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Letter from the Executive Director

Mark J. RiedyMark J. Riedy, PhD

September 2012 begins the countdown to our Fall 2013 celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the University of San Diego’s real estate program.

Throughout the last 19 years, one of the major forces driving USD’s real estate program has been our determination to involve real estate professionals in everything we do. The genesis of this objective emerged from the first on-campus industry-oriented conference we sponsored—a teleconference headlined by government officials in Washington, D.C. Of approximately 100 attendees on-site, the vast majority never had been on the USD campus. I resolved then and there to build an organization dedicated to bringing the real estate industry to campus, and taking our students and activities off-campus and into the community.

Breakfast at the BMCThe timing of the founding of USD’s real estate program was fortuitous in that the early 1990s witnessed a substantial expansion of real estate programs in universities across the globe. Their expansion, though widespread, was not without challenges. Although courses and in some cases degrees in real estate were inserting themselves into business, planning and architecture programs, questions of the need for and academic legitimacy of real estate curricula haunted start-up programs and slowed their growth. From an industry perspective, many successful executives whose education came from on-the-job training questioned the value of a formal education in their discipline.

Over the life of USD’s program, the benefits of formal academic studies in real estate have been recognized widely, gained the respect of traditional faculty members and real estate executives and proliferated at universities across the globe. Reflecting those trends, in 2004 the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate was endowed and named because Malin Burnham, John Moores and the senior managers and brokers of Burnham Real Estate Services—now part of Cushman & Wakefield—demonstrated their belief in us by pledging $5 million to help ensure our future sustainability.

Leveraging the momentum of achievements in the program’s first decade and the $5 million endowment gift that launched the second decade of USD’s real estate program, USD faculty, administrators and Trustees approved our Master of Science in Real Estate program (MSRE), which accepted its first class in the fall of 2004. In 2007 USD faculty and administrators approved an undergraduate minor in real estate; in 2009, they approved an undergraduate major.

As USD’s real estate program gained in popularity, simultaneously we developed a host of industry-oriented conferences to advance our outreach and cement our connections in this region. When we celebrate our 20th anniversary in the fall of 2013, we will point with pride to our 17 Annual Real Estate conferences, 13 Residential Real Estate Outlook conferences, two Women in Real Estate conferences, the sixth year of our Breakfast at the BMC distinguished lecture series and the ninth year of the Center’s Continuing Education program. More than 2,000 industry executives annually attend our conferences and nearly 1,000 employees from about 400 companies have registered for CE programs. Registrations for undergraduate and graduate real estate programs number approximately 9,000 since the founding of the real estate program. More than 100 industry leaders serve on the Center’s four committees to assure their relevance. Lastly, large numbers of USD alumni are pursuing careers and assuming leadership roles in the real estate and financial services industries. 

We are gearing up for next fall’s 20th anniversary celebration of the professional marriage of San Diego’s real estate and financial services industries to the Burnham-Moores Center and USD students. At the same time we are actively undertaking a strategic planning process to ensure that the Center’s service to this community will continue to flourish over the next 20 years. 

To the thousands of industry professionals and students whose lives and careers we have touched, we say thank you for your faith in us. Our 20th anniversary celebration will be as much about you as it will be about USD’s real estate program.

Dr. Mark J. Riedy
Executive Director

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MSRE 500 Kicks Off Year for Ninth MSRE Cohort

Process Week
MSRE students (from left to right) Nikolas Parrish, Matt Bean, Zabrina Johal, Inna Panchuk, Evan Lippow, Tony Konstant, Anthony Ly, Gregor Connors and Bryan Masters on the harbor cruise hosted by the School of Business Administration Sept. 4

The ninth cohort of the Master of Science in Real Estate program kicked off the academic year Aug. 27 with MSRE 500, an intensive course designed to expose new students to the MSRE program, the university, the real estate industry and San Diego.

During the jam-packed course, students listened to presentations given by a variety of civic, real estate and university leaders and alumni on a broad range of real estate topics and issues, including local demographic issues, real estate development and community planning. Students also attended workshops on Microsoft Excel skills, business writing, financial concept fundamentals, managing their professional image, and presentation and research skills to help prepare them for the challenging year ahead.

Outside of the classroom, students toured the construction site of the Mercado del Barrio project, which will bring a local grocery market, neighborhood-supporting retail and affordable housing to families in the Barrio Logan area in San Diego. The course ended with a harbor cruise hosted by USD's School of Business Administration, where the cohort got to know their fellow graduate business students, faculty and staff.

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Registration Now Open for Argus Training

ArgusRegistration is now available for the Burnham-Moores Center’s Argus training workshop for industry professionals. The workshop will be held Saturday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 3 for those who want to learn the key features of Argus Valuation-DCF, which is the industry standard for commercial real estate cash flow projection and investment/valuation analysis.

Professor Charles Tu, PhD, will teach the two-day workshop. Tu has served as faculty adviser for the winning “Argus Software University Challenge” Master of Science in Real Estate teams each year of the competition and has helped dozens of MSRE students become Argus Software Certified.

The two-day workshop costs $600; a 10 percent discount is available for USD alumni and multiple registrations. To register, go here. For questions, contact

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Silvergate Bank Funds New BMC Scholarship

SilvergateSilvergate Bank, headquartered in La Jolla with five branches, has funded a new scholarship for Master of Science in Real Estate students. The scholarship, valued at $2,500, will be awarded to a deserving student from a low- to moderate-income household. “We’re very excited to be offering this scholarship to a locally based institution and look forward to building on the wonderful relationship we have developed with USD over the last 15 years,” says Derek Eisele, executive vice president of the bank, which has been operating in San Diego for the past 24 years.

For information on the Silvergate scholarship criteria, contact Annie Grand.

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Center to Co-Host Oct. 3 Forecasting Conference with Chris Thornberg, John Chiang

John Chiang Chris Thornberg
John Chiang, California State Controller
Chris Thornberg,
founding partner of
Beacon Economics

The Burnham-Moores Center is co-hosting the 2012 San Diego Economic Forecast Conference with Beacon Economics and Silvergate Bank on Oct. 3 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

Speakers include John Chiang, California State Controller; Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics; Norm Miller, professor at the Burnham-Moores Center; and Jordan Levine, director of economic research at Beacon.

The Burnham-Moores Center is offering special discounted pricing of $120 to the event. To register, go here and enter discount code: bmcusd.

Attendees will receive a 2012 San Diego Economic Forecast book and one year of quarterly updates to the San Diego forecast.

For questions about the event, contact

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Common Interest Developments—California Supreme Court Enforces Arbitration Provision in CC&Rs

By Richard Schulman, Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley LLP

Richard Schulman
Richard Schulman, Esq.

A recent decision by the California Supreme Court will make it much easier to take construction defect cases to arbitration rather than court. In Pinnacle Museum Tower Association v. Pinnacle Market Development (US) LLC, the Court upheld a provision in the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) of a large, mixed-use condominium project in San Diego requiring that construction defect claims be arbitrated rather than litigated.

Arbitration has had an unusual history in California. Although court decisions frequently describe arbitration as a favored means of dispute resolution, recent opinions nevertheless found many arbitration provisions to be unconscionable and therefore unenforceable. “Unconscionable” originally meant that an agreement did not merit enforcement because it shocked the conscience, but more recent California decisions tended to apply the label whenever the court thought an agreement was unfair. This tendency has been especially pronounced in labor and consumer situations; for example, when an employee manual or a cell phone contract required arbitration of disputes. In Discover Bank v. Superior Court, for example, the California Supreme Court refused to enforce an arbitration agreement because it precluded class actions.

In the Pinnacle case, the trial court refused to order the homeowners association (HOA) to arbitrate its construction defect claims against the developer because it believed that including the arbitration requirement in lengthy CC&Rs was unconscionable. The Court of Appeal affirmed in a published opinion, adding that the HOA could not have consented to arbitration through the CC&Rs because the HOA did not exist independently of the developer when the CC&Rs were recorded. Although the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) applied in Pinnacle, the Court of Appeal concluded that the lack of consent meant there was no agreement that could be subject to the FAA.

A key factor for the California Supreme Court was the nature of the arbitration provision in question. The arbitration provision in the Pinnacle CC&Rs stated that the HOA and individual owners would not pay any more in costs than if they had gone to court. It also assured that construction defect plaintiffs could seek the same relief they could have sought in court. These features helped ensure that the use of arbitration would not in itself favor the developer.

Arbitration is usually faster and less expensive for all parties than litigation through court.

Although the case arose in the context of CC&Rs, the Pinnacle decision is a ringing endorsement of arbitration generally. The majority opinion holds that including an arbitration provision in CC&Rs is not unconscionable, and that the HOA is bound to arbitrate. Beyond the real property issues, though, the majority opinion rejected a tendency of lower courts to discriminate against arbitration by treating arbitration provisions differently from other contract provisions. For example, the Court of Appeal in Pinnacle had held that people who later bought condominium units had consented to being bound by the CC&Rs, but they were not bound by the arbitration provision because waiving a right to jury trial required special consent. The Supreme Court explained that that was the nature of arbitration, and that courts should not require different consent for arbitration.

One interesting and potentially important part of the majority opinion is a clear statement that CC&Rs are contracts. The case is unusual in that it generated four opinions: the majority opinion signed by five justices, two separate concurring opinions and a dissent. Justice Werdegar’s concurring opinion rejects the contract analysis, but concludes that an arbitration provision in CC&Rs is enforceable nevertheless under real property principles as an equitable servitude. The concurring opinion of Justice Liu, who was also in the five-justice majority, synthesizes the majority opinion with Justice Werdegar’s concurrence. Only Justice Kennard dissented.

Arbitration, particularly in an era of judicial budget cuts, is usually faster and less expensive for all parties than litigation through court. Notwithstanding the opposition of the Pinnacle HOA, in fact, construction defect litigation can often hurt individual homeowners because the delay of the litigation can make it difficult to sell or refinance their homes. The Pinnacle decision broadly reinforces the utility of arbitration and will make it easier to enforce arbitration in many contexts, not just CC&Rs.

Richard Schulman is a land use and appellate attorney with HechtSolberg, the real estate firm that drafted the Pinnacle CC&Rs. He drafted the petition for review and briefs on the merits of the case for the prevailing party in the Pinnacle Supreme Court case.

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Real Estate Alums Attend Day at the Races

Day at the Races
(From left to right) Real estate alums Wren Arnett ’10 (MSRE), Nick Walsh ’10 (MSRE) and Ron May ’07 (MSRE) pose for a photo with SBA Dean David Pyke, PhD, at the Alumni Day at the Races Aug. 19.

The Real Estate Alumni Association co-hosted the Alumni Day at the Races with USD’s Alumni Association and the School of Business Administration’s Alumni Association Aug. 19 at the Del Mar Racetrack. The event was sold out with nearly 120 USD alumni networking and betting on the races. The fifth race was particularly special as it was named after the USD Alumni Association, and two USD alums, Dani Oliver ’10 (MBA) and Viwena Jim ’02 (BA), won the opportunity to enter the winner’s circle after the race.

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Norm Miller Speaks at National, Local Events

Norm Miller
Norm Miller, PhD

Professor Norm Miller, PhD, presented at a June 28 Webinar, “What Are the Data Telling Us? The Economics of Green Buildings,” which was part of the National Association for Business Economics Real Estate Roundtable. On Aug. 15, Miller spoke about sustainable real estate trends at the local chapter of Certified Commercial Investment Members’ monthly lunch meeting. On Aug. 23, he spoke at an Appraisal Institute Webinar on integrating market conditions. That same day, he spoke at a Commercial Real Estate Women Network’s Webinar, which discussed graduate real estate programs.

To view the PowerPoint presentations, go here.

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Mark Riedy Makes Who’s Who in the World List

Mark J. Riedy
Mark Riedy, PhD

Mark J. Riedy, PhD, executive director of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, was recently selected for the 2013 edition of “Who’s Who in the World” due to his outstanding achievements in the real estate and banking industries. Riedy has been listed in “Who’s Who in America” since 1982 and “Who’s Who in the World” since 2005.

Back to TopIn the News

Norm Miller, PhD, and Associate Professor Alan Gin, PhD, were included in the Aug. 3, Aug.10, Aug. 17, Aug. 24 and Aug. 31 editions of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s weekly “EconoMeter.”

A guest column written by Executive Director Mark Riedy, PhD, on the Treasury’s proposal to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce loan balances was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune Aug. 5.

Norm Miller, PhD, was quoted in an Aug. 19 San Diego Union-Tribune article on real estate investors in San Diego County. Policy Advisory Board Commerical Real Estate Committee member Curtis Gabhart also was featured in the article.

Alan Gin, PhD, was mentioned in the San Diego Business Journal, the North County Times, San Diego 6, The Daily Transcript, NBC San Diego,, KPBS and following his July release of the USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, which he compiles for the Burnham-Moores Center.

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THURSDay, SEPT. 13, 2012

Breakfast at the BMC featuring James Watson, CEO and President of CT Realty Investors

  • 7:30 - 9 a.m.
  • Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, University of San Diego campus
  • $35, includes registration fee and breakfast
  • To register, go here.
  • For more information, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.


Beacon Economics 2012 San Diego Economic Forecast Conference

  • 7:30 – 11 a.m.
  • Hilton San Diego Bayfront, One Park Blvd., San Diego, 92101
  • $120 per individual with Burnham-Moores Center discount code bmcusd.
  • To register, go here.
  • For more information, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.

THURSDAY, OCT. 4, 2012

First-Time Homebuyers Seminar

This free event will provide answers to homebuying questions from a panel of real estate experts. A Q&A session will follow the panel discussion.

  • 12:15 - 12:45 p.m. lunch; 12:45 - 1:30 p.m. seminar
  • Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, University of San Diego campus
  • Free and open to USD faculty, staff, students, alumni and the Linda Vista community
  • To attend, RSVP to Myla Wilson at (619) 260-8803.

THURSDAY, OCT. 4, 2012

Real Estate Alumni Association’s Casual Thursday

Join the Real Estate Alumni Association for a night of networking and reconnecting with friends within the USD real estate community.

  • 6 p.m.
  • Gordon Biersch, 5010 Mission Center Road, San Diego, 92108
  • For questions, contact Annie Grand at (619) 260-7619.

SATURDAY, OCT. 27 AND NOV. 3, 2012

Argus Training

The Burnham-Moores Center will offer a two-day Argus training for industry professionals on Saturday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 3. Argus Valuation-DCF is the industry standard for commercial real estate cash flow projection and investment/valuation analysis.

  • 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Room 226 in Olin Hall, University of San Diego campus
  • $600 per person; a 10 percent discount is available for USD alumni and for multiple registrations
  • To register, go here.
  • For questions about workshop content, contact For registration questions, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.

MONDay, NOV. 5, 2012

Second Annual Women in Real Estate Conference

  • 7 - 10 a.m.
  • Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, University of San Diego campus
  • $45 per person; includes registration fee and breakfast
  • Speakers include: Leanne Lachman, president of Lachman Associates and an executive-in-residence at Columbia University’s Graduate Business School; Lydia Jacobs-Horton, director of Procter & Gamble’s Global Facilities & Real Estate Organization; and Gail Goldberg, executive director of ULI-Los Angeles
  • To register, go here.
  • For sponsorship opportunities or more information, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.

Back to TopContinuing Education - Upcoming Courses and Seminars

STARTS TUESDay, OCT. 9, 2012

Development Feasibility


TUESDay, NOV. 6, 2012

Update on Tax Considerations in Real Estate