Susie Eckstein – Real Estate Matters
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Susie Eckstein

A Day in the Life, Commercial Real Estate, UST Program News

A Day in the Life of Ben Bastian – UST Real Estate Alumnus and Production Analyst with CBRE

This post was written by Dan Jackson, a 2012 UST MBA graduate. Dan completed many of his electives in real estate including participation in the spring 2012 REAL 714 International Real Estate Development course in the Cayman Islands.

Ben Bastian, Production Analyst at CBRE

A trip up 1,000 feet in North America’s fastest elevators and 360 degree views of Lake Michigan, the Magnificent Mile, the rest of Chicagoland and Las Vegas are just a few things that Class of 2005 alumnus, Ben Bastian, states as his most memorable experience at the University of St. Thomas (UST).   He took the trip as a member of the UST Real Estate Club.  “During my undergraduate experience, collaboration between the CBRE offices in Minneapolis and UST started.  Through the Real Estate Club, we planned a trip to Chicago that focused on touring and learning more about various properties in the Chicago central business district (CBD).  We toured a couple properties; the most recognizable property was the John Hancock Tower.  What was even more amazing about this trip was that we were able to venture out onto the roof of the Hancock building to enjoy the view,” stated Bastian.  Ben adds, “Another memorable experience was a trip to Las Vegas that was partly funded by the winning proceeds from the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP) University Challenge.  Similar to the Chicago trip, we were able to tour local office buildings, including the Bellagio.”

Currently, Ben is a Production Analyst with the Minneapolis Debt & Equity Finance team within the Capital Markets Group at CBRE.  He has been in his position at CBRE for seven months, and previously was an analyst in investment sales at Cushman & Wakefield.  When asked to describe his typical work day, Ben stated, “I work a lot with numbers and perform financial analysis on prospective and current deals; I use Argus for financial modeling on most properties. Other things that take place in my day include – property tours with lenders, meetings with attorneys, prospective clients and conversations with lenders to market our current assignments.”  He continues to explain, “In a typical day I am dealing with clients who may have a property under contract to purchase or they are looking to refinance a property that they own.  Our primary goal is to be able to analyze the property, which involves determining the value, figuring out what elements are driving the value and taking this information to the market after thorough research has been completed.  All of this information is presented in a financing request package to the lenders to obtain their feedback about whether or not they want to make a loan on the property.”

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Development, Green Building, Real Estate Trends, UST Real Estate in the News

Anderson Student Center wins ‘LEED gold’ from Green Building Council

This post is from the University of St. Thomas Bulletin Today.

The generous use of insulation was just one of many steps that led to gold-level LEED certification for the Anderson Student Center.

The University of St. Thomas’ new Anderson Student Center has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The university in 2008 adopted a policy of pursuing green, sustainable and energy-efficient strategies for all new building projects; this marks the first time, however, that it submitted a building for LEED certification.

“I was absolutely thrilled to hear the news,” said Dr. Mary Ann Ryan, associate vice president for student affairs. “And I am still thrilled. It reflects the commitment that our campus community, and in particular our president, Father Dennis Dease, has to environmental sustainability.”

Dease, along with college and university presidents from across the country, in 2008 signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

LEED certification is granted at four levels that vary based on the number of environmentally conscious efforts that go into a facility’s design and use. To earn one of the four levels of certification, a building is awarded points in each of six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design.

Gold is the second-highest of the four LEED certification levels. “As the design process progressed, we had an idea about how many points the Anderson Student Center would earn in each category,” Ryan explained. The university’s initial goal was silver. “As the building neared completion, we thought we’d be close to gold, but we could not be sure until we got the official word.”

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Development, Economics, International Real Estate, Real Estate Trends

London Summer Olympics 2012 – Redefining the urban experience

This post was written by Dan Jackson, a 2012 UST MBA graduate. Dan completed many of his electives in real estate including participation in the spring 2012 REAL 714 International Real Estate Development course in the Cayman Islands.

The marathon is a popular Olympic sport.  The official distance of the marathon is 26.2 miles or 26 miles, 385 yards.  Have you ever wondered why this particular distance?  Olympic Fun Facts  explains, “It was decided at the1908 Olympic Games in London that the royal family needed a better view of the finish line, so Olympic organizers added an extra 385 yards (0.2 miles) so the finish line would be right in front of the royal box.”

Every four years, several hundred million people across the world tune in to the Summer Olympic Games to check out their favorite athletes and to show support and solidarity for their country.  A little over 100 years later, London has been selected again as the host city for this world event.

While many spectators enjoy the great athleticism and sportsmanship that takes place during the Olympic Games, it can be easy to overlook the economic and real estate development that the Olympic Games can provide for the host city.  A study by Locate in Kent , found there is much evidence that Olympic Games have an immediate short-term impact on the host city and region in terms of local investment and regeneration. Benefits arise from the level of economic activity around staging the Games, to upgrade sporting, entertainment and general urban infrastructure. This also can lead to additional permanent employment after the games and may lead to longer-term impacts.  I’d like to provide a brief snapshot of the real estate development that was part of the preparation for the 2012 London Olympics Games. Continue Reading

Commercial Lending, Industry News, Retail Real Estate, UST Class Profile

Neiman Marcus closes its doors: What’s next? Highlights from REAL 746

This post was written by Dan Jackson, a 2012 UST MBA graduate. Dan completed many of his electives in real estate including participation in the spring 2012 REAL 714 International Real Estate Development course in the Cayman Islands.

Photo from

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal recently reported that Neiman Marcus, a high-end retailer in downtown Minneapolis would be closing its doors in July of 2013.  This is not the first time that a high-end retailer has decided to close its doors or had to alter its image in downtown Minneapolis.  The article stated that in 2004, Saks Fifth Avenue reconfigured its main store concept into Saks Off Fifth, a lower-priced version of the well-known retailer. 

With the announcement of this closure, I got to thinking about the possibilities of a tenant that could fit into the space that has been held by Neiman Marcus for about 20 years.  I reflected on a moment from my studies at St. Thomas.  One particular UST real estate course (REAL 746), introduces students to the techniques used to determine the best and highest use of a site from a market analysis and feasibility perspective.  It is a course that I took this past spring.  While there were many techniques that we learned throughout the course of the semester, six factors immediately come to mind when trying to provide market analysis for a particular site.  I’d like to walk you through each of these six factors and highlight important elements about the site that relate to each of these factors, but ultimately will leave it up to you to decide what kind of tenant(s) would be a good fit for a replacement.

The market analysis process reviewed during the semester consisted of six points that guide real estate professionals through a market and feasibility analysis of a particular site.  The six steps, as outlined here will be used to provide a general idea and outline, but will not go too much in depth, given the length of this post.  The purpose of this post is to examine and look for trends that will help real estate professionals begin to identify the next best tenant(s) for this space.  The six steps that I refer to here are specifically related to identifying a space for a shopping center, but similarities exist between this process and the processes for other types of properties. Continue Reading

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life of UST Alumnus Grant Campbell of Welsh Property Trust

This post was written by Dan Jackson, a 2012 UST MBA graduate. Dan completed many of his electives in real estate including participation in the spring 2012 REAL 714 International Real Estate Development course in the Cayman Islands.

Grant Campbell, Wesh Property Trust

Class of 2006 UST real estate alumnus, Grant Campbell, loves what he does, ”I enjoy the fact that every day is different. Every investment opportunity, every asset, every lease is different.  In this job, you need to be able to find ways to maximize value for both the company and our shareholders, and also for the tenants we work with.  This essentially involves figuring out what the key objectives are for those involved in a particular transaction  and finding the best way to meet those objectives for all parties involved, whether they be sellers, buyers, lenders or portfolio tenants.”, states Campbell.

 As Associate, Investments, for Welsh Property Trust, Grant Campbell works as part of a team to source, underwrite, execute, manage and dispose of real estate investments.  He has been in the role for a year and half, but has been with the company overall for close to 6 years.  Campbell started out as a Financial Analyst in 2006, just prior to his graduation from St. Thomas.  In this position he underwrote potential acquisitions for the company.  In late 2007, he transitioned and took on a more active role as a Senior Financial Analyst with Welsh.  A key component in this position was that he was able to manage the overall financial analyst team at the company, overseeing work allocation and development.   As he continued to develop professionally in this position, he had the opportunity to dive deeper into the corporate finance and asset management realm. All of this knowledge eventually morphed into his role today as an Investment Associate with Welsh Property Trust, where he focuses on sourcing and underwriting investment opportunities, corporate level financial modeling in conjunction with Welsh Property Trust’s investment partners, and assisting with portfolio management.

A typical day for Campbell usually begins by scanning various real estate and finance publications, for notable transactions and industry developments.  The overall core of his job involves a lot of underwriting in ARGUS and Excel, as well as time on the phone, “I focus on underwriting both potential new deals and current assets that we own.  A lot of the day can be spent talking with brokers in various markets where we currently own or are looking to buy, to discuss activity relating to our buildings or to discuss transactions that are for sale or have recently sold.  We are always trying to find opportunities.  To sum the position up – ARGUS, Excel, a time on the phone, property tours and lots of conversation internally amongst our team members – ultimately trying to find ways to add value to the Welsh Property Trust portfolio,” says Campbell. Continue Reading

Real Estate Programs, UST Program News

Four Real Estate Professionals Complete the Professional Certificate in Commercial Real Estate

PCCRE Graduation Ceremony

The Shenehon Center for Real Estate, in conjunction with the University of St. Thomas Center for Business Excellence has named 4 inaugural recipients of the Professional Certificate in Commercial Real Estate.  The following recipients earned the Certificate on May 16, 2012, after completing the PCCRE program:

Sherry Hottinger, Supervisor of Mortgage Loan Administration, Thrivent Financial
Larry Reger, Sales Broker, Coldwell Banker Burnet
Lisa Sigman, Senior Commercial Loan Closer, Thrivent Financial
Melanie Walsh, Residential Appraiser,  Walsh Appraisals, LLC

The University of St. Thomas Shenehon Center for Real Estate developed the Certificate as a strategy for professionals to keep up with market changes; the program aims to strengthen the foundation of those enrolled for the betterment of their careers, and it is designed for professionals who work within the commercial real estate industry as well as for those making a transition into it.  The six programs provide a comprehensive background of best practices in commercial real estate in the areas of Valuation, Urban Land Economics and Market Analysis, Commercial Real Estate Finance, Investment and Income Analysis, Asset Management, and Legal Aspects of Real Estate and Governmental Controls.  For more information on the Professional Certificate in Commercial Real Estate, visit

Residential Real Estate, Residential Real Estate Index, UST Real Estate in the News

St. Thomas real estate analysis: lower-priced homes are ‘flying off the shevles’ right now

April’s active market for single-family homes priced under $14o,000 is one of several positive signs for the Twin Cities’ real estate market.

While it’s not a term often used to describe the housing market, a University of St. Thomas real estate professor observed that “the market for single-family homes priced under $140,000 has become quite active. They are flying off the shelves right now,” said Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the university.

The finding was one of several signs of a healthier housing market that were outlined in the UST Residential Real Estate Index, a monthly analysis of the 13-county Twin Cities area prepared by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business.

Tousley said that new listings for the lower-priced homes are coming onto the market at a rate of about 1,100 per month and they are being sold at a rate of about 900 t0 1,000 per month.

“The number of homes on the market in this price range has steadily been declining since the beginning of the year,” he said. “Although many of these homes are foreclosures and short sales, there are several types of buyers, including first-time homeowners and investors, who are purchasing these properties at a fast clip.” Continue Reading

Commercial Real Estate, UST Real Estate in the News

May 2012 Commercial Real Estate Survey: Pessimism in the Twin Cities Commercial Real Estate Market


University of St. Thomas survey of Minnesota’s commercial real estate leaders reveals continued concerns about commercial real estate market conditions over the next two years.


According to the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business’ fifth semiannual ‘Commercial Real Estate Survey,” Twin Cities industry leaders are somewhat more pessimistic about future commercial real estate market conditions two years from now. The survey polls 50 commercial real estate industry leaders representing development, finance and investment. It measures their expectations for the future of the market in seven different categories including vacancy rates, rental rate growth, land prices, building material prices, new project financing criteria, and rates of return. These are the people who are making decisions today that will affect future commercial real estate conditions.


The spring 2012 survey recorded its first composite score below 50, based on a 0-100 index, since the inception of the survey in 2010, indicating a more pessimistic view of the future commercial real estate market. Compared to the fall 2011 survey, the panel anticipates land values will continue to increase. There is also a strong expectation that the price of building materials will continue to rise over the next two years, shifting from a strongly negative 27.9 to a more negative reading of 26. Both of these factors make it more difficult to obtain financing and provide adequate returns for investors.


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Development, Economics, Government Policy

Real Estate Development and CBAs – 5 Questions for Prof. Musil


Tom Musil

Thomas A. Musil, D.P.A., assistant professor in the finance department recently presented his research on Regulation of Real Estate Development Through the Use of Community Benefit Agreements. Here then are five questions with Prof. Musil:

Q. What are Community Benefit Agreements?

A.  CBAs establish a process for real estate developers to include community objectives as part of the development. The developer enters into a private contract, usually with a coalition of community, faith based and/or special interest groups in exchange for their support, cooperation or forbearance regarding the proposed development. The community group typically gets the developer to agree to include any of several components in the project or in the development process. This includes things like local hiring, hiring from under-represented groups, creation of minority owned businesses, and paying for support of the community coalition. In fact, in some cases the community coalition has an approval process and monitors the development activity and final management of the development.

Q. What are you hoping to accomplish with your research?

A. Very little is known about CBAs. There is scant evidence of how these agreements produce outcomes and enhance the project and/or the community. In my research, I specifically looked at 28 of the 50 projects nationally where CBAs have been used in the development process. I reviewed at each of these projects in terms of their impact on environmental justice – the fair treatment and inclusion of all people regardless of their race, color, gender, national origin or income. Of the CBAs reviewed, 28% involved hiring in the agreement, 57% required communication between developer and community, 53% contained requirements in terms of minimum wage or living wage jobs and 53% related to contracting with certain groups such as those who are local or typically harder to employ. Continue Reading

Residential Real Estate, Residential Real Estate Index

St. Thomas real estate analysis sees signs of a healthier Twin Cities housing market

A sharp increase in the median price of a home last month was one of several signs pointing to a return to a healthier housing market in the 13-county Twin Cities area, according to an analysis released today by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business.

The university’s researchers, however, offered a note of caution. “We will need to see many more months of data before we can say that we are on the road to recovery,” said Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at St. Thomas.

The Shenehon Center publishes a monthly Residential Real Estate Price Report Index that tracks median prices and other data for traditional home sales as well as the two kinds of distressed sales: short sales (homes sold for a price less than the outstanding mortgage balance), and sales where the home’s mortgage has been foreclosed.

Here are key findings from the center’s analysis of March data:

  • The median price for traditional-sale homes increased just over 8 percent, from $180,000 in February to $195,000 in March. It was the largest single month-to-month increase since the middle of 2010, when the market was stimulated by a federal tax credit.
  • For traditional-sale, single-family homes, the median price increased from $200,000 in February to $214,000 in March.
  • For traditional-sale condos, the median price increased from $111,000 in February to $130,000 in March.
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