American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust named Ross Sanders as vice president, acquisitions, focused on seniors housing.

Before joining the company, Sanders was senior vice president for Senior Living Investment Brokerage. In the course of his career, Sanders has worked with owners and operators across the country completing nearly $300 million of seniors housing transactions and providing property valuations for more than $900 million in assets.

NREI talked to Sanders about whether new construction might finally pick up, whether skilled nursing is kaput and how the improving economy is affecting the sector. An edited version of that interview follows.

NREI: How do you see 2013 shaping up when it comes to new construction—I’ve seen some predictions that there could be some room for movement after so many years of saturation—do you see any action on that end? If so, why could we see more new construction now? If not, why not?

Ross Sanders: I believe we will continue to see an increase in development activity in 2013 and beyond, but that is easier said than done. There are a number of groups out there with development dreams, many of which are finding it very difficult to engage a willing lender and equity contributor to move forward with projects. Lenders have begun to cautiously loosen their purse strings for development and prefer owners and operators with an extensive track record. Until lenders become comfortable with new development I do not anticipate a rapid increase in new construction.

There are a number of markets across the country where demand is beginning to outpace supply and I anticipate this will continue as baby boomers have just begun to flood the seniors housing market. We have also seen a recent increase in occupancy across the sector specifically at assisted living and memory care communities. Overall, I believe there will be a lot of buzz about new developments in 2013 but many developers will find it to be a difficult and slow process.

NREI: The last two years saw a lot of M&A activity—will it be a continuing trend into 2013? Why?

Ross Sanders: I think the reason for much of the activity was sellers rushing to close deals. ... With the expiration of the Bush tax cuts many sellers took advantage of the lower capital gains tax by closing transactions in 2012. In 2013, I expect to see similar activity levels but sellers with different motivations.

I believe there will be less quality and more underperforming assets available on the market. The reason for this is many larger owners are working to strengthen their portfolios by removing outliers and stragglers, banks continue to remove unwanted assets from their balance sheets and inexperienced single owners and developers may choose not to deal with the complexities of the Affordable Health Care Act. The seniors housing industry is getting more and more complicated and regulated, which will bring the quality owners/operators to the top.

REITs will continue to be a large presence in the industry teaming with quality operators and growing their portfolios. I believe we will see aggressive pricing this year as REITs compete to add newer and performing assets to their portfolios. The attractive pricing that the REITs will offer may entice more owners toward the selling block in 2013.

NREI: What about skilled nursing? Lots of people are saying that skilled nursing is going to continue to be a less popular option—what do you think?

Ross Sanders: As home health agencies, assisted living and short-term rehabilitation facilities continue to be added to the marketplace seniors have more choices when it comes to care. I believe skilled nursing is not becoming less popular there are just more options for seniors than there have been in the past. There will always be a need for skilled nursing services.

New models are being developed to make skilled nursing facilities feel less institutional and these models will continue to gain in popularity. Given the aging population and the unique level of care received at skilled nursing facilities, there will be a consistent need for these services which other outlets cannot provide.

NREI: How do you see the continually improving economy will affect investments in seniors housing?

Ross Sanders: As the economy improves, so will investments in seniors housing. The healthcare and seniors housing space weathered the economic downturn better than almost all other real estate asset classes. Seniors housing is not just an economics-driven industry—as a large sector of the American population has begun to reach 65 years of age, the demand is unmistakable.

Most importantly, the improvement of the economy will coincide with the residential real estate market. The majority of seniors maintain a significant portion of their equity in their homes. As the residential market improves, so will the ability for seniors to sell their homes and use proceeds to move into seniors housing communities. With this economic improvement, I would expect a further increase in occupancy. As communities have increases in census, owners and operators may be inclined to implement rent increases or expand existing properties adding to the overall profitability of the asset class.

In the near term, there is no doubt in my mind that investments into seniors housing will see greater stability and growth than the majority real estate asset classes.

Grosvenor Fund Names New CIO

Grosvenor Fund Management promoted Charles “Chip” Walters to CIO in the firm’s Philadelphia office. Previously, he served as managing director and head of fund portfolio management.

Before joining Grosvenor in April of 2012, Walters served as principal, head of the Northeast acquisitions for Prudential Real Estate Investors.

Levin Picks CFO

Levin Management named Timothy G. DeCola vice president and CFO. He replaces Harold Harris, who has retired.

DeCola joins Levin from Pettinaro Construction Co. of Newport, Del., where he similarly served as CFO. He will be responsible for all aspects of corporate finance and risk management at Levin for company-owned and managed properties as well as for real estate tax and financing reviews.

Hilco Names New President for SD Retail

The Hilco Organization appointed Antony Karabus president of the company’s SD Retail Consulting practice.

Karabus brings more than 25 years of experience to SD Retail Consulting. He founded Karabus Management in 1990 and grew the business to more than 50 senior retail professionals and more than 100 retail client engagements. He has advised numerous leading retailers in the department store, convenience, specialty, supermarket and big box sectors.

Greg Rubin, previously CEO of SD Retail, has been appointed chairman of SD Retail Consulting. Initially, SD Retail Consulting will focus on retail clients operating primarily in the U.S. and European markets. Over time, SD Retail Consulting expects to leverage the global reach of Hilco to expand its focus to other markets.

Stonegate Welcomes EVP

Stonegate Mortgage Corp. hired Eric Scholtz as executive vice president of structured finance.

Prior to joining Stonegate, Scholtz served in a number of senior executive positions at GMAC RFC for more than 15 years, most recently as executive vice president of capital markets and senior vice president, head of trading, where he was responsible for the acquisition and ultimate sale/securitization of $150 billion annual volume in agency and non-agency mortgage loans.

Lynn Joins Cole

Cole Real Estate Investments brought on David Lynn to the firm as executive vice president and chief investment strategist.

Lynn will lead Cole’s investment strategy and research group and underwriting team in New York and will be primarily responsible for portfolio investment and management strategies, capital market analysis and economic research. He will also serve on Cole’s executive committee, which drives the strategic direction of the firm, and the investment committee, which drives real estate investment decisions.

Prior to joining Cole, Lynn served as global head of investment strategy and research at Clarion Partners (previously ING Clarion Partners), where he directed their investment decisions across multi-billion core and value-add real estate investments. He was a member of their investment and operating committee.

Rivers Named SVP at Lowe Enterprises

Mark S. Rivers was named senior vice president and managing director of Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group’s Washington, D.C. Metro operations.

Rivers joined Lowe Enterprises in 2004. He oversaw the $150 million restoration of the historic Washington Hilton Hotel as well as the development of the award-winning $245 million CityVista project in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Gebroe-Hammer Associates Promotes Pros

Gebroe-Hammer Associates named Steven Follman and Stephen Tragash to vice president while Debbie Pomerantz has been promoted to assistant vice president.

Follman has been with Gebroe-Hammer for nine years, playing a key role in expanding the firm’s New Jersey activities in the state’s Ocean and Monmouth County submarkets. Since joining Gebroe-Hammer in 2008, Tragash has orchestrated $100+ million in sales involving more than 1,000 apartment-rental and retail units. Pomerantz has closed sales involving more than 412 units netting more than $31 million.

Greysteel Creates Exchange Services Division

The Greysteel Co. launched its exchange services division and named Gerald “Jerry” Burg to lead the division.

As director of exchange services, Burg will lead a dedicated practice working with Greysteel’s clients and transaction teams on real estate investment planning and wealth preservation through the development and implementation of tax deferred strategies.

Prior to joining Greysteel, Burg was managing director and senior vice president at Northmarq Investment Services and Calkain Cos.

Calif. Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance Opens New Office

Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance launched a new Orange County, Calif. brokerage and advisory services operation.

It will be led by Michael Dorsey, who has more than 30 years of commercial real estate and brokerage experience. Most recently, he served as senior vice president with Voit Real Estate Services in its Irvine office.

Bolt Joins Lee in Calif.

Lee & Associates hired David Bolt as its newest senior vice president/principal in the Newport Beach, Calif. office.

Bolt will specialize in the lease and sale of industrial, R&WD and office properties. Bolt has representing institutional ownerships, private client ownerships, developers, REITs and occupiers of real estate. He primarily concentrates his efforts in the South Orange County/John Wayne Airport (Irvine Business Complex) areas and has completed lease and sale transactions in excess of $1 billion over the last 20 years.

CT Welcomes Research Pro

Cassidy Turley brought on Arty Maharajh to the firm’s Los Angeles office as vice president, research.

He will maintain data and analytics and produce quarterly market and submarket reports covering all service lines in the Los Angeles area. Additionally, he will lead research projects on behalf of clients, providing insight on demographic, economic, labor force and real estate market trends.

Maharajh joins the firm from Transwestern, where he led Southern California research efforts, and previously served in research capacities at CBRE Group Inc., where he managed the firm’s Inland Empire research team.

Colliers Hires Florida Portfolio Manager

Rick Wall joined the Colliers International South Florida team. As portfolio manager Wall will lead Colliers South Florida Real Estate Management Services and oversees the firm's portfolio of office, medical office, industrial and retail properties. He comes to Colliers from Cushman & Wakefield Inc., where he was a portfolio manager.

URDANG Welcomes New Head of Private Real Estate

URDANG, the real estate manager for BNY Mellon, named P.J. Yeatman to the new position of head of private real estate.

He will be responsible for setting strategy and leading the future growth of the private real estate business. He is also taking on private real estate responsibilities formerly held by Richard Ferst, who had been URDANG chairman. Ferst, who had been with URDANG since 1998, retired in December.

Yeatman most recently founded CoveredBridge Ventures, a Philadelphia-based real estate investment and advisory firm. Previously, he had been the senior managing principal at the Lubert-Adler Real Estate Funds. During his 11-year tenure, he participated in the raising of $6 billion of equity and was responsible for investing in excess of $650 million of equity.

Cassidy Turley Picks Managing Principal in DC

Cassidy Turley named John Benziger regional managing principal in the Washington, D.C. Metro region, where he will lead more than 400 professionals.

The new appointment marks a return to Cassidy Turley for Benziger. From 1984 to 2002, he served as a top broker with Cassidy & Pinkard, a Cassidy Turley predecessor firm. Benziger assumes the role formerly held by Joseph Stettinius, who was named Cassidy Turley CEO in October 2012.

Benziger joins Cassidy Turley from Lincoln Property Co., where he was senior vice president and managed Lincoln’s Washington, D.C. leasing efforts, representing tenants, local developers and institutional owners in the leasing, purchase, marketing and sale of commercial property throughout the region.

Pro Forms Lending Company

Brian Good, president and founder of Eagle Group LLC, has formed Eagle Group Finance, a direct hard money lender that specializes in short-and long-term financing secured by commercial real estate assets located in California, Nevada and Arizona.

The Eagle Group unit also will serve as a platform for the company to acquire performing and non-performing loans, loan portfolios and servicing companies in the Western United States. The company is also actively negotiating with lenders to service their loan portfolios and/or acquire loan pools.

Prior to founding Eagle Group LLC in 2000, Good was a real estate transactional attorney with Troy & Gould as well as Kulik, Gottesman & Mouton, where he represented real estate investment trusts, publicly traded real estate companies, and high net worth individuals.

Senior Managing Director in Consulting Joins NKFD

Newmark Knight Frank Devencore and its international partner Newmark Grubb Knight Frank welcomed Gregg Wassmansdorf to the global corporate services team as senior managing director, consulting.

He specializes in real estate and location strategy, economic incentives, and delivering both advisory and transactional real estate services to large companies.

Wassmansdorf comes to Newmark Knight Frank Devencore from Colliers International, where he founded the location advisory and incentives practice. There he led site selection, incentives procurement, consolidation, and strategic planning assignments for clients in the U.S., Canada and abroad.

IPA Hires Pro to lead N.Y. Office

Institutional Property Advisors added Peter Von Der Ahe and his team of six professionals to its roster of senior advisors.

Von Der Ahe will be a senior director for IPA and will lead the IPA New York team. He has been a leading broker of major New York metro apartments for 12 years, completing the sale of more than $730 million since the start of his career.

Von Der Ahe joined Marcus & Millichap in 2002 and was named first vice president investments in January 2012. He is the director of the firm’s national multi-housing group and special assets services. IPA was formed two years ago as a special division of Marcus & Millichap dedicated to serving the needs of institutional and major private investors.

RECAP Names New Managing Director

Real Estate Capital Partners (RECAP) of New York City hired Thomas Etzel as managing director and head of strategy and business development.

Etzel will split his time between New York and Germany, leading the firm’s expansion into European real estate investments. Before coming to RECAP, he most recently served as managing director of BHF/BANK and head of alternative investments.

In a related move, RECAP has promoted two of its longtime executives to join the management committee with Etzel. Paul Doocy has been promoted from executive vice president to CIO. Andre Kinney has been promoted to COO, while retaining his previous role as head of asset management.

JLL Brings on New Managing Director for D.C.

Jones Lang LaSalle welcomed Bill Prutting, who will serve as a managing director in Washington, D.C.

There, he will focus on office investment sales and work with the firm’s real estate investment banking, multifamily and international capital experts. Prutting is a 24-year veteran of the metropolitan Washington, D.C. commercial real estate industry and has led a number of the region’s capital markets assignments, most recently the $700 million sale of CityCenterDC.

Prutting joins JLL from a competitive global brokerage firm where he held a leadership position in the office capital markets practice in Washington, D.C.

Encore Welcomes Zisler Team

Encore Enterprises Inc. brought on the principals of Zisler Capital Associates LLC to the Dallas-based firm.

Randall Zisler joins as a senior managing director and Matthew Zisler joins as a managing director. They will direct the firm’s global institutional capital placement activities from the firm’s Denver office.

Zisler Capital Associates was an institutional capital raising and financial strategy consulting firm with deep expertise in private and public real estate debt and equity. In their new roles, Zisler and Zisler will raise joint venture equity, separate accounts, and structured finance to grow the firm’s portfolio of hospitality, office, multifamily and retail properties.

CBRE Welcomes Pros in Chicago and Atlanta

CBRE Group Inc. welcomed William Wright to the firm as managing director in Oakbrook, Ill. with business-line responsibilities for the company’s retail practice and land group.

As managing director, Wright will oversee both the 29 retail brokers located in Chicago as well as the firm’s regional retail investment practice. Wright began his real estate career at CBRE in August of 1998 as a research analyst in the information services group. He worked within CBRE for several years, as well as with other companies. In October of 2010, he was recruited by Mid-America Real Estate Corp. to lead and grow its net lease investment sales practice throughout the Midwest.

CBRE also hired Jim Maher as managing director in the asset services group. Maher will oversee CBRE’s management of a 10 million-sq.-ft. office, retail and industrial portfolio for DRA Advisors LLC. Based in Atlanta, he will also collaborate with CBRE’s business development leaders on large multi-regional pursuits.

Maher joins CBRE with 27 year of commercial real estate experience, most recently as executive vice president at Colonial Property Trust in Atlanta, where he directed that company’s commercial real estate and joint venture efforts. In that role he was responsible for property management, leasing, acquisitions and dispositions for a 16-million-sq.-ft. portfolio.

Heitman Hires New Pro for Hong Kong

Heitman LLC welcomed Karena Fung to the firm as senior equity analyst supporting Heitman's Asia-Pacific public real estate securities group.

Fung will focus her activities on fundamental company and market analysis on behalf of the portfolio management team and will work out of Heitman’s Hong Kong office.

Prior to joining Heitman, Karena was a senior analyst and portfolio manager on the global real estate securities team at UBS Global Asset Management for six years, primarily focusing on the Asia Pacific region.

Grandbridge Promotes Dupree

Grandbridge Real Estate Capital promoted Ben Dupree to commercial mortgage loan officer.

Dupree most recently spent several years as a senior portfolio manager with Grandbridge’s asset management team where he was responsible for asset management and investor reporting for the firm’s Freddie Mac multifamily and seniors housing portfolio and Fannie Mae seniors housing portfolio.

Webster Bank Inks Agreement with JLL

Webster Bank extended its existing contract for core transaction processing services and expanded its information technology partnership with Fidelity Information Services to include additional products and services. That includes the management of Webster’s IT network, telecommunications, servers, and data storage infrastructure for the next eight years.

Separately, Webster also has entered into a new five-year agreement with Jones Lang LaSalle or the management of Webster’s 168 owned and leased branches as well as its seven regional hubs and other corporate facilities.

Two C&W Brokers Named to Real Estate Association Group

Cushman & Wakefield announced that two of its brokerage professionals—Alisa Amsterdam and Kelli Mekles—were elected as 2013 Governors of the Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association.

Amsterdam is an associate director specializing in retail brokerage on behalf of tenants and landlords in Manhattan and has been with C&W since 2003. Mekles, with the firm since 2011, is a senior associate at Cushman & Wakefield specializing in office brokerage and specializes in landlord representation.

ICSC Welcomes Two Education Pros

The ICSC welcomed Eric Hertz as staff vice president, director of education.

Hertz will oversee all existing ICSC education programs throughout the world and take on new opportunities to expand educational services to new constituencies such as asset management executives and senior retailing executives. Hertz was previously the CEO of his own consultancy, the center for executive development based in New York. Prior to that, he was director of executive education for the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The ICSC brought on Sandhya Espitia as director, new business development, global education programs. She will work closely with Hertz and members of the education team to reach new global markets and continue delivering educational programs for ICSC members. Espitia was previously senior program development officer for LASPAU - Academic and Professional Programs for the Americas, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Harvard University.