Student Profile: Dustin Sayre, Project Development Specialist – Real Estate Matters
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Student Profile: Dustin Sayre, Project Development Specialist

DustinA specialist in the development of senior housing communities with Senior Housing Partners, a division of Presbyterian Homes, Dustin is on his way to completing the MSRE degree this December and continuing to excel in the development business.

What is your education and professional experience?

After I graduated from Northwestern College, I began a housing development internship at Presbyterian Homes.  During the one year internship, I was able to shadow the development process, which was very helpful since I didn’t have prior experience in real estate except for working as part of a construction crew.  Assisting with tasks like coordinating neighborhood meetings really gave me an understanding of the many facets of building a new community.  Once I completed the internship, Presbyterian Homes hired me on full-time and I have been working there for five years now.

Presbyterian Homes is the 5th largest senior housing developer in the US and the second fastest growing; we currently have five projects in process and another three launching within the next month.  Pres Homes really focuses on quality of life issues for seniors.  For example, studies have indicated that seniors who exercise are less likely to experience problems with balance which can contribute to falls; falls are the number one health risk to seniors.  With this information in mind, Pres Homes began a Wellness Centers initiative with its 34 communities.  I managed the design and construction process for the Wellness Center projects, which entailed visiting 28 communities and determining where we could build out new fitness centers.  A lot of my time went into two major additions at Farmstead in Andover and Mississippi Shores in Monticello; the wellness centers turned out great and it feels good to know that our work helps to keep seniors safe and healthy.

Why did you choose the MSRE program at St. Thomas?

In my current role, I work with senior development project managers who are in the prime of their career.

I realized there is a knowledge gap between my senior colleagues and myself, I wanted to fill that gap as quickly as possible.

First, I obtained a minor in construction management at the University of Minnesota, then I saw the St. Thomas MSRE program, and it really emphasized the areas I wanted and needed to learn to advance my career.  Since my undergraduate degree is in business, I desired to become more specialized in real estate.

What was your career goal when you entered the program and how has it evolved since?

My ultimate goal is to manage the whole development process from start to finish.

In my current role at Senior Housing Partners, I manage some parts of this process, mainly the design and construction aspects.  My day-to-day includes tasks like sending out RFP’s to select a general contractor, working on the design process, and permitting.  I also help manage the transition from the construction phase to property operations.  Ultimately I want to move forward in my career by directing market analysis and feasibility, obtaining project financing, working with cities on the entitlement process, and having the expertise to direct any aspect of the project successfully.  In the future, I would like to head the development department at my current employer or start my own development company.

Talk about your experience in the program so far, what are the benefits, and what have you learned?

The MSRE program does an excellent job at covering “a mile’s worth of material an inch deep,” to help students understand what’s out there, overall industry concepts, and a basic introduction to marketing, finance, development, investment, and so on.  This allows students to be on the same level as experienced industry professionals in daily conversation and collaboration on projects.

How do you balance work, coursework, and other life demands?  What’s your favorite non-real estate pastime?

Being in the MSRE program as well as working full-time, I have learned to accept the time I have available and manage it wisely, so that I have enough time for homework as well as spending time with my wife and working on our home.

I spent this past week counseling 9-12 year olds at Koronis Bible Camp, which mainly entailed being a “human piñata and climbing gym.”  Rolling around in the mud like a kid is a great form of stress relief!

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