Terise E. Paulsen
The powerhouse behind The Paulsen Group, LLC, Terise Paulsen pioneered the niche of affordable housing real estate recruitment long before it became a trendy sector and has led the industry—and her clients—through its evolution every step of the way. Over three decades, Terise has successfully completed over 800 searches, placing qualified candidates in various roles for their clients across the nation. These clients include syndicators, developers, NPOs, housing authorities, contractors, pension funds, and property management companies, among others, and many of the placements have gone on to become C-level executives.
“It is rare to be able to work in an industry you are passionate about and have the opportunity to change peoples’ lives. We are all so grateful for this opportunity and continue to pay it forward by remaining engaged, continually building relationships, and collaborating with the next generation of leaders,” Terise exclaims.
Rewind. The year is 1984. Ronald Reagan is president, the Boston Celtics have won the NBA Championship, the average cost of a home is $80,000, and Terise Paulsen has just launched a new career in executive recruitment. The transition would prove to be especially insightful for several reasons, not the least of which is a booming housing market. Terise was already a successful and savvy businesswoman, having managed a telemarketing company and owned an accounting service, which specialized in real estate. It was, therefore, a clever strategy to focus on executive recruitment within the same arena.
Terise fully immersed herself in the fledgling business, building her client roster one phone call at a time, initially using phone books to generate leads. This was a time without mobile devices, internet, or even fax machines, so her only resources were perseverance, intelligence, and motivation. In a short amount of time, Terise had developed relationships with over 20 loyal clients and continued to gain momentum over the next four years. In 1988, she founded The Paulsen Group LLC and, at the same time discovered an unmet need, and a promising niche, within the industry—affordable housing.
At the time, the majority of real estate recruiters were focused on the office, retail, single family and market rate clients. Terise recognized a critical sector of the real estate market that needed attention. She notes, “The affordable housing market appealed to me greatly because it presented new challenges and addressed issues that were important—low income housing, housing for vets, the homeless, the elderly, and the blue-collar workforce. I knew that it would be hard work, but it would also be rewarding.” Terise also knew that to bring affordable housing to the market, there would be an upsurge in the need for specialized talent in development, asset management, underwriting, finance, as well as consultants, and other real estate executives, which inevitably led to her increased value as a recruiter.
Thirty years later, Terise remains a formidable presence in the field, fully entrenched in the business of recruiting and placing a high priority on bringing value to her clients as well as the community. “I’m often told by my clients and candidates that they’ve never encountered a ‘headhunter’ like me and that’s because I know my industry and I actually care about people. I fully embrace and respect the fiduciary responsibility I have to shape careers and cultivate effective teams,” Terise asserts.
To that end, Terise is especially mindful of the need for her company to evolve and grow along with changes in the marketplace, as well as the latest job requirements and hiring processes. She expounds, “We must adapt to the changing landscape of affordable housing. This is more than just staying abreast of market trends. It means we have to remain strategic, versus reactive. We are working with all generations, from Boomers to Gen Z, sharing information and building upon the past, while preparing for the future. We are infusing the traditional, personalized client care standards of the Baby Boomers with the technology of Gen Y and Z, combining conventional work ethics with relationship building. I believe that this could very possibly lead to a new generation of skilled problem solvers and exceptional producers.”
To forward her mission, Terise not only finds candidates with affordable housing experience, but recruits from other real estate sectors as well. With the importance of affordable housing growing, she is finding more people who share her ideals and interest in making a difference and aspiring candidates who are seeking to pursue this personally and financially gratifying vocation. Terise adds, “It’s important to mention that my business has exceeded my five- and ten-year averages in 2020. The affordable housing industry is not recession proof, but it is certainly recession resistant. In addition to the unpredictable stability of our economy, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges, so we are seeing eligibility requirements change and need grow. Affordable housing is not just a program for low-income individuals anymore.”
With her knowledge of the industry and forward thinking, Terise has made a quantifiable impact on affordable housing, while steering her company toward a place among the top recruiting firms. Although she has been chronicled in Cosmo magazine, participated on numerous panels, and appeared on television and radio broadcasts, she remains a humble practitioner whose motivation is wholly humanitarian.
Terise E. Paulsen
The Paulsen Group LLC