Dr. Sam Chandan is embarking on a quest to reach the housing sector with up-to-date, refined analysis of the real estate market. A graduate of and current adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Dr. Chandan recently left his position as top global economist at Real Capital Analytics to start his own commercial real estate research firm, Chandan Economics. The purpose of the new firm is to clearly show the connection between the economic and general investment landscape and the performance of real estate assets. Dr. Chandan, who hopes his work will provide developers, lenders, and investors with keen insights into the current housing market, sat down with Multifamily Executive to talk about his path to entrepreneurship.

MFE: What was your first job in the multifamily industry?
CHANDAN: I knew for a long time that I wanted to pursue a career in research, which is what ultimately led me to pursue my Ph.D. Shortly before completing my doctoral study, I joined Reis to head up its economics and research department. I was at Reis for six years, right through taking the company public.

MFE: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
CHANDAN: In starting a new company, stepping away from a very secure, established role, the best advice I got was that, for folks who are ready to do the hard work, it will always be worth taking the risks.

MFE: What made you decide to leave Real Capital Analytics and start Chandan Economics?
CHANDAN: RCA is clearly the leader in its area and there is no firm that does as good a job in tracking sales and investment activity in real estate. I wanted to use my economic and analytical skills in a slightly different setting, in particular with the economy and financial market. So to really pursue that, I decided it was appropriate to establish a research platform. But I will always remain a part of RCA’s extended family.

MFE: What are your goals for Chandan Economics?
CHANDAN: I think that the firm can play a very important role in helping real estate investors understand where we are economically. It’s really about being able to help real estate participants, whether they be lenders or investors, understand the availability and quality of credit and how it can impact the functioning commercial market.

MFE: What do you see as a significant challenge for the multifamily industry in the coming years?
CHANDAN: The major challenge is threefold. 1) In how people manage the day-to-day rising interest rate environment, since rising cost in capital invariably means upward pressure on borrowing costs. 2) In gauging the dynamic between single-family housing and the apartment sector. Right now, the bias is strongly in favor of renting, but that relationship is a complex one and one that is still in flux. Big multifamily investors, and certainly developers, will have to remain vigilant in monitoring conditions of the single-family market as that relationship develops. 3) The Treasury department, HUD, and the administration are actively engaged in developing a long-term plan for how to reduce the role of the GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) in the housing market. That certainly has implications for the single-family market, but also for the multifamily market.

MFE: Can you elaborate a little on that?
CHANDAN: In most markets in the country, GSEs represent a dominant chair of multifamily financing, either directly or indirectly, so we will have to see what this very political debate will ultimately mean for availability and the cost of credit for the multifamily sector. What it comes back to is that there are a lot of very positive trends in the apartment sector right now related to very affordable cost of capital, low cap rates, and stronger values and fundamentals.

Other multifamily industry comings and goings:
• Heather Bartow has been promoted to Investment Manager for the Upper Midwest Region for Pinnacle, an AMS Co. She has been with Pinnacle since 2006 and will be overseeing five properties in Minnesota.
• Susan M. de Franca, former president of Related Sales, has joined Prudential Douglas Elliman as president and CEO of the firm’s Development Division.
• Kurt Twining has been appointed to the newly created role of Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer for RealPage. Twining will oversee employee recruitment, compensation, benefits, human resource management systems, and organizational development.
• Erin Ferraro is the new Advertising Manager for The Collier Cos. She will take control of all marketing vendor relations, online marketing and website upkeep, as well as maintain ad campaigns.