Semi-Annual Newsletter: 2017 Midyear Update


By Matt Slepin

My headline from the first half of the year is that our real estate world still looks stable. The cycle is absolutely long-in-the-tooth. There will be a downturn, of course, but it feels that it will be driven by outside forces, not bad behavior in the real estate or financial services sectors. Business has, so far, survived the ignominies of the Trump Presidency, but the administration is certainly one of the major exogenous risks. And the timing in different sectors is what you see in the headlines – a market top but not a crash in multifamily, lots of change and dislocation in the retail sector, and questions across the board on the economic impacts of emerging technologies like driverless cars.

The search business has been steady, if not strong. We have expanded our team in Southern California and have opened a physical office in Newport Beach. We have expanded our four person team on the East Coast with an additional Principal in our Bethesda office, which is now three professionals. We have had assignments in all disciplines and sectors of the business with a growing body of work in leadership succession assignments due largely to baby boomer leaders’ planning for their eventual retirements. Mary and I co-wrote an article about this for the NAREIM Journal Dialogues, “Succession for the Rest of Us,” available here.

In addition to our search work, much of my fascination has come from hosting the Leading Voices with ULI Podcast series. You have probably received emails from both Terra Search and from ULI and I encourage you to listen in on at least one of the episodes and hopefully subscribe, which is easy to do from your smart phone. The conversations with leaders across the industry have been inspiring and have provided grist for the mill of my urbanist belief that we in the real estate industry are creating environments that make a real difference in our cities. We can reflexively think of the affordable housing folks as the only ones doing “good work” in our industry, but all these stories show the values, placemaking brilliance, and company-building vision of leaders from all corners of the business. These interviews have lifted my game and my perspective and I hope that you find at least some of the same.


It’s Easy to Get “Leading Voices with ULI”

  1. Go to the Leading Voices page, here:
  2. Click through to Android or iTunes


  1. Android users: Get the Stitcher app from Google Play.
    In Stitcher, search for “Leading Voices with ULI” and click the plus sign (+), to add it to your Favorites List. Now go to the Favorites List. Tell it to download new episodes by clicking the gear in the upper right corner.
  2. For iPhones and iPads, use the podcast app.
    Search for “Leading Voices with ULI” and hit “subscribe.”


Terra Search continues to grow and the business continues to thrive. We are proud of the firm’s accomplishments and our continued focus on pairing the depth and quality of our advisory role with the transactional nature of search. Some updates from the team:

  • Terra is pleased to announce that we have opened an office in Southern California to be led by Sharon Sterling, Managing Director and Ellie Gardner, Principal. The office is located in Newport Beach within walking distance to Fashion Island and Corona Del Mar Plaza just a block north of Pacific Coast Highway.
  • Ellen Mendelsohn joined Terra Search in our Bethesda office as a Principal. Ellen will be focused mainly on the Affordable Housing and Community Development practice at Terra and will be working closely with Partner Alan Greenwald and Managing Director Greg Melanson. Prior to joining Terra, Ellen was the Senior Director of the Leadership Network at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Washington, D.C. where she executed and oversaw leadership initiatives for the organization’s nearly 40,000 members worldwide.


Lewis Taulbee, Head of Retail,

The ConAm Group
Noel Webb, SVP Investment Management & Investor Relations,
San Diego

Chris Peters, Senior Director, Real Estate,
San Francisco

Herman & Kittle Properties
David Willmarth, Development Director, Mid-Atlantic

Housing Partnership Equity Trust
Anne McCulloch, Chief Executive Officer, Washington, DC

Brad Perozzi, Regional President,
Southern California

Monument Real Estate
Melissa Dominguez, Vice President Human Resources, Miami

Nevada HAND, Inc.
Michael Shohet, EVP of Real Estate Development, Las Vegas

Sunset Development Company
Robyn Urvinitka, Senior Vice President of Marketing, San Ramon, California

Westlake Realty Group
Jessica Smith, SVP Portfolio and Asset Management, San Mateo, California