Author Archives: Seema Iyer

Announcing our New Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition For Students and Alumni of the University of Baltimore

These are exciting times to be a real estate developer in Baltimore. With a number of new initiatives designed to grow the city’s economy, and new zoning regulations to better support real estate development, the University of Baltimore is excited to launch the UB Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition (REFVC) — an innovative way to support emerging developers who have the education and desire to work in Baltimore, but lack experience in the management and financing requirements of real estate development. The REFVC is the culmination of months of internal and external planning, all focused on how the University of Baltimore can deliver the metropolitan area’s best educational experience in real estate development – from envisioning a project straight through to its funding and construction. In that regard, Baltimore deserves the very best in terms of intellectual prowess, work ethic, and more.

The competition, launching this month, will provide a series of curated trainings with local development experts and community tours for the student fellows chosen to participate. Each of the fellows will identify a neighborhood, create a project, complete a development plan and usher through an application for underwriting. The goal is for students to provide a “pitch” for a development project that is feasible and addresses a genuine community need. The winning proposal will get the necessary financing up to $1 million in a Guidance Line of Credit from Baltimore Community Lending (BCL), a local U.S. Treasury Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

For the past five years, as director of the Real Estate & Economic Development (REED) program in the Merrick School of Business, I, along with my colleagues, have been working with our students to train them in business and real estate principles with a particular focus on applied learning and social entrepreneurship. I have watched these dedicated students, many of whom are fine craftspeople who have developed or “flipped” one or two properties at a time, attempt to grow their skills into a sustainable development business. But moving from a small-business to a mid-sized one requires two kinds of access: to capital and to a good team with whom they can gain the experience to help them reach a recurring level of financial and development success. Indeed, real estate development is never a “one and done” experience. Success in this field is measured in how many times the developer has negotiated his or her way through the process. With the UB Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition, we intend to ensure a great experience and a successful outcome. The winners are many: the students, the city, UB, and our incredible diversity of neighborhoods.

Good Timing for Development

The ability to offer this kind of program is extremely timely. With the completion of the City’s new zoning code in 2017 that helps clarify the rules of development, major capital investments in 21st century schools, the upcoming disbursements of the community catalyst grants by the City’s Department of Housing, and innovative financing resources through Mayor Pugh’s Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund and federal Opportunity Zones spurring development in emerging neighborhoods, we are sitting on the cusp of great things happening in Baltimore. But this optimism comes after a long period of uncertainty: since the economic downturn of 2007, Baltimore has lost several competent mid-sized development teams that specialize in development projects ranging from $2 million to $10million. Yes, the economy has recovered, but the problem today is the lack of developers with the financial equity, experience and bandwidth to continue the rebuilding and stabilization of challenged neighborhoods.

To be prepared for these impending opportunities, I am very excited to launch our new University of Baltimore Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition in partnership with BCL. With their perspective from the lending side, BCL is also interested in supporting developers who can provide workforce housing and other neighborhood amenities in middle-market areas.  The challenge in many well-established neighborhoods has been both awareness of and access to capital for otherwise potentially competent and supportable developers located in Baltimore City.

With our UB students and alum eager to engage in more socially-conscientious development, and BCL looking to lend to sustainable developers in middle-market neighborhoods, a happy match was born! The 2019 UB Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition provides a series of curated trainings with local development experts and community tours for the student starting in February through May 2019.

This project provides students and alumni who are learning about or have experience in Real Estate and Economic Development and want to start their own business with the hands-on technical assistance that only comes with experience, trial and error. Students at UB are generally working professionals during the day, so will be paid at least $1,000 as a Fellow so that participants in the challenge can take every advantage of the program.

Working also with UB’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) that routinely conducts student business competitions such as “Startup Maryland”, students will have access to CEI resources on how to put together a successful pitch. The final pitch competition will be scheduled during the week of June 3.

Partners in the Project

The REED Program at the University of Baltimore is the only undergraduate program of its kind in Maryland and began in 2007. There are currently 45 matriculating students, several of whom have some small-scale experience in construction and development and come to UB in hopes of growing a business. Incubating the next generation of mid-sized developers is of critical importance to the City of Baltimore. The REED program and the REFVC is supported by an active Advisory Board who represent all sectors within the metropolitan real estate industry and will be involved to provide guidance to the students during the competition.

BCL also has existing relationships with banks in the region such as PNC, BB&T M&T and other local financial institutions who will be a part of the evaluation and selection process.

Real Estate And Economic Development (REED) and Real Estate Law Association (RELA) Students Participate In 7th Annual Saul Ewing Real Estate Conference

In November 2015, University of Baltimore’s Real Estate and Economic Development (REED) program students along with Real Estate Law Association (RELA) students were invited to attend the 7th Annual Saul Ewing Real Estate Conference, held at the Baltimore Convention Center.

UBsaulewingPictured left to right are: Bob Aydukovic, UB Executive in Residence (REED) President of MCCEI; Seema Iyer, Director of UB’s Real Estate and Economic Development (REED); Duncan May, UB Law Real Estate Student; Paul Rodriguez, UB Law Real Estate Student; Zachary Hansen, UB Law Real Estate Student; Howard Majev, Saul Ewing; Michael Culp, UB REED Student; Judith Neighoff, UB REED Student. Not pictured:William Carter, Christopher Shaner and George Rice.

More than 250 professionals engaged in the commercial real estate industry from around the country, including developers, brokers, bankers and affiliated companies that service this sector attended the program. This year’s event was titled “Real Estate in 2016 – Adapting and Succeeding in a Changing Industry,” and featured a Dealmakers panel that examined new opportunities that exist in the real estate marketplace. The keynote speaker was Linda Madway, Vice President and General Counsel of RioCan who provided “fresh perspectives on the U.S. real estate market.”

The students were tasked with writing summaries of the break-out sessions focused on millennials, e-commerce, technology and other trends transforming the real estate industry; an examination of the multi-family sector and finding equity and debt in today’s evolving marketplace, as well as the luncheon presentation and dealmakers panel. See the full agenda for the event.

  • Dealmakers Panel- Recognizing New Opportunities in the Marketplace–By Duke May Saul Ewing Summary
  • Panel: Time to Take Another Look at the Multifamily Sectorby George Rice Saul Ewing Rice
  • Dealmakers Panel – Understanding and Taking Advantage of the New Opportunities in the Marketplace –By Christopher Shaner SaulEwingConference

See more at: 

Meet REED’s New Program Director

Seema D. Iyer, PhD

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.