Latest News

Letter from the Executive Director

Mark RiedyMark Riedy, PhD

By a five to four vote, a San Diego city council majority recently mandated substantial increases in linkage fees. It is extremely unfortunate and unfair that two highly respected and important segments of the real estate industry were pitted against one another, much like gladiators who are friends being forced against their wills to battle with one another. Although it only felt like a fight to the death for the losers of the city council vote, the affordable housing industry emerged victorious, while the broader commercial real estate development industry, of which they are a part, came out bloodied and spoiling for another fight, perhaps in an apolitical courtroom rather than in the all-too political council chambers.

ArgusIn high cost cities such as San Diego, the availability of affordable housing, whether financed publicly or privately, is an important and legitimate public policy problem. At the local level, if polled, a majority of taxpayers conceptually would support “more public funding for affordable housing.” When asked to do their fair share in helping to pay for public funding, however, the same people would vote with their feet. In contrast, at the federal level, taxpayers as a whole do fund affordable housing finance programs, including tax credits and housing vouchers, whether they realize it or not. The need to resolve affordable housing challenges is perceived as an overarching societal issue at the national level. Even though private sector for-profit and not-for-profit firms work hard to finance the production and acquisition of affordable housing units, the shortfall of supply versus demand seems to grow larger with each passing year. Therefore, the need for public financing of affordable housing has been elevated to the status of a public policy problem across the nation.

Enter the San Diego’s city council linkage fee five, taking it upon themselves to “do something” about affordable housing (an objective I fully support),  but targeting a jobs-and income-generating activity, forcing the commercial real estate development industry to bear the entire cost burden of increased fees to finance the construction of new affordable housing units is an illogical strategy. To call fee increases paid for entirely by the commercial real estate industry “public” financing is disingenuous. This strategy also penalizes tenants and investors in commercial real estate and inhibits the creation of jobs offering attractive wages. Further, by being directed toward new construction, the available funding will produce far fewer affordable housing units than if invested in existing units.

San Diego’s affordable housing problems are intractable. They seem to grow and intensify with each passing election cycle for a host of reasons, including, but not limited to, San Diego’s plethora of low-paying jobs in retail sales and tourism, compounded by our high cost of land and living. At best, we can manage housing affordability issues, but even the wisest and most well-financed public policy programs will be hard-pressed to resolve them satisfactorily. As a result, the recent five to four decision by San Diego’s city council majority calls into question the viability of this region’s commercial real estate development industry because the linkage fee five apparently could not identify any other politically palatable resources whose money they could spend on financing affordable housing. If our elected officials cannot find alternative funding sources, is the linkage fee destined to become a permanent albatross around the necks of commercial real estate developers?

San Diego businesses and residents have been unwilling voluntarily to cover the costs of public financing of affordable housing construction.  To change their minds and have local businesses and residents consent to paying the equivalent of the linkage fees would demand strong political fortitude. No such luck. It will be difficult for anyone to marshal broadly based support for measures that replace linkage fees and reallocate their burden on a community-wide basis. Nonetheless, San Diego is blessed with civic and business leaders — including many in the affordable housing and commercial real estate development industries — who comprehend fully the challenges inherent in this city’s housing markets. They realize that housing affordability is a generation-spanning issue that requires community-wide support and resources to manage. Sadly, it is all too easy to understand why one or more of these community leaders have not yet taken on the mantle of leadership to do something about the city’s affordable housing challenges. As leaders, these individuals invest their time and effort where they expect to be able to make a difference. Unfortunately, affordable housing is a field where change occurs reluctantly. None of this is to underplay the critical roles performed by a host of affordable housing developers in San Diego and across the nation. Because funding from all sources is scarce, their jobs are exceptionally difficult and demand sophisticated financial, analytical and legal skills as well as a high tolerance for frustration.

I object to elected officials taking it upon themselves to apply an oversimplified political “fix” to a complicated issue the cause of which extends well beyond the reach of the “fix.” Expropriating funds from one industry — not “public” funding by any stretch — to inject into another industry, is political gamesmanship, not leadership.

During my 20 years in San Diego, I cannot recall a time when affordable housing issues weren’t being scrutinized by one task force or another. Recommendations weren’t being hammered out before being put on shelves. One group or another was on the lookout for someone else’s deep pockets to pick in resolving the city’s affordable housing problems “once and for all.” If drastic increases in linkage fees paid for by developers is the best idea on the radar screen of the city council’s majority, it is time once again for private citizens and businesses, supported by professionals in non-profit organizations, to take action. The field is wide open for building a consensus approach to managing San Diego’s affordable housing problems, determining the limits of resources this community reasonably can be expected to devote to managing them over any given time frame and then conducting a community-wide campaign to achieve buy-in on a sustainable program for sharing the public costs of financing affordable housing. At that point the heavy lifting will be completed and implementation will be the easiest part of the entire process.

Mark Riedy
Mark J. Riedy, PhD
Executive Director

Back to Top

Women in Real Estate Conference Highlights Local Leaders

(Left to right) Keynote Beth Fischer, featured speaker Kris Michell and moderator Lori Holt Pfeiler during the panel portion of the Third Annual Women in Real Estate Conference.

The University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate hosted its Third Annual Women in Real Estate Conference Nov. 13 on USD’s campus. The conference featured presentations from two senior real estate executives: Beth Fischer, division president of Pardee Homes, as the keynote speaker, and Kris Michell, president and chief executive officer of Downtown San Diego Partnership, as the featured speaker.

Fischer offered insights on historical residential real estate cycles and her thoughts on what we can expect in the future during her presentation titled, “The Real Estate Cycle – Surviving and Thriving!”

“Real estate and, in particular, the housing sector, is cyclical,” said Fischer. “Prices go up and down, up and down... if you take nothing else away from today, remember that fact.”

Fischer also highlighted the challenges of motivating and managing teams over housing cycles, citing staff cutbacks of two-thirds or more from peak to trough. Fortunately, builders are shifting cautiously back into a growth mode today.

Michell’s presentation, titled “Trends in Urban Development in Relation to Downtown San Diego,” offered a wealth of urbanization statistics and tackled some of the challenges and opportunities that downtown San Diego faces. Michell noted that parking is perceived to be a real problem downtown even though we have plenty of spaces to choose from. “If you say you have 65,000 spaces and people don’t believe you — that’s a perception issue, and therefore a real dilemma,” said Michell.

Michell also touched on the homeless problem downtown. She urged the audience not to enable panhandlers by giving them money and assured everyone that there are ample services available in San Diego to assist those in need. Lastly, she expressed the need for enhanced sustainability, increased activation space, a university presence downtown, better collaboration with the government and an efficient shuttle system.

“It’s the activation space that is critical,” said Michell. “We need to create a vibe that will attract the type of people we want to work and live downtown.”

After the speakers completed their presentations, Lori Holt Pfeiler, executive director of San Diego Habitat for Humanity and former three-term mayor of Escondido, led a lively interactive discussion with Fischer and Michell. Many thought-provoking questions from the audience were raised, such as: What do you think of linkage fees? What are your greatest accomplishments? What would you do differently career-wise if you could? How long will the Fed keep interest rates low? How do you handle gender discrimination in the workforce and How do your salaries compare to your male counterparts? At the end the conference, Fischer, Michell and Pfeiler met privately with undergraduate and graduate real estate students to address career and industry-related questions.

For PowerPoint presentations from the conference, please e-mail Diane Gustafson.

Back to Top

John Kratzer Discusses Petco and Chargers Stadium at Breakfast at the BMC

John Kratzer
John Kratzer (left) answers Dennis Cruzan’s (right) questions at the Oct. 22 Breakfast at the BMC event.

At the Center’s Breakfast at the BMC event on Oct.22, John Kratzer, CEO of JMI Realty, offered insights into his involvement with the 26-block master planned development project in downtown San Diego that ultimately created PETCO Park. The distinguished lecture series, moderated by Dennis Cruzan, principal of Cruzan|Monroe and a member of the Center’s Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee, offered a glimpse into Kratzer’s professional and personal accomplishments that has made him a success in the commercial real estate industry in Southern California and Texas.

Kratzer, who served for many years on the Center’s Executive Committee, was born in Ohio and later moved to Austin, Texas. He was the co-founder of Homegate Hospitality Inc. which later became a publicly traded company and merged with Prime Hospitality. In 1998, at the age of 37, Kratzer met John Moores and JMI Realty was formed.

The two led the ballpark effort and Moores had a “grand vision for San Diego.” Kratzer was responsible for the overall strategic direction of the project. They faced 17 lawsuits throughout the process and knew from the start that they would need to tap into local leaders to aid in the project. 

“The really cool thing was that fundamentally, the people in San Diego wanted to get it done,” said Kratzer about the project. “Malin Burnham and other leaders offered to pitch in to help.”

Kratzer said he learned a lot about himself while managing the project and the most important point that made the project a success was teamwork. Personally, Kratzer said he learned to delegate and trust people to deliver on their portion of the project.

Kratzer felt it would be a huge mistake if San Diego lost the Chargers because it is such a unique city, largely driven by tourism. He stated that the mixed-use facility proposal is a good plan because it would allow the space to be maximized 150 days of the year and could increase the possibility of San Diego locking in a few Super Bowls. “If we lose the Chargers, I don’t think we’ll get another football team back,” he added.

After the event, Kratzer and Cruzan met with USD’s Master of Science in Real Estate students at a private session, where they answered questions from students and offered career advice.

“If you know the basic fundamentals, have passion and a little bit of a personality, you will go far in our industry,” said Cruzan.

Back to Top

14th Annual Residential Outlook Conference - Register Now!

Stan Humphries, PhD

The Burnham-Moores Center will host its 14th Annual Residential Real Estate Conference: Outlook 2014 on Dec. 12 on the University of San Diego campus.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Stan Humphries, PhD, chief economist of Zillow Inc. Following Humphries’ presentation, George Chamberlin, executive editor of The Daily Transcript, will moderate a panel comprised of: Stephen Doyle, president of Sandy Point Properties; Nathan Moeder, principal of The London Group Realty Advisors; and John Olinski, executive vice president of OneWest Bank. The event will also feature a Q&A session, led by Alan Nevin, director of economic and market research of Xpera Group.

The speakers’ presentations will focus on conditions, opportunities and challenges in the local, regional and national residential real estate markets and provide their economic forecasts for the upcoming year.

To register for the event, go here. For questions or sponsorship opportunities, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.

Back to Top

Fall 2013 Scholarship Recipients Announced

Each year, through the terrific generosity of many benefactors, the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate provides scholarships to reward academic achievement and encourage undergraduate and graduate students to pursue careers in the real estate profession. The fall 2013 recipients and scholarship sponsors include:

Fieldstone Foundation Scholarship
Katerina Tisch
Antonio Castaneda

Mickey Carhart Memorial Endowed Scholarship/NAIOP-San Diego Chapter
Aaron Cook
Omar El-Mofty

Marasco Family Scholarship Fund
Daniel Beroukhim
Bernardo Simões

Harry L. Summers Scholarship/California Homebuilding Foundation
Ben Murray

Peter Ochs Endowment/California Homebuilding Foundation
Sean Murphy

Ernest W. Hahn Scholarship/California Homebuilding Foundation
Wendy Messenger

John B. Clark Endowment/California Homebuilding Foundation
Sean Murphy

ICSC Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship
Mark Finan

For more information on real estate scholarships, contact Myla Wilson at (619) 260-8803.

Back to Top

MSRE Students Curate Content on Workplace Trends

Under the direction of Professor Norm Miller, PhD, five Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) students have begun developing content on a range of topics related to sustainable commercial real estate and its impact on future office development. Lauren Burns, Wendy Messenger, Lori Motooka, Sean Murphy and Bernardo Simões will post a collection of news stories on workplace trends that facilitate innovation and productivity on “,” a power publishing platform.

For the second year in a row, MSRE students are curating content as part of University of San Diego’s collaboration with MIPIM, a leading international real estate organization that hosts an annual conference in Cannes, France and attracts more than 10,000 commercial real estate professionals from around the world. Several MSRE students will attend the MIPIM 2014 conference this spring as roving bloggers, attending conference sessions and using social media platforms to post information communicated during the panel discussions and keynote presentations with MIPIM’s global audience.

To view the students’ collection of articles, go here.

Back to Top

MSRE Students and Faculty Attend National Industry Conferences

Norm Miller
Norm Miller, PhD
Charles Tu
Charles Tu, PhD

Master of Science in Real Estate student Wendy Messenger and Professor Norm Miller, PhD, attended the CoRE Tech 2013 Conference at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington Nov. 6-7. Miller attended as a speaker on a panel that addressed the question “Corporate Real Estate & Facilities Innovation...Why is Change So Hard?” related to improving the design, management and operations of buildings. The panel was comprised of Miller, David Pogue of CBRE and Ben Tranel of Gensler.

The panel concluded that we are at a time where better monitoring, reporting and improved efficiencies are being adopted by more firms and the world is changing as everything is being connected and can be monitored for better accuracy and efficiency. The panel also agreed that the key to dealing with “big data” is to develop simple visualizations and exception reports that can allow a human to act. The biggest resistance seems to be a lack of knowledge about such systems, choosing a vendor, cost and getting everyone on board with the change.

The same week, MSRE student Gregor Connors and Professor Charles Tu, PhD, attended ULI’s Fall Meeting in Chicago Nov. 5-8. They took interest in seminars that addressed the current and future state of the real estate industry while networking with industry professionals. The ULI Fall Meeting attracts more than 6,500 attendees annually.

Back to Top

MSRE Alum Speaks to Real Estate Society

Sean Giffin
Sean Giffin speaks to the Real Estate Society Oct. 31.

On Oct. 31, Sean Griffin, 2011 MSRE alum and leasing director at the NTC Foundation at Liberty Station, met with student members of the Center’s Real Estate Society. He discussed his career path, the importance of graduate school and involvement with professional real estate organizations in today’s competitive industry. Additionally, Griffin offered tips and insights for those interested in a career in real estate.

Back to Top

Alumni Matters

Ann Bruce
Ann Bruce ’02 (BBA)
Greg Drobot
Greg Drobot ’09 (MSRE/MBA) at Face Rock Creamery's ribbon cutting
Collin Phillips
Collin Phillips ’10 (BBA)

Ann Bruce ’02 (BBA) was recently promoted to partner at Cruzan | Monroe. Bruce oversees the firm’s finance and operations activities and handles the day-to-day operations of the firm, ensuring quality and efficiency. She is responsible for running due diligence and closings on new acquisitions, legal documentation and the company’s property-level insurance program, among other functions.

Greg Drobot ’09 (MSRE/MBA) ventured into the cheese business in 2012 when he founded Face Rock Creamery, an artesian cheese producer in Bandon, Oregon. A town once famous for cheese making, Bandon’s last cheese factory was torn down in 2005. A few years after graduating from USD, Drobot came up with the idea of bringing back the cheese legacy to that city. Drobot had no partners in the venture, so it was up to him to creatively secure financing for the construction of a building, equipment and working capital. Some of his biggest accomplishments since opening in May 2013 include winning a First Place Blue Ribbon at the 2013 American Cheese Society and a nomination by Culture Magazine for having one of the “101 Best Cheeses of the Year.” Drobot is currently working with national distributors to help place his cheeses into supermarkets nationwide. Currently, Drobot’s cheeses can be found in approximately 30 stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah.

Collin Phillips ’10 (BBA) recently joined DCT Industrial Trust, a publicly traded REIT, as an associate. DCT owns and operates 74 million square feet of high-quality bulk distribution and light industrial properties in North America and Mexico. Phillips will engage in all aspects of the acquisition and disposition process, including modeling, analysis, due diligence, and both presentation and recommendation of acquisitions to the investment committee. Prior to joining DCT, Phillips was a senior acquisitions analyst at Pacifica Enterprises, Inc., where he was an integral contributor to a private equity fund targeting distressed assets during the economic downturn.

Alumni News
If you are an USD alum working in the real estate industry, we would like to hear from you. Please e-mail Diane Gustafson with recent and significant career-related awards, promotions, job moves, etc. All submissions will be considered for publication.

Testimonials - Students and Employers
Tell us how your experience as an MSRE student enriched your career and created opportunities for your future. Your comments about the MSRE program will serve as a testament to the value of your educational experience at USD. Your endorsement will help us compete against other highly recognized graduate real estate programs in recruiting top-quality candidates for future classes.

We also want to hear from companies that have hired our exceptional students. Please contact Kimberly Malasky to learn more about sharing your testimonial with the Burnham-Moores Center.

Back to Top

Vivek Sah’s Paper Accepted for Publication

Vivek Sah, PhD

A paper titled, “Does Index Addition Add Any New Information? Evidence from REIT Dividend Forecasts,” written by Assistant Professor Vivek Sah, PhD was recently accepted into a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Property Research.

The paper looks at the information free event hypothesis associated with Index additions, such as S&P, and tests that for REITs, which are considered to have higher informational efficiency due to the transparent nature of their balance sheet. Using a sample of additions to the S&P REIT Index over a period of 2000-11, the findings suggest that Index addition announcement may not reveal much information beyond what is available from a REIT’s balance sheet.

Back to TopIn the News

Professor Norm Miller, PhD, was quoted in an article in the Oct. edition of REIT Magazine on the future of REITs sustainability initiatives.

Norm Miller, PhD, was quoted in an article in the Oct. edition of REALTOR Magazine on worker density and office demand.

Norm Miller, PhD, and associate professor Alan Gin, PhD, were included in the Oct. 11, Oct. 18, Oct. 25, Nov. 1 and Nov. 7 editions of U-T San Diego’s “EconoMeter.”

The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Breakfast at the BMC event featuring John Kratzer was featured in The Daily Transcript Oct. 22.

Norm Miller, PhD, was quoted in an Oct. 22 U-T San Diego article on foreclosures and defaults in San Diego County falling to a seven-year low.

Executive Director Mark Riedy, PhD, was quoted in an Oct. 23 Daily Transcript article on stagnant interest rates.

Mark Riedy, PhD, was featured in the Q&A section in the Scotsman’s Guide Nov. edition on industry education and the market in general.

The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Third Annual Women in Real Estate Conference was featured in The Daily Transcript and U-T San Diego Nov. 13.

Back to TopCalendar of Events


ARGUS Software Training Workshop

The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate will offer a two-day workshop covering the key features of ARGUS Valuation-DCF, the industry standard in commercial real estate investment analysis. ARGUS software is used to project cash flow for office, industrial and retail properties.


Time: 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Location: University of San Diego, Olin Hall Room 226, 5998 Alcala Park, 92110
Cost: $600; a 10 percent discount is available for multiple registrations and for USD alumni, students and USD employees.


To register for the course, go here. For questions about workshop content, contact Charles Tu, PhD.
For registration questions, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.

THURSDAY, DEC. 12, 2013

14th Annual Residential Real Estate Conference: Outlook 2014


Time: 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. continental breakfast and networking; 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. program
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, University of San Diego campus

Cost: $65 per person or $550 for 10 reserved seats


Keynote: Stan Humphries, PhD, chief economist of Zillow Inc.

Panelists: Stephen Doyle, president of Sandy Point Properties; Nathan Moeder, principal of The London Group Realty Advisors; and John Olinski, executive vice president of OneWest Bank
Moderators: George Chamberlin, executive editor of The Daily Transcript and Alan Nevin, director economic and market research of Xpera Group.


To register for the conference, go here. For sponsorship opportunities or more information, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.

THURSDay, FEB. 13, 2014

18th Annual Real Estate Conference and the USD Real Estate Program’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

Time:  7 – 8 a.m. full breakfast and networking; 8 – 11:30 a.m. program; 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  20th Anniversary celebration
Location: San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, 333 West Harbor Dr., San Diego, 92101

Cost:  $175 per person: includes registration fee, breakfast and complimentary access to the 20th Anniversary celebration including hors d'oeuvres and refreshments
Keynote Speaker: Sam Zell, founder and chairman of Equity Group Investments.


For sponsorship opportunities or more information, contact Diane Gustafson at (619) 260-2379.

Back to TopContinuing Education Courses- November 2013

STARTS TUESDay, JAN. 8, 2014

Real Estate Finance

  • Course taught by Daniel Phelan, president and CEO of Pacific Southwest Realty Services.
  • Course helps meet the requirements for a Certificate in Real Estate Finance, Investments and Development.
  • To register, or for more information on this course, go here or contact Adriana Serrano.
  • For more information on Real Estate Continuing Education, go here.


For more information on the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, go here.


For more information on the Master of Science in Real Estate program, go here.