Holsapple will now be ‘finishing things’

Last month, the CSU School of Business’s Everitt Real Estate Center announced the appointment of Eric Holsapple as its new executive director. Holsapple, co-owner of Loveland Commercial Real Estate, helped found the Everitt Center and has served as the interim director twice before.

Question: In many ways, you’ve been with the Everitt Center from the beginning. How will your knowledge of the center help you accomplish your goals here? And what might you do differently this time?

Answer: My knowledge of the Everitt Center will be an asset in a couple of realms. I’m familiar with the stakeholders and the faculty at CSU. Because I’ve done this job before in an interim capacity, my learning curve will be shorter. There are two worlds to consider: the university and the market. The Everitt Center bridges the gap between those two worlds, but that’s a challenge. The difference between this time and the other times is that in the past I was always trying to put the pieces together for the next person. This time that next person is me. I’m viewing the position with permanence and will be working on finishing things rather than just getting them started. I’ll be working personally to see which options are best for the university and the community. This is a position of collaboration, and that may mean that things take longer, which means that I need to be more patient and take a longer-term view of things.

Q: How will your connections with real estate professionals benefit the Everitt Center and real estate students at CSU?

A: I know most of the people in the real estate community in Northern Colorado and I think they trust me. I also think that trust is mutual, and will help get students out to get some real-world experience. It’s important to get students out there, working on projects and getting experience while they’re still at CSU. That experience is invaluable. Because I know the business community, I can help students make connections, which in turn may help them find employment here when they graduate. Then that will help build linkages for future students.

Q: You’ve said that you want to increase enrollment in the real estate department of the business school. How do you plan to accomplish that and what is your timeline?

A: Enrollment in the real estate program has declined over the last five years, and I want to build that back up over the next three to four years. I think we can accomplish that, especially as the real estate economy recovers. We also have to make sure that classes have good instructors and relevant content. Students need to be able to find jobs when they graduate. Also, there isn’t really a real estate-specific class before a student’s junior year, so we’re working on spreading the word about the real estate school through the rest of the business school.

Q: The Everitt Center’s research to date has focused on residential trends. As a commercial developer, what plans do you have for including commercial information?

A: What we’re starting on is an assessment of what’s available in the real estate community. We need to answer the question of, “What is out there and what is needed?” We will also need funding to staff that research. We have residential indices, and we want a commercial match to that, but first we need input from the market, then we need the funding. We’ll reach out to the commercial community to help with that funding. We want to have the funding in place by the latter half of 2013, so we’ll be working on it.

Q: The real estate market is showing signs of life. Sales of new homes are up sharply, for example. What are your projections for the next year or two?
A: I predict a continued increase in residential pricing. I think there will be a good jump in prices in 2013, maybe as much as 10 percent. Existing lots are also being used up very rapidly, and the next round of lots will be expensive and difficult to find. This will increase home prices. Commercially, things are more hit and miss. There’s gradual but steady improvement. There are two big commercial projects coming up in our area: the Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont and the Foothills Mall in Fort Collins. They’re both huge statements of confidence in the commercial market and will lead the way in changing the landscape.
Q: Some in Congress have called for a repeal of the mortgage interest deduction on federal income taxes. Does that worry you? If not, what’s the biggest threat to the real estate sector’s recovery at the moment?

A: I think (the repeal of mortgage interest tax deduction) would be disastrous. I think that deduction is a big incentive for home buying. Home values would have to decline because a repeal would really slow home sales. It would stall recovery. Repealing the deduction is essentially reversing the home buyer tax credit. It would be very detrimental.
Q: Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., has proposed the establishment of a temporary government-backed trust that would allow about 8 million underwater borrowers to refinance at a lower interest rate at no cost to taxpayers. The National Association of Realtors likes the idea. What are your thoughts on such a plan?

A: Well, I haven’t studied this specific effort, but generally the system works better working with homebuyers to find refinancing options. I’m in favor of negotiated workouts, which entail negotiating with the borrower to find a debt level they can afford, which keeps them in their house.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR
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