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Appraisal, Executive Insight Series

Rob Lunz Shares Insights on Real Estate Appraisal

The Real Estate Executive Insights Series is presented by the Opus College of Business MSRE program. This series invites speakers from the real estate industry to provide valuable information and discussion about hot topics and current trends. This program is free and open to the public. To view the full upcoming schedule, click here.

Rob Lunz, CRE, MAI

At the most recent UST Executive Insights event, Rob Lunz, principal at Nicollet Parnters shared insight gained over the course of several decades as a real estate appraiser. Nicollet Partners is a full-service appraisal, brokerage, and consulting firm headquartered in downtown Minneapolis. At the event, Rob introduced MSRE and MBA students to some the fundamentals of real estate appraisal. The standard definition of an appraisal is simply an analysis or opinion of value. Rob defines appraisal a little more broadly, and considers it to be the mission of appraisers to help ensure that real estate assets are employed to the best use possible.

Rob also shared some interesting situations he has come across over the course of his career in appraisal. One instance involved the appraisal of a lakeside residential property after the purchaser found a bald eagle’s nest in a tree over their deck. One might not think that a bird’s nest in a tree could significantly impact the value of a property, but they’d be wrong. Bald eagles are of course given protected status as an endangered species,  but their diet of small animals, the associated odors, and habit of throwing any leftovers out of the nest all make them unideal neighbors to have at a vacation home.

This unique case had Rob approaching wildlife biologists and the Department of Natural Resources in an attempt to determine what the owners could do about the eagles (nothing) and to evaluate what that might mean for the property owners. The impacts which Rob had to quantify included significant cleaning services expenses, reduced enjoyment of the property, and limitations on what future improvements the owners could make to the property. A prevalent theme in this and other stories Rob shared was the need for appraisers to be able to quickly learn about things they might previously have known little about, in order to accurately appraise real estate value.

Rob also provided insight into current trends in real estate. Nicollet Partners tracks development trends closely, including the current hot multifamily market. Rob noted that there are currently about 12,600 units of apartments either recently completed, under construction, or proposed in the Twin Cities, 55% percent of which are in the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He also sees improvement in the industrial market since the Great Recession, but believes that retail and office remain soft.
Appraisal, Business Valuation, Commercial Real Estate, Economics, Real Estate Programs, Real Estate Trends, Uncategorized, Upcoming Industry Events, Upcoming UST Events

23rd Annual Business Valuation Conference

The 23rd Annual Business Valuation Conference will be held Wednesday, February 6. This conference covers topics of interest to attorneys, accountants, business brokers, business owners, commercial real estate brokers, lenders, investment bankers, appraisers and others who regularly encounter business valuation issues.  It is held at the University of St. Thomas campus in downtown Minneapolis and is presented/sponsored by The UST Shenehon Center for Real Estate, NCCIBA, NACVA, ASA.

Topics featured at the conference include:UST RE conference

  • Economic Update
  • The Layman’s Use of Regression Analysis
  • Identifying Metrics and Calculating Value in Excel
  • Basics of a Real Estate Appraisal
  • Avoiding the Pitfalls When Valuing Machinery & Equipment
  • Understanding Minimum Compensation in Eminent Domain
  • When is it Time to Call in the Experts?
  • Current Court Decisions

This conference has been approved for eight hours of real estate and appraiser continuing education through the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Register here.

Appraisal, UST Class Profile, UST Student Profile

UST Student Profile – Natalie Mink, Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser

The UST Opus College of Business Master’s in Real Estate program welcomes the new class to the 2012-2013 academic year!  Take a look at a brief snapshot of the students in this year’s class.

NAME: Natalie Mink

What is your educational background and experience?

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting.  Currently, I am a Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser and work for Sunrise Community Banks as an Appraisal Specialist. 

Why did you choose the MSRE program at UST?

I was looking for ways to expand my education regarding all aspects of commercial real estate.  I researched many programs throughout the country and found the MSRE program at UST offered exactly what I was looking for.

What are your future career goals?

I am working towards an SRA designation with the Appraisal Institute and hope to have the opportunity to earn a commercial real estate appraiser license.

As you enter the MSRE program, what aspect of the program are you most excited about?

I am looking forward to networking with other local real estate professionals.

What do you enjoy most about the real estate industry?

I enjoy the fact that the market is constantly changing and every property is unique therefore every day is different with new challenges.

What is your favorite non-real estate pastime and why?

I enjoy doing anything outdoors.

Appraisal, Business Valuation, Commercial Lending, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Economics, Government Policy, Green Building, Industry News, Multifamily, Property Management, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Retail Real Estate

Location, Location, Location

Whether you are looking for ways to position Minnesota as a good location to buy real estate or simply need a reminder of why we like living here next time it snows, the Greater MSP, the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership website is a great resource. Not only do they put together videos about the highlights of the areas on their  YouTube channel, they provide statistics to backup why this is a great area to do business (location, transportation, financing & incentives, demographics, taxes, utilities, innovation, the economy), to live (education, cost of living, healthy lifestyles, philanthropy and volunteerism, sports and recreation, arts and culture, shopping and attractions) and workforce information (labor force statistics and projections, wages, employment by industry and occupation, colleges and universities.)

Just a few of the reasons Minnesota is a great place to live, go to school and do business:

  • #1 region to be an urban cyclist.  Bicycling Magazine
  • More golfers per capita than any other region in America.
  • Top 4 states for workforce quality. CEO Magazine
  • Among America’s top regions for brainpower. The Daily Beast, 2010
  • Where you can get a good cappuccino and eat Thai food yet live on a quiet tree-lined street with a backyard and send your kids to public school. Garrison Keillor Continue Reading
Appraisal, Business Valuation, Commercial Lending, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Property Management, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Retail Real Estate, Uncategorized

Ask the Real Estate Expert!


Do you have questions about the Twin Cities commercial real estate market, valuation of commercial property, real estate finance, real estate law, development, property management, education and careers in real estate, or other industry topics?

Whether you’re a student, novice, or a seasoned industry professional, our experts are here to help!  Send us your real estate questions, no matter how simple or complex, and faculty from the Master of Science in Real Estate program will respond to your questions weekly on the Real Estate Matters blog and via Twitter @USTRealEstate.

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Appraisal, Real Estate Matters - Interview, Real Estate Programs, Uncategorized, UST Student Profile

Student Profile- Lane Thor

DSC_5428“The (best part of the UST MSRE program is the…) whole package; having industry experts as guest speakers, hearing their stories, and learning, first hand, their opinion’s on the major issues facing the real estate industry.  Furthermore, the overall connection to the real estate community as a whole is superb.  These connections will set me up for success in any endeavor I choose. I have had an excellent experience in the program and would recommend it to others in the real estate industry.  The UST and MSRE program’s reputation in the industry is top of the line.”

Real Estate Matters has had the opportunity to sit down with several MSRE students in the graduating class of 2011 and get their impressions of the program, their plans for the future, and their advice to perspective students as their time in the MSRE program draws to a close. The first 2011 graduate, Lane Thor, has been working at the Ramsey County Assessors Office as an Appraiser. Lane was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

What is your background and experience?

I grew up in St. Paul, and have lived in Lino Lakes since 2006. I earned my undergraduate degree at Hamline University in St. Paul, where I majored in Political Science. I was fortunate enough to play football for Hamline while I was a student there, which provided a great opportunity to learn valuable lessons about life, responsibility, and leadership.

So who do you route for in the MIAC?

I have to route for Hamline.  But I promise, I alway route for St. Thomas to win.  If they play Hamline I just hope for a tie…

Where have you worked since earning your undergraduate degree?

I am fortunate, in that my first job out of school is one I have really enjoyed. I began working at the Ramsey County Assessors Office in 2006.  My day-to-day duties involve the appraisal of real estate for tax purposes. I specialize in residential property and am currently one of 52 appraisers working for Ramsey County. The thing I like most about the job is the unique nature of each property.  Each property presents new challenges and opportunities for me every day. As an undergrad I was interested in getting into business law, but after a few law classes I changed my mind.  My passion for public sector work, especially the parts of the government that support the real estate industry, has remained which makes my current position a great fit for me. Also, my job affords me the opportunity to keep a healthy work-life balance, which is something that is very important to me.

Why did you decide to get an MSRE, and how did you choose UST?

I wanted to strengthen my skill set and knowledge of real estate issues to compliment my current background, with the goal of having more opportunities  in the field of real estate. Looking back on my time in the program I can definitely say that I have broadened my skill set and given myself many new and exciting options. Furthermore, my sophistication in real estate has increased two fold, (1) I have learned more about the theoretical aspects of the real estate industry than I ever imagined, and (2) I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of practical knowledge I gained, with regard to the different aspects of real estate. I am certain that this experience will benefit me in any area of real estate that I get into.

I chose St. Thomas, because the program and the school is regarded in the Twin Cities, as the gold standard in real estate education. UST has an extensive professional network, including the real estate advisory board, which is basically all the heavy hitters in the Twin Cities real estate industry. I looked at a few other programs but ultimately chose UST because I wanted to have classroom experience – that personal level, face-to-face contact with my professors and peers is important for me. Because of this I have built life long friendships.  The small class sizes have allowed me to meet everyone and make valuable connections. The classroom experience and the relationships that stem from this structure is what brought me to UST.

What is the best part of the program?

The whole package – having industry experts as guest speakers, hearing their stories, and getting first hand opinion’s on the major issues facing the real estate industry.  Furthermore, the overall connection to the real estate community as a whole is superb and will set me up for success in any endeavor I choose. I have had an excellent experience in the program and would recommend it to others in the real estate industry.  The UST and MSRE program’s reputation in the industry is top of the line.

Do you have some advice for perspective students?

If you have a passion for real estate, this will be a great opportunity.  As with any graduate degree program, the workload gets heavy at times.  But, if you have taken the time to prepare for the program, taken the GMAT, etc. you will find a way to manage the out of classroom work. This program is great for people who love real estate.

What are your career goals?

Right now, I am working on a couple of ideas that I have been formulating for a long time. I wanted to wait until I graduate before I really focused on one plan, as I needed to really see what was involved in each part of the industry, and where my passions really were. I think for the long-term, I would like to go into business for myself. . For the time being, I will continue to pursue high level positions in the public sector dealing with real estate or real estate related issues. After I get settled in, I would like to begin my own business, doing both at the same time, public sector and private. My private business will consist of a full service real estate company focusing solely on  niche markets that  have not been tapped. With good marketing and perseverance there is a lot of upside to  some areas that  remain untouched.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

At Hamline, my football coach told me to be successful you need to surround yourself with the right people. That means making the right connections, having the right network, as well as putting good people near you. At UST you get that, professors who are helping you and working so you succeed. My new network is due in large part to UST.  This alone has made my decision to enter the MSRE program a great one and makes me very excited as I look forward to my future career.

Real Estate Matters would like to thank Lane Thor for taking the time to share his insight and experience in the MSRE program. We would also like to congratulate him on his graduation and look forward to keeping track of his promising career. To find out more information about the UST MSRE program, please visit our website.

Appraisal, Business Valuation, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Industry News, Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame, Property Management, Residential Real Estate, Retail Real Estate, Upcoming Industry Events, UST Real Estate in the News

Call for Nominations – Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame

skyline graphic HoF

The Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame was established by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business to honor leaders in the local real estate community.     

A real estate leader is someone who:

  • has made a significant contribution as a leader in the field of real estate.
  • has impacted his or her particular area of real estate and should be recognized primarily as an exceptional role model in his or her discipline.
  • has displayed the highest level of ethics in his or her business practices.
  • has improved his or her community as a business leader.

Do you know someone who fits this description?  Nominate them for the Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame. Nominations are being accepted until June 1, 2011. Each nomination will be considered for up to three selection periods.



Appraisal, Business Valuation, Industry News, Real Estate Matters - Interview

Real Estate Matters to: Robert Strachota


“My favorite part of the job is helping others at Shenehon succeed, by providing them the tools and support that gives them the best opportunities possible. Seeing those around me at Shenehon have success is the most rewarding aspect of my work, in the same way that a coach shares in the success of his team when they are playing to the best of their abilities.”

This is the first in a series of interviews with the movers and shakers in the real estate industry. Our first interview is with Mr. Robert Strachota, President of Shenehon Company and Co-Chair of the Real Estate advisor board at University of St. Thomas. With almost four decades of experience, Mr. Strachota was gracious enough to share some of his ideas and lessons learned over the course of his career. As the president of Shenehon Mr. Strachota has had an incredible career, here is his work bio (From Shenehon’s website):

Bob is the President of Shenehon Company. He holds both the MAI and CBA designations and has over 30 years of appraisal experience in the commercial real estate and business enterprise valuations. During that time, he has successfully completed thousands of appraisals, including some very unusual assignments such as: railroads, riverboats, ranches, resorts, etc. Bob serves as an expert witness in Federal, State, and District Courts, as well as for commission hearings and special government proceedings. He is an ad hoc professor for three degree-accredited universities and is frequently invited to speak at valuation seminars and extension courses. He acts as a court-approved arbitrator, commissioner, and magistrate in real estate and business valuation disputes. Bob holds the highest designations from the Institute of Business Appraisers and the Appraisal Institute and he publishes in both local and national trade journals.

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