Stout Managing Director John VanSanten discusses his expertise in the real estate and healthcare sectors as well as his testimony experience.

January 24, 2019

John VanSanten is a well-known figure when it comes to real estate valuation, specifically valuation-related disputes. With expertise on all types of properties, John has provided testimony in more than a dozen states on a variety of matters related to bankruptcy, property taxes, estate planning, and much more. We sat down with John to talk about his career accomplishments and his unique knowledge of the healthcare real estate sector.

John VanSanten Quick Facts 

Role at Stout

 

Co-leads the firm’s Real Estate practice

Education

 

M.B.A., Real Estate Finance, DePaul University
B.A., Economics & Business, Augustana College

Areas of Expertise

 

Real Estate Valuation Disputes
Healthcare Real Estate

Venues Testified In

 

U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, other federal courts, State of Delaware, Court of Chancery, numerous state courts, other private arbitration

Notable Cases 

 

In re Kimball Hill, Inc. et al., Debtors, United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
York Pennsylvania Hospital Company LLC, v. York County Board of Assessment Appeals et al., Court of Common Pleas of York County, Pennsylvania
Patricia Fox (Class Action) v. Riverview Realty Partners (f/k/a Prime Group Realty Trust) et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

What types of clients do you work with?

I have a diverse client base, but it’s primarily divided into two areas. First, I do a lot of work with attorneys, including litigation, bankruptcy, property tax, real estate, estate planning, and corporate attorneys. Second, I have a particular specialty in healthcare real estate – so many of my clients are healthcare providers and institutional investors, such as real estate investment trusts (REITs).

What property types have you valued?

I have a wide range of experience with a variety of property types, including office, industrial, retail, hospitality, multi-family apartments, subdivisions, and many special-purpose properties. In particular, I have significant experience valuing healthcare properties, including hospitals, nursing homes, surgery centers, senior living facilities, and medical offices.

What types of litigation matters do you spend most of your time with?

I spend most of my time on disputes involving real estate valuation. These include property tax, bankruptcy, construction defects, environmental contamination, shareholder disputes, tax controversy, and condemnation.

What makes you particularly qualified as an expert in real estate valuation dispute cases?

I have been practicing in the real estate valuation field for over 27 years and have performed thousands of assignments. While a significant portion of my time is spent on litigation matters, I typically spend half my time on valuation assignments that are not related to litigation. This allows me to stay up to speed on the “real world” of the real estate industry – as opposed to an expert who is 100% focused on litigation and may be out of touch.

What was one of your more notable cases and why?

I provided expert testimony at trial in a bankruptcy case involving a national homebuilder that filed for Chapter 11 in 2008. A third-party investor (our client) purchased five partially complete residential subdivisions out of bankruptcy but was then sued in State Court by the surety/bonding company that had issued performance bonds for each of the subdivisions. These state lawsuits effectively forced our client into a six-year delay in developing and/or selling these properties. The Bankruptcy Court ruled that the surety company was in violation of the “plan” and our client was entitled to damages. Based on the expert report that we prepared, I testified in court that our client suffered a $7.7 million diminution in value due to this forced delay of six years. The Bankruptcy Court ruled in our client’s favor, and awarded $9.5 million in damages, including the full $7.7 million in property value that I testified to in court.

What led you to focus your career in real estate?

My initial interest was sparked by investing in small apartment buildings with my family. I subsequently pursued my MBA in real estate finance and started my career in real estate valuation.

You have specific expertise as it relates to healthcare properties. Why did you decide to focus on this area? How is healthcare property different from other properties?

Healthcare is a very significant part of our lives and our national economy. It is quite unique from other types of real estate due to the heavy government regulation that influences this sector. In addition, the demand drivers for healthcare real estate are often very different from more traditional properties. I find the healthcare sector fascinating. It is really an area that you have to commit to in a meaningful way. Those who just dabble in this space are likely not qualified.

What advice do you have for people looking to following a similar career path?

Follow your passion and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Expert testimony is challenging and can often be stressful, but the satisfaction that comes from working through a big case, doing a great job for the attorneys and client, and getting a successful outcome – makes it all worth it.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned in your career?

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Nothing ventured – nothing gained. The other thing is the importance of persistence. You never really fail until you stop trying.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

I really enjoy working with attorneys and clients on difficult matters, and helping them find solutions. I also really enjoy mentoring young professionals who are working their way up through the ranks. Everyone has had the benefit of a mentor(s) who helped them along the way, and I endeavor to give back as much as possible – pay it forward.

What interests do you have outside of work?

Anything involving the outdoors: fishing, hunting, cycling, skiing.