Meet REED’s New Program Director

It is my honor and pleasure to now serve as program director for the University of Baltimore’s Real Estate & Economic Development Program (REED), the only bachelors program in Maryland designed to prepare graduates for careers in real estate investment, commercial property development and/or management, economic development and related fields. Students explore the connection between theory and industry practice as they delve into a curriculum developed in collaboration with real estate professionals, bankers, property managers and others. Our partnering industry experts serve a guest speakers, adjunct faculty and Advisory Board members (see below) to lead classroom discussions, facilitate field trips and site visits, provide internships and offer students invaluable guidance and career opportunities.  UB’s applied and practical approach to the business of real property prepares our students for their future employers and the real estate community. Examples of core courses include:

  • Real Estate Principles and Transactions
  • Real Estate Market Analysis
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Law
  • Property Management
  • Introduction to Economic Development
  • Real Estate Investments

By way of background, I am the Associate Director of the Jacob France Institute, the Merrick School of Business’s economic research center. I oversee the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance at JFI which collects, integrates and disseminates community-based quality of life indicators. BNIA-JFI annually produces the City’s Vital Signs report that “takes the pulse” of what’s going on in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. The indicators are bits of information that, when compiled together, reflect the profile of places. By continuously monitoring neighborhoods, we can notice changes that might not be evident without this ongoing measurement. The data has proven invaluable to real estate industry professional, particularly those working in New Market Tax Credit areas.

When I arrived at UB in 2011, I brought with me an idea for a project that would both create a database of as well as expose students to the development review process that most projects need to go through before building permits are issued. Understanding and keeping track of the status of projects during the development review phase is complicated because projects evolve as developers ensure compliance with local land use regulations and produce contextually sensitive final designs. I invited student volunteers to work with me during that first summer semester to develop a sustainable, reliable way to track projects based on publically-available information that did not infringe on the potential need for confidentiality as projects moved through the process.  Based on a prototype developed by the students in 2011, the Baltimore Chapter of the Association of Builders & Contractors has supported ongoing development of the database so that their members of contractors and developers from across the region can efficiently plan and track the status of projects as early as possible in the developmental stage.  In 2014, the Baltimore Pipeline was launched and continues to not only provide early information but also employ the talents and ingenuity of UB students.

This is just the beginning of where the REED program is headed.  I invite all real estate industry professionals to connect with UB’s REED Program in any or all of these potential ways to advance the programs strategic goals:

1)      Raise awareness of the program among Baltimore area industry firms and professionals—Learn more about the program during our Lessons From Legends series and other events hosted at UB

2)      Increase student enrollment—The REED program began in 2007, and aims to grow to 25 new students enrolled per year

3)      Mentor current UB students—Formal internships and informal mentorships are vital ways that students apply classroom knowledge to real work experiences

4)      Ensure timely completion/graduation—Whether students are full-time or part-time, our goal is to identify and overcome barriers to timely completion of their degree

5)      Align curriculum to meet industry needs—Our curriculum is developed in collaboration with industry professionals so that students have the needed skills to hit the ground running on the job or in advanced degrees

Finally, I want to sincerely thank past and present board members for their time, thoughts and support to the REED program and students.  For more information, visit or contact me at

 REED Board Members, 2014-2015

 Robert M. Aydukovic, CRE (Chair), President, Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation

Nichole Battle, Executive Director, GEDCO

Wendy Blair, Senior Vice President, Remax Commercial Logic

Jeffrey R. Connolly, Director, Asset Management, Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.

Karen Forbes, Asst Dir. Community Access& Partnerships, Md Dept of Housing & Community Development

Kathleen Flynn, Vice President, Alex. Brown Realty

Terri Harrington, Senior Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle

Toni R. Harris, Regional Property Manager, WPM Real Estate Management Co.

Elizabeth (Liz) Jones, Esquire, Managing Settlement Attorney, Home First Title Group

Jeffrey Kayce, Development Manager, Bozzuto Development

John (Chip) Lambertson, Senior Cost Manager, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.

William (Willy) H. Moore, Vice President, Southway Builders

Josh Neiman, Assistant Director for Development, Maryland Economic Development Corporation

Monica A. Robertson, AIA LEED AP, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

Barbara Simmons, Group Manager / Administrative VP, M & T Bank, Commercial Real Estate Finance

Joseph L. Sutton, President, Insurance Services Group, Inc.


What is the Real Estate Industry?

So, how many times have you heard the phrase “the real estate industry” tossed around? In reality, the real estate industry is more than buying and selling real estate, renovating or constructing buildings, or renting versus owning property. It encompasses products and services that make a structure possible to be designed or located on a specific site, utilized or occupied for a specific purpose, or purchasable by an individual or entity. Products are not limited to raw materials which are combined to produce a structure. Services are not limited to listing, showing and transferring of property, or financing the acquisition of a property.

By definition, an industry is a particular form or branch of economic or commercial activity. The real estate industry encompasses design (architecture, interior or landscaping), engineering, buying and selling of land and buildings, financing, insuring, property management and construction. Each of these components has subsets or specializations. There are so many different aspects that you are not limited to a single area if one of the components is of interest.

Designing a building includes architecture, specifically interior design or decorating, and engineering. Architecture is the style and method of design and construction of a building. Interior design or decorating is the art and process of setting up a room, including colors, layout and placement of furniture and decorations.  Engineering is the science and design associated with site layout (civil engineering), including site setup such as grading (slope of the land) and the need for utilities to reach the structure, as well as structural integrity (structural engineering) which is the skeleton of the building and its ability to support the load or weight of the structure and its use. Other types of engineering are also critical, such as mechanical, plumbing and electrical, each of which is responsible for systems specific to each type of service required by a building for its intended occupancy and use.

There is also much to learn about the financial side of the process. A purchase transaction is more than simply borrowing money to buy a property. It requires a clear title to the property, so you can legally transfer ownership and rights of a structure or lot to another individual or entity. Sometimes legal agreements are made through contracts so that the continued assume use can transfer with the property to  its next owner.  Financing can include a third party lending money, such as a bank or a private lender, someone with the cash available loan it to another for a predetermined interest rate, or someone who can buy the property outright with cash. More often than not, an independent appraisal is required to determine if the purchase price is at market rate for the value of the property. If not, then the third-party lender, or even private lender, may require additional cash contributions or collateral to the purchase. If a transaction is made possible by any means other than buying with the proposed owner’s cash, then insurance is required to guarantee that the value of the structure is maintained in the event of damage.

For each of the previously defined components of the real estate industry, the need for entitlements exists. This includes approvals for use of the land for the intended purpose, which may require zoning variance approvals; design approvals of the proposed development, which may require design review approval or urban design approval, depending on the jurisdiction; approvals for construction or installation of utilities in the public right of way, which may require a public works agreement approval or developer’s agreement approval; and most definitely building permits for construction if that is part of the process.

Architects, civil engineers, financing institutions, developers, builders, all need to have their part of the project reviewed and approved at some point during the transaction or development stage. These entitlement stages can be managed by each participant, or it can be taken care of by an individual known as an expeditor. This role requires the ability to logistically manage the flow of information as well to understand the high priority of providing and disseminating information in a way that keeps the project’s review moving forward, while responses are being provided or changes being incorporated.

As generic as your interest may currently be in real estate, you will find that there are multiple areas of opportunity for you to learn about and eventually pursue.  Starting in one area does not limit you in terms of your professional development. In fact, the pursuit of multiple areas of knowledge and experience will only strengthen your core understanding, and make you a stronger participant in this vital industry.

Lisa Junker is an alumna, advisory board member of UB’s Real Estate program and Vice President, Project Coordination at Colbert Matz Rosenfelt, Inc.

“EMC”: The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Capitalist

No endeavor or enterprise can reach its full potential if it does not take advantage of what I call “EMC”: the entrepreneur/manager/capitalist approach to progress. Individuals and organizations can benefit equally – and avoid insurmountable challenges that may come from within or from the outside – by considering the answers to the questions that EMC raises for you:

• the “entrepreneur”: What is it that we do? Why do we do it? Whom does it benefit?
• the “manager”: How do we lead, direct and support the people, systems and resources critical to the mission?
• the “capitalist”: How do we make a profit? How do we maximize our value to stakeholders and investors?

Very rarely does an individual possess the natural ability and intuitiveness to serve in all three of these roles over the course of his or her lifetime. Some extraordinary few, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs, manage to do more than one at a time. Accordingly, as we grow and evolve, we can learn who and what we are within the EMC rubric, and act accordingly. We learn what we can and can’t be responsible for, where we need help and collaboration, how we can gain support to achieve our goals. Remember that our individualized EMC is a target, a goal – and it’s often a team effort. No matter what we’re doing, we must learn to trust others – and model behavior that allows others to trust in us as well.

A Personal Example:

When I was in college and studying business, I believed that I could get a job that would pay me to develop an idea and provide me with the tools and resources I needed to complete the task. My perspective was pretty straightforward: “I am a good worker, smart, and certain that whatever you, as my employer, needed me to do, I could deliver. I, along with about 200,000 other students with the same perspective, were trying to live up to that standard. At that point in my life, I was the “E” in the EMC approach: completely entrepreneurial, independent, a self-starter.

I thought I could go it alone—organize my life around school, work and a social life, and achieve my goals, no problem. I was wrong. Instead, over time I recognized that I needed help to stay focused, forge my path, and successfully graduate in order to get the job I wanted. It was a university adviser who supported me so I could develop a better schedule, and strike out on a more efficient and focused path to reach my goal. Furthermore, her suggestions led me to discover study groups and resources previously unknown to me. She was the “M,” the manager, in the EMC approach.

My “M” also helped me overcome other obstacles along the way, such as when she introduced me to a grant program and additional resources that were willing to invest in my education. They were willing to invest in me because they saw that I could be a productive member of the community, and eventually pay back what I had borrowed. They served as the “C,” the all-important capitalists, in my drive to be successful.

The EMC approach to our endeavors in life is universal. Any idea requires conception, management, execution and funding—often more than once. Your education, personal relationships, job, a new business, or a social program: all of these require the same three critical elements, if your greatest potential is to be realized. Furthermore, the most wonderful characteristic of EMC optics is that while the elements are always the same, their application and development are dynamic. The entrepreneur, the manager, and the capitalist all live within each of us, and grows and evolves as we do.

Athan Sunderland is an advisory board member of UB’s Real Estate program and executive vice president for Pinkard Properties. Over the past 15 years, he has represented the investment interests of several asset classes spanning local office buildings to multi-billion dollar REITs. Athan’s commitment to a customer-centric approach has been recognized with both peer- and industry-sponsored awards.