, participants analyzed the demise of manufacturing jobs (formerly middle income jobs for high school graduates) and their substitution with hospitality and leisure jobs at significantly lower wages.
On the more positive side, bankers’ moods and intentions were “much more encouraging than they were one and two years ago.” On the very short term horizon they commented on larger banks’ efforts to clean up their balance sheets before year end by moving more troubled assets into the marketplace. Also, developers mentioned increased interest and opportunities for adaptive re-use, both ground up (bulldoze, then build) and the renovation of existing buildings. With roughly three years history of little new development in this region, and the likelihood that projects conceived today not hitting the market for at least three more years, this six year window of no significant development should mean that projects coming on market in 2013-14 will be received favorably by the market. Attendees also cited historically low interest rates and construction costs as supportive of real estate markets for those with equity and liquidity.
I could fill this entire issue with more of the hopes and fears these 16 real estate executives shared with us and one another. Instead, I invite readers to e-mail me if you would like to participate personally in a future small group roundtable discussion. Depending upon the level of interest we will schedule one or more in convenient off-campus locations (a two-hour lunch session worked well) and reach out to those who have responded affirmatively. Without exception, every senior executive who participated Nov. 18 was glad they attended and walked away with substantive fresh insights.
Dr. Mark J. Riedy
|(Left to right) AMB Property Corp. president Hamid Moghadam and Cruzan│Monroe principal Dennis Cruzan discuss the current state of the industry with the audience at the Nov. 30 Breakfast at the BMC event.
Close to 175 industry professionals and students gathered Nov. 30 to hear Hamid Moghadam, chairman of the board and CEO of AMB Property Corp., speak at the Center’s Breakfast at the BMC event, held at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. Dennis Cruzan, principal and co-founder of Cruzan│Monroe, moderated the program.
During his appearance, Moghadam, who is originally from Iran, gave the audience his engaging story of settling in the U.S. He originally came to attend college at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and after college he was planning on going back to Iran but ended up on the west coast because of the great blizzard of 1978. He was almost deported back to Iran after the Hostage Crisis in Iran in 1979, but managed to stay in the country. He then decided to attend Stanford Graduate School of Business and soon after began his career in San Francisco.
Moghadam spoke about the many challenges he and his partners faced with their start up company in the early 1990s, especially raising funds during a recession. The two things that got him through this challenging time he said was his fear of failure and his great partners.
“This was probably the worst time to start a real estate career―other than now,” he said.
The main difference this time around Moghadam said is that now we don’t have the oversupply problem we had in the 1990s. He believes what has saved us this time around is that we don’t have much overbuilding, that in the 1990s there was not much organized capital and the interest rates are much lower now.
“I think there will be better deals in a year or two, but it won’t be like the early 1990s” said Moghadam.
Overall, he is very optimistic about the industry's future, although he knows there are still many obstacles ahead. In order to remain competitive, his company started investing in other countries, starting with Mexico in 2002. To date, AMB Property Corp. has invested in 15 countries throughout the world. To Moghadam, the two countries with the most promising economies are Brazil and China, which he said are growing at rates between 5 to 10 percent annually.
Moghadam also encouraged event attendees looking for work in their mid-career’s to go overseas, especially if they have language proficiencies, such Spanish or Mandarin. In a private meeting with graduate and undergraduate USD students held after the main event, Moghadam advised the students to pursue their passions.
“Your passion and desire should dictate what you decide to do, not the next great thing. Do what gets you up in the morning.”
The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate is pleased to welcome Annie Grand, the Center’s new manager of student and alumni services. Grand fills the vacancy left by Lauren Lukens, who was recently promoted to the position of director of the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program. Grand is a 2006 graduate of the University of San Diego’s School of Business Administration. After graduation, she took a job with an entertainment touring company before coming back to work at the university in 2008. Since then, Grand has worked as the program coordinator for both the Master of Science in Executive Leadership and the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management programs within USD’s School of Business Administration before coming to the Burnham-Moores Center. She currently serves as the president of the USD North San Diego County Alumni Chapter.
Several Burnham-Moores Center faculty and staff represented the Center at this year's Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held in Chicago Nov. 17-19 by the U.S. Green Building Council. The conference drew close to 30,000 sustainable building professionals from across the country and around the world. Former Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin L. Powell gave the keynote address to the audience.
On Nov. 18, the Center’s director of academic programs Charles Tu, PhD, co-presented a follow- up to the 2009 landmark study, “Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense for Investors,” where researchers examined more than 150 office buildings in 11 top U.S. markets. The updated report was titled "The Business Benefits of Green Buildings SmartMarket Report." The following day the Center’s distinguished research professor, Norm Miller, PhD, co-presented on a panel that discussed the topic “Sustainable Market Trends and the Future of Green Investment.” This was Tu’s first time and Miller's third time as Greenbuild speakers.
In addition, Ines Kraft, PhD, the administrative director of the Center's MSRE program, represented USD's real estate program and met with attendees interested in our graduate degree.
Photo courtesy of Fred Salamon Photography
On Dec. 1, students who completed the requirements of the University of San Diego's real estate continuing education certificate program celebrated their graduation in a ceremony attended by their families, friends and some of their instructors. Graduation was held USD's Manchester Executive Conference Center. Paul Twardowski, vice president of Hines, delivered the keynote address to the students before presenting each student with their diploma.
A total of 26 students graduated in this year's class; 11 completed the Certificate in Finance, Investments and Development and 15 completed both the Certificate in Real Estate Entitlement, Development and Design and the Certificate in Finance, Investments and Development. Since the Real Estate certificate's program's inception in 2006, over over 450 companies have sent students to the program.
The next real estate continuing education course—"Urban Development Strategies" taught by Jeff Graham, vice president of Centre City Development Corp.—begins Jan. 11. On Jan. 19 Gary London, president of The London Group Realty Advisors Inc. will lead a one-evening continuing education seminar—"The Real Estate Process." Go here for more information or to register for the course and/or the seminar.
|Director of academic programs and professor Charles Tu explains the requirements of USD's Real Estate Program to undergraduate students Nov. 9.
On Nov. 9, undergraduate sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in graduating with a major or minor in real estate attended an informational meeting on the real estate program on campus. Several of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate faculty and staff gave the students an introduction to the Center, detailed the services the Center offers its students, overviewed the real estate curriculum and explained several upcoming case competitions that the students are encouraged to participate in during the spring semester.
An undergraduate real estate major began being offered in the Fall 2009 semester, marking a milestone for USD’s real estate program. The real estate major, offered though the university’s School of Business Administration, covers a broad range of social and economic issues in real estate and prepares students for careers in commercial investment and financing, development, commercial and residential brokerage and leasing, property management and appraisal, among other rewarding career paths. Currently, 74 students at USD have declared either a major or minor in real estate.
|(From left to right) Annie Grand '06 (BBA), the Center's alumni and student services manager, Scott Darnell '05 (MSRE), Mark Riedy, PhD, the Center's executive director, Mary Ann Yaghdjian, '07 (MSRE), Ron May '07 (MSRE) and Brett Kondrick '08 (BBA) attended the REAA executive board recognition dinner on campus Nov. 18. Current members not pictured include Victoria Crown '08 (MSRE), Jimmy Harris '06 (BBA), Kevin Meissner '06 (BBA) and Will Strong '09 (MSRE).
On Nov. 18, members of the Real Estate Alumni Association (REAA) executive board celebrated and were recognized for their past year of hard work at a dinner hosted by the Center at the La Gran Terraza restaurant on the USD campus.
In 2010, the REAA raised over $3,000 toward real estate scholarships at the fourth annual real estate scholarship bowling event, and gathered together hundreds of USD alums working in real estate at a variety of events including their signature USD Real Estate Alumni Market Watch events held each quarter in various popular venues around the city. For the first time this year, the group produced a “Lessons Learned in Real Estate” event with local real estate legends in association with ULI’s San Diego Young Leaders group and three other local universities, attracting over 200 students and young professionals.
The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate established the REAA in 2005 to foster the special relationship that real estate alumni have with the university and each other. The association’s mission is to provide a forum in which graduates of USD who work in real estate can interact for business, social, educational and employment opportunities.
The executive board meets once a month, and is currently looking for a few new members to join. If you are a USD alum and are interested in joining the board, e-mail the current president of the board, Mary Ann Yaghdjian, '07 (MSRE) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Louis Galuppo, Esq.
Louis Galuppo, Esq., director of residential real estate of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, was one of several local real estate industry experts who were invited to participate in The Daily Transcript's Residential Real Estate Roundtable Nov. 9. The experts discussed the state of the residential real estate market and its outlook in 2011. The discussion can be found online at www.sddt.com.
Galuppo also spoke at the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Young Leaders meeting in La Jolla with Tony O’Neill of Voit Real Estate Services Nov. 10. The speakers discussed the topic, “Distressed Note Sales,” and Galuppo gave comparisons of today markets vs. the early 1990s and told the group about his experiences with the FDIC.
|Stephen Conroy, PhD
Stephen Conroy, PhD, associate professor of economics in USD’s School of Business Administration, had his co-authored paper, “An Estimation of the Coastal Premium for Residential Housing Prices in San Diego County” published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. The research paper discussed the premium paid for top-tier coastal single family properties in the county.
On Nov. 9, Vivek Sah, PhD, assistant professor of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, and his wife Saumyata welcomed their first child Venya Sah. Venya weighed 6.25 pounds at the time of her birth.
In the News
Alan Gin was mentioned in several articles following his October release of the USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, which he compiles for the Burnham-Moores Center. Articles appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune, North County Times, La Jolla Light, San Diego Reader, KPBS, Eastlake Times, Sandiegonewsroom.com, and Builderonline.com. Gin was also interviewed for a KPBS segment Oct. 29 on the economic philosophy behind increasing a city sales tax.
Louis Galuppo was quoted on his forecast of the residential real estate market in a Nov. 10 The Daily Transcript article after participating in a residential real estate roundtable, hosted by The Transcript. An independent blog also posted the article on its Website.
On Nov. 17, the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, CB Richard Ellis and McGraw-Hill Construction released the second phase of a study that found that sustainable buildings generate stronger investment fundamentals than their traditionally managed competitors. The study was referenced on Newsblaze.com, Go4moresecret.com, Realestaterama.com, Sandiegorealestate-1.com, Thefifthestate.com, Redlightrevolt.com and an independent blog.
The updated study was presented on at the 2010 Greenbuild International Conference, and later reported on in a Nov. 24 Reuters article.
Norm Miller and Alan Gin were included in the Nov. 20 edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s “EconoMeter.” The topic addressed this week was whether mortgage interest deductions should be eliminated.
The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Breakfast at the BMC event featuring AMB Property Corp. CEO Hamid Moghadam was reported on in a Nov. 30 The Daily Transcript article.