Senior Economist and Associate Director of Research
Ryan Severino is senior economist and associate director of research in the research and economics department at Reis, the team responsible for the firm’s market forecasting, valuation, and portfolio analytics services.
Prior to Reis, Ryan served as the Associate Director of Research at MetLife Real Estate Investments where he was responsible for macroeconomic and real estate market analysis, formulating portfolio strategy, and conducting deal reviews. Before joining MetLife, Ryan served as the Director of Investment Strategy and Market Research at Starwood Capital Group where he directed the entire research effort at the firm. Ryan has also held research positions at Prudential Real Estate Investors and UBS.
Additionally, Ryan currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of finance and economics at Columbia University and New York University teaching courses such as Urban Economics, Portfolio and Risk Management, and Macroeconomics. He also has experience in real state asset management, portfolio management, and acquisitions. Ryan’s original research has appeared in the Wharton Real Estate Review and The Real Estate Finance Journal. His assessments of market conditions have appeared in The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Financial Times, and he has appeared on CNBC and BNN.
Ryan holds a master’s degree from Columbia University, where he studied International Finance and Economics, a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, where he studied Finance, Japanese, and Economics, and is a CFA Charterholder.
Q: How did you get your start on the research side of real estate investment?
My real start began at Prudential Real Estate Investors. I had worked there in asset and portfolio management, but I have always been an academic person. I left Prudential to obtain my graduate degree and I returned to join their research department after I was finished with my graduate program.
Q: As an economist, do you think the government’s perpetual gridlock, especially concerning taxes and fiscal policy, will affect commercial real estate? How?
The problem with gridlock is that in the absence of solutions, uncertainty prevails and this uncertainty tends to have a paralyzing impact on businesses. Until they know how the government is going to act, they choose to do very little, or nothing, even as the economy slowly recovers.
Q: Have you found certain U.S. markets or asset classes have less transparency than others? Are there any asset types or regions where concrete numbers are difficult to find?
There is still a huge rift in the quality of the data between the primary property types and the secondary and tertiary property types. Geographically, most metro areas have good data for the primary property types so the problem is not really a function of geography.
Q: How has Reis been affected by changes in the real estate market? Did you change your strategy or priorities as a result?
Irrespective of economic and market conditions, we continue to expand our research coverage into new property types and geographical areas and we continue to develop new and creative ways to serve our clients. I would expect this expansion to continue in the future.
Q: In what ways do you imagine the commercial real estate industry will be different 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
Wow. I could write a dissertation on this. To keep the readers from having to endure that, I will stick to my corner of the real estate industry and say that 5-10 years down the road there will be increased research coverage and transparency for CRE which should help make the asset class a more efficient investment.
Q: Your work is closely connected to the appraisal industry. Are there any strategies that would help appraisers and their clients better account for sudden changes in the market (as in 2008-2009)?
Our monthly data can help our clients recognize changes in the market as they occur, rather than waiting for quarterly data. This is especially important during periods of sudden change such as late 2008 and early 2009.
Q: What organizations are you a member of? Why are they important to you?
Professionally, I am a member of the American Economic Association, the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, the CFA Institute, and the New York Society of Security Analysts. Personally, I am a member of the Columbia Alumni Association and the Georgetown Alumni Association. These organizations are important to me because networking is of paramount importance in today’s economy. It is vital to build a network with people in my own industry and profession. However, it is also beneficial to network with individuals outside of my usual sphere which is why I stay involved in the alumni associations of my almae matres.
Q: As a teacher, what advice do you give to students interested in joining your industry?
Never be afraid to take the initiative – ask a question, introduce yourself, start a conversation. People will always better remember someone if they show interest and initiative. And never burn any bridges. Commercial real estate is a very small world that continues to shrink as technology improves.