Written by The Business Journal Staff
Director of the Gazarian Real Estate Center
Associate professor of real estate for the Craig School of Business at Fresno State
Education: Ph.D. in applied economics, masters of sciences degree in economics, Auburn University, Alabama; Bachelor of science degree in economics, International University of the Americas, Costa Rica
Family: Married to Maria Paula from Bogota, Colombia. No children, one dog – a 6-year-old golden retriever named “Yaco.”
Tell us about the Gazarian Real Estate Center and its services.
The Gazarian Real Estate Center is dedicated to providing a bridge between academia and the real estate industry. We have a three-pronged mission – education, community development, outreach and research. In education, we are in charge of the real estate curriculum for business degrees with real estate options in the Craig School of Business. We also teach the classes and provide guidance and advise students.
On the community development side, we invite speakers and host events for the local real estate community, particularly in providing information and knowledge that enhances professionalism, ethics and business opportunities. Further, we conduct local market research and academic research.
How and why was the center started?
The center was created through a generous donation by Arnold and Dianne Gazarian about 12 years ago, primarily to enhance ethical and professional practices in the real estate industry.
What is your role in the Center?
My primary role is to provide leadership and direction. Most commonly, I spend a big part of my day communicating with people in the local real estate community, whether to seek opportunities for partnerships, event sponsorship or simply securing a future guest speaker.
Besides my director responsibilities, I also teach two real estate courses per semester, so I spend most of my day preparing for classes and attending to my students’ academic needs. I currently am in a tenure-track position at Fresno State, which involves teaching, research and service responsibilities.
With respect to research, I try to spend some time every week pushing forward my current research agenda – real estate-related research projects intended for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
What is your history with the center, and how did you reach your current position?
A native of Argentina, I also have lived in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru and eventually earned my Ph.D. at a U.S. university.
I became the center’s director in August 2017, after coming here from a small university in Columbus, Georgia, where I worked as an economics professor and director of graduate business programs. I have been doing research in real estate since my doctoral dissertation in 2006, but that was the extent of my involvement with the industry. Becoming director of the Gazarian Real Estate Center gave me the chance to merge and pursue three professional goals: Teaching real estate courses and being involved with students interested in the field, having an administrative role directly related to real estate and doing related research.
How can people in the real estate, banking and finance industries get involved with the Gazarian Center?
First, attending our events offers opportunities to learn more about the real estate industry and to network with others working in the field. Our events are well attended and we always have interesting topics to present.
There also are opportunities to sponsor our events and be more involved in organizing them and logistics. People also can become mentors to our students or provide internship opportunities.
Our real estate students are eager to get hands-on experience and to receive expert advice that can help them further their professional careers.
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
My very first paid job was interviewing people for a survey conducted by a U.S. university in Nicaragua.I was 17 years old and very excited to be paid to do something I already knew I would be doing in the future. Now, I think the one thing it taught me was humbleness. I interviewed people in the poorest conditions, yet I was treated with utter respect, grace and support. I experienced a similar situation in 2000 in Honduras interviewing people after Hurricane Mitch had practically destroyed the whole country, and I felt so inspired and humbled when a family invited me to eat homemade tortillas and cheese.
Why is the gap between home prices and income in California growing, and what can be done to alter this trend?
Home prices increase for a myriad of reasons, from both the consumer side (demand) and the producer side (supply). Over the years, the pace of home price appreciation has surpassed growth in wages and income in general. Among the driving factors in salary determination and increases are human capital (education) and productivity. These two go hand-in-hand. Researchers find that areas that include Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where the “big” companies tend to locate, attract well-educated, highly productive individuals with high-income potential. Competition for space drives housing prices substantially higher than the average wage growth, so low-skilled workers are being pushed out to more affordable commuting areas, which also are experiencing surging home prices.
As for potential solutions, reducing costs of producing new housing would be a great start, as well as providing the right incentives to produce more housing. On the job markets, facilitating training and education for people could potentially increase productivity and give people access to the high-paying jobs available in high-cost areas.
What are the future plans for your center?
We are putting together a real estate tour bus in late spring 2019. We hope this will become one of our most important and popular annual events. The idea is to have people involved in the real estate industry tour around the Fresno, Clovis and Madera areas and find out what is going on in construction, development, business opportunities, etc.
We also are looking into revamping our real estate curriculum to provide our student more current and updated approaches to real estate education.
Further, we are hoping to expand our outreach efforts and get more involved with the local real estate community through speakers, information sharing and collaborations.