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Letter from the Executive Director

Mark RiedyMark Riedy, PhD

Some readers undoubtedly are old enough to remember Frank Sinatra’s powerful rendition of the song, “My Way.” This newsletter is an adaptation of some parts of that song as they relate to my career. The opening line fits perfectly. “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.” Sinatra closes with the refrain “the record shows I took the blows and did it my way.”

“My Way” is a great song, and its words resonate as I reflect on my entire 46 year career, the last 22 at USD. 

“I face the final curtain” – January 15, 2015

“I took the blows” – At one or more jobs, it went with the territory

“I did it my way” – No regrets. We, not I, did it our way

19th Annual Real Estate ConferenceI’d like to reflect briefly on each of these three refrains. First, the final curtain. One’s initial reaction logically would be to take the performer’s perspective, with the end of his career close at hand and facing the final curtain for one last round of applause before the curtains close and the audience drifts away. That performer could well be me retiring from USD after a long and profitable run on stage.

It’s not the end of the story, however, just the final curtain drawing closed at USD. Somewhere else, on another smaller stage, the curtains might be going up for an original play about to make its debut. I can’t give you the story line yet because it’s still a work in progress. Hopefully critics will like it and audiences will give it a long run.

The second relevant Sinatra refrain is “I took the blows.” For me it illustrates one important facet of what it means to be in a position of leadership and the expectations we tend to have of leaders. Several concepts come to mind when I try to define what it means to be a leader and why it relates to “I took the blows.” A leader is someone who naturally steps up to handle a situation demanding attention; who thinks several steps ahead about the implications of alternative course of actions and strategies; who acts selflessly rather than selfishly; who has the courage of his convictions and acts on them; who willingly listens to and considers advice from others; who inspires others to their highest possible levels of performance; and, who perceives barriers to progress not as immovable objects but as challenges to be overcome.

Being in a leadership position generally implies being the person at the front of the action or playing the role of thought-leader for a group. In turn, being up front frequently means absorbing the bumps and bruises―physically, emotionally or psychologically―that go with the territory.

I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises in the course of 46 years of gainful employment. I won’t kiss or tell where the blows occurred, however curious you might be. What I will say is the mantra I share with students: You will learn more from the scars you accumulate during your career than you’ll ever learn from your pats on your back.

The third refrain Sinatra belted out was “I did it my way.” In this vein USD made it exceptionally easy to do things my way when I arrived on campus because no other way existed. Real estate programming on a structured basis had not been on the faculty’s radar screen so there was no template to follow, no prefabricated business plan, goals or objectives to pursue. USD’s marching orders suited my style perfectly: “Build something of value, keep us informed and make sure it benefits USD’s students and reputation. If you can, also build connections with the community.” Another way to interpret my charge is that by default I had no option other than to do it “my way.”

Were there barriers to overcome? Sure. After all it’s a university. Did I do it “my way?” Not really. It is far more accurate to say that thanks to incredible investments of time, wisdom and financial support by industry executives and an exceptional faculty and staff, a rigorous academic program was established along with an outstanding array of industry programming. Further, student-industry-community relationships were forged so strongly that “intense industry interaction” is a core strength of our real estate curriculum, and a key reason why our student career placements (for being mentored, holding internships and securing jobs) are extraordinary.

For better or worse, when I launched USD’s real estate program, of necessity I did it my way because there was no pre-established guidance to follow. There were no alternative ways. The best thing I did “my way” was recruiting faculty and staff, and attracting industry involvement and support whose collective achievements have created a program that is a valuable asset to USD, to this community and to real estate and financial services firms and executives. Therefore, if I were to write a song singing the praises of those all who collaborated in building USD’s real estate program, it would conclude with this refrain: “We did it our way.”

So thank you, Mr. Sinatra, for your memorable song. Thank you, President Lyons, Provost Allen, Dean Pyke and Associate Dean Rahman for your ongoing encouragement and support.  And thank you faculty, staff and industry. I need to leave shortly because the curtain is about to go up―not down―on an intriguing new play called “Encore Career.”

Mark J. Riedy, PhD
Executive Director

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Burnham-Moores Center Names New Executive Director

Stath Karras
Stath Karras, Executive Director, Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, effective Jan. 19, 2015.

For those who did not happen to see the excellent media coverage last week, we have included the press release issued by the Dean of USD's School of Business Administration, David Pyke. On Dec. 8, Pyke announced Stath Karras as the Center's new executive director effective Jan. 19, 2015, please find the summary below.

Stath Karras, executive managing director, San Diego Area, for Cushman & Wakefield, will be the new executive director of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, effective January 19, 2015. Karras succeeds Mark Riedy, PhD, founder of USD’s real estate program in 1993, who is retiring on January 15, 2015. Karras has been an active member of the Burnham-Moores Center’s Policy Advisory Board Executive Committee since 2003.

“We all know Stath well from working alongside him for many years,” said Pyke. “He exceeds all of the qualifications we were looking for in someone to assume leadership of the Center, one of USD’s premier programs and a genuine asset to San Diego.” Pyke added, “Looking ahead, I fully expect his selection to translate into continued growth in the industry’s strong support for the Center, expansion of interdisciplinary activities involving the real estate program with other departments at USD and even greater value creation for this community.”

Karras was the long-time CEO of Burnham Real Estate Services before its acquisition by
Cushman & Wakefield in 2008. He is past chair of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and continues to serve on the EDC’s Board of Directors.

“I am excited and honored to follow Mark as executive director,” Karras said. “It is a change of
pace and perspective for me and will be a wonderful career opportunity. I treasure the
achievements of the Center under Mark’s leadership and believe firmly in its future potential. It’s great to come into a position knowing that the Burnham-Moores Center has been built on a solid foundation.”

Riedy said he feels confident stepping down from is 20+ year post at the helm of USD’s real
estate program knowing that Karras is his successor. “Stath Karras is a consummate real estate professional with an awesome skill set, an enviable ability to build productive relationships, a highly visible and positive public profile and a terrific record of success throughout his career,” Riedy said. “Stath is 100 percent committed to advancing the quality of USD’s real estate program and expanding its reach locally as well as globally. He is perfectly suited for this position in every way imaginable.”

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Real Estate Alumni Association Hosts Successful Craft Brew, Real Estate Event

Brew Event
(From left to right) Danny Fitzgerald, Damon Melda, Shawn DeWitt and Josh Lichtman at USD's Real Estate Alumni Association's Craft Beer and Real Estate: The Perfect Brew event on Nov. 20.

More than 60 brokers, developers and investors attended USD’s Real Estate Alumni Association’s Craft Beer and Real Estate: The Perfect Brew event held at 57 Degrees in Middletown on Nov. 20. Shawn DeWitt, co-founder of Coronado Brewing Co. and Josh Lichtman, associate project manager of Stone Brewing Co. headlined the event and discussed the keys to success for their respective 18-year old companies, craft beer’s ties to the real estate market and qualities that make particular sites attractive. Danny Fitzgerald of Cassidy Turley’s Urban Strategies Group moderated the event and discussed the history of the craft beer industry in San Diego County. There are now more than 93 breweries, brewpubs and tasting rooms in San Diego, with more coming.

Both Coronado Brewing Co. and Stone Brewing Co. continue to grow exponentially, and Stone announced this past year that it will be the first American craft brewer to own and operate a brewery in Berlin, Germany. They have also recently selected a site for an East Coast facility in Richmond, Va. Damon Melda, vice president-tenant representation of JLL, helped the company find their East Coast location and was on hand to discuss the selection process.

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MSRE Alumni, Students Enjoy Annual Holiday Party

MSRE Holiday Party
(From left to right) Current MSRE students Jon Mesa and Liz Henderson mingle with MSRE alums Gregor Connors '14 (MSRE), Anthony Ly '13 (MSRE), Sean Giffin '11 (MSRE) and Burnham-Moores Center Executive Director Mark Riedy at the annual MSRE holiday potluck.

On Dec. 4‚ past and present MSRE students, their families and Burnham-Moores Center faculty and staff celebrated the holiday season at the annual MSRE holiday potluck. The gathering, held at The Lido Club House in Mission Valley, was hosted by Trevor Hubbard ’05 (MSRE).

View more photos from the event.

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MSRE Students Curate Content on Trending Real Estate Topics for MIPIM

MIPIMFor the third year in a row, MSRE students were invited to curate 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. The conference attracts more than 10,000 commercial real estate professionals from around the world.

Under the direction of Professor Norm Miller, PhD, several MSRE students have begun developing content on a range of hot real estate topics including big data and crowdfunding. Victor Alfonso, Austin Dias, Liz Henderson, Wendy Messenger and Clarence Wong will post a collection of news stories on workplace trends that facilitate innovation and productivity on “,” a power publishing platform. All of the students, except for Wong, will attend the MIPIM 2015 conference this spring as a team of 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.

View the students’ collection of articles.

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Real Estate Society Hears from Carrier Johnson Executive

Vincent Mudd
Vincent Mudd of Carrier Johnson speaks to USD's Real Estate Society on Dec. 4

More than 20 undergraduate students attended the Dec. 4 Real Estate Society meeting to hear Vincent Mudd, managing partner of Carrier Johnson + CULTURE. Carrier Johnson is a design-centric architectural, interior design and branding practice that creates expressive and individualized solutions for clients across multiple sectors. Mudd discussed economic development and property valuation and the importance of problem-solving in his field. He also provided his thoughts on the future of San Diego in terms of city planning, transportation and the need to utilize our proximity to the border more fully, if we are to grow as a region.

Mudd also offered career advice including strategies to obtain a job after graduation and recommended useful software for enhanced opportunities in his field. He urged the students―especially women―not to be afraid to fail. Those willing to take risks will find themselves in senior level management positions in the future. He also advised the students to “make something every year. It allows you to be creative for yourself.”

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MSRE Students End Fall Semester on High Notes

MSRE Presentations
A team of MSRE students in Professor Norm Miller’s Real Estate Market Analysis class presents to an audience of industry leaders on Dec. 2.










MSRE Program 2015On Nov. 20, MSRE students in Ian Gill’s Design and Construction Management course took a site tour of Silvergate Development’s 60 unit apartment project, Palm Terrace, located at 4330 Palm Avenue in La Mesa. After touring the project, the class met in the phase two site next door to engage the developers in a lively question and answer session.

On Dec. 2, teams of MSRE students in Professor Norm Miller’s Real Estate Market Analysis presented forecasts of demand and supply, absorption, vacancies and rents for retail, industrial warehouse, multifamily, office and medical office markets in the San Diego region. Several industry leaders attended and offered students feedback on the quality of the forecast content and on the students presentation skills. Charlie Abdi, principal of Finest City Realty Advisors; Malin Burnham, chairman of the Burnham Foundation; Ian Gill, principal of Highland Partnership Inc.; Stath Karras, executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield's San Diego office; and Chris Pascale, senior vice president at CBRE, joined Burnham-Moores Center faculty and staff in this three and a half hour mini-conference.

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The Power of HOAs Adds Enormous Risk to Mortgage Lending

By Professor Norm Miller, PhD

Norm Miller
Norm Miller, PhD

The Nevada Supreme Court gave homeowners associations in the state a new weapon adversely affecting mortgage lenders. “The ruling in the case of SFR Investments Pool 1 (an HOA) versus U.S. Bank is forcing participants in the single-family residential market to examine their exposure to delinquent homeowners association dues, or HOA fees and try to ensure that fees, fines and assessments are paid on time lest they run into the fury of a nasty HOA. The HOA in this case foreclosed on the property, and was granted super-lien status to be paid before any other lien-holder. The ruling in this case allowed the holder of the HOA lien to extinguish all other liens on the property. The HOA in this lawsuit was owed only $6,000. U.S. Bank, as trustee for the securitization collateralized by the property, had an $885,000 first-lien mortgage securing its loan. The HOA foreclosed on the property, sold the house to an investor, SFR Investments Pool 1, in a trustee sale for the amount of the overdue HOA fees (exactly $6,000) and SFR Investments received the house free and clear.

The foreclosure on the HOA lien took priority over the first-lien mortgage and extinguished the senior lien, leaving the securitization investors with neither collateral nor recourse. While 22 jurisdictions allow super-lien status for HOAs, only Nevada and Washington, D.C., so far have allowed HOAs to extinguish the first-lien mortgage loan on the property. Hopefully, this kind of ruling will not carry over to California, but the risk of providing a loan in Nevada certainly has gone up.

For more information on the ruling, go here.

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Alumni Matters

Michael Argier
Michael Argier ’11 (MSRE)
Mike Boss
Michael Boss ’11 (MSRE)

Michael Argier ’11 (MSRE) has been named development manager with Panattoni Development Company, one of the largest privately owned industrial real estate developers in North America. Argier will focus on the Las Vegas metro market, managing over one million square feet of new construction projects in various stages of development and pre-development. Additionally, Argier is responsible for securing new development sites for build-to-suit and speculative industrial product in the Las Vegas Valley. Previously based in San Diego, Argier has worked with OliverMcMillan and Pacifica Companies.

Michael Boss ’11 (MSRE) has been named director of U.S. acquisitions in the global real estate department at TIAA-CREF. Boss is responsible for investing on behalf of TIAA-CREF as well as third-party clients. He is also responsible for acquisitions of all product types located in the western U.S. He previously worked as a director with GE Capital Real Estate focused on portfolio management, dispositions, acquisitions and asset management.

Alumni News
If you are a USD alum working in the real estate industry, we would like to hear from you. Please e-mail Diane Ice with recent and significant career-related achievements and initiatives. All submissions will be considered for publication.

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USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators

Alan Gin
Alan Gin, PhD

Alan Gin, PhD, associate professor of economics at USD, has compiled the “USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County” for the Burnham-Moores Center since January 2002. The Index is a highly regarded monthly outlook report for the local economy. Gin is a popular resource for information and analyses and has given over 1,000 interviews to local and national media sources since 2002.

Gin’s most recent Index report appears monthly in The Pipeline.

To schedule a media interview with Gin, please contact Kimberly Malasky, director of communications and administration in the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

Back to TopIn the News

Professor Norm Miller, PhD, was quoted an article in the November/December issue of California Buildings News on the rising popularity of micro dwellings in urban areas.

A co-authored article by Norm Miller, PhD, on the impact of Prop 13 on effective tax rates in California appeared in the December 2014 issue of International Association of Assessing Officers’ Fair & Equitable magazine.

Norm Miller, PhD, and associate professor Alan Gin, PhD, were included in the Nov. 21, Nov. 28, Dec. 7 and Dec. 12 editions of U-T San Diego’s “EconoMeter.”

USD's Real Estate Alumni Association's Craft Beer and Real Estate: The Perfect Brew event was featured in a Nov. 27 Daily Transcript article.

Alan Gin, PhD, was featured in the U-T San Diego, The Daily Transcript, The Times of San Diego and the Seaside Courier following his most recent release of the USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, which he compiles for the Burnham-Moores Center.

Articles announcing the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s new executive director, Stath Karras, recently appeared in The Daily Transcript (article, interview), the San Diego Business Journal and

Media and Speaking Engagement Inquiries
The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate is proud to connect our world-class faculty and executive team with the media and the community to discuss a wide range of financial and real estate-related industry topics. To request an interview or speaking engagement, contact Kimberly Malasky at (619) 260-4786.

Back to TopCalendar of Events

THURSDay, FEB. 19, 2015

13th Annual Real Estate Career Expo

The 13th Annual Real Estate Career Expo, conducted speed-networking style, connects graduate and undergraduate students with company representatives from a variety of fields within the industry. Company representatives receive a résumé book of students registered for the event. Students are given a list of the real estate-related employers participating in the event.


Time: 12 – 2 p.m.
Location: University of San Diego, Hahn University Center, Forum C


Real estate companies interested in participating should contact Joe Bertocchini at 619-260-4183 or John Ferber at 619-260-7513.

THURSDay, MARCH 5, 2015

19th Annual Real Estate Conference

Time: 7:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, 1 Market Place, San Diego, CA 92101

Cost: $175 per person, $1,000 for a reserved half table of five seats or $2,000 for a reserved table of 10 seats

Keynote Speaker: John B. Kilroy Jr., Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Kilroy Realty Corporation
Sponsor this conference. Contact Diane Ice at (619) 260-2379 for more information

or sponsorship opportunities.


Register for the conference.

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Real Estate Finance


WEDNESDay, JAN. 21, 2015

The Real Estate Process