TBD Dream Teamer Margaret Whelan Honored As Deal-Maker

Whelan specializes in bridging building and real estate's time-tested M&A motivators with data and tech's exponential impact on consumers, capital, and other stakeholders.

John McManus June 21st, 2021

If you're in residential real estate investment, development, and construction, or up very close to it, the business sector's changes feel like the grind of tectonic plates shifting infinitesimally, almost unnoticeable to the naked eye.

Deal flow in this glacial environment orbited around finite seller-buyer motivations within a broadly definable compass set by housing economics' rhyme-scheme of boom and bust cycles.

Sellers have been apt to sell for a few reasons:

  • Age demographics of principal owners seeking succession or exit
  • Land and capital-constrained local or regional player seeking capital infusion
  • Cyclical capital risk exposure signaling time to take chips off the table
  • Rarely, pure strategic and cultural chemistry with merger partner

Buyers, in their turn, have as few primary motivators, although the lines between strategic and financial buyers have blurred somewhat due to global variances in the cost of capital and the pace of new residential construction.

  • New market expansion, reflecting sustainable, incremental order volume growth via securing owned-and-controlled developed and vacant lot pipelines
  • Depth of local scale, reflecting benefits gained by leveraging metro market share into greater operational efficiency and community management, stronger clout with land developers and seller, better visibility and pricing with local construction trades
  • Expanded access to customer segment – i.e. entry-level, first-time buyer – via an operational model that has proven to serve that segment well in competitive markets.
  • Cost of debt imbalances that can favor foreign investment in U.S. operations, such as several Japan-based companies – Sekisui House, Daiwa House, Sumitomo Forestry, etc. – as well as China and Canada-HQ'd enterprises.

These eight motivators – four for sellers and four for buyers – underpin most of the mergers and acquisitions, capitalization, and combinations over the past decade or longer, giving the deal-flow landscape its glacially-moving vibe.

Taking shape all the while are three forces whose impact on deal-making have only lately begun to be appreciated, and whose ability to reshape the residential investment, development, and construction landscape can be counted on as huge, fast, and forever.

  • Technology- and data-enabled consumer households changing the nature of housing type and ownership vs. rent preferences
  • Building information management, and the power of digital design and construction twins to alter the end-to-end construction value chain
  • Stakeholder capitalism and its force of impact on institutional investment and the creation of regenerative equity that is more diverse, inclusive, and environmentally balanced.

In this emerging deal-making and deal-motivating scenario, mergers and acquisition pros – like the rest of us mortals – need upskilling in technology, data and their deceptively-complex relationship to older school currencies like land, capital, talent, and construction capability.

So, it's especially heartening, as an observer, that an organization whose mission is to celebrate the evolving proficiencies of deal-makers in an ever more complex capital investment environment, would salute one of our own Dream Team members, Margaret Whelan, CEO of Whelan Advisory, for stand-out achievement.

The Global M&A Network counts Margaret as one of its Top U.S.A. Women Dealmaker winners for 2021, one of 23 respected, prominent and brilliant women dealmakers from the investing – PE and VC, lending, restructuring, and M&A advisory communities.

Importantly, Margaret's focus has been on what will make enterprises and their stakeholders in real estate and construction successful in the future, more than on what has brought success in the past. Business mentors, for instance,

Outperformed their peers through thoughtful engagement, attention to detail, and patience

Few capital and M&A advisors bridge homebuilding and residential development's traditional, operational motivators for combination with the oncoming transformational impacts of data and technology as Margaret does. And, when it comes to stakeholder capitalism's pillars, Margaret's view is of how to win in an evolving, complicated world where everybody – investor, vendor, team member, partner, municipal official, and local activist – is a customer. She says:

Diversity of thought drives out of the box thinking and above average returns. Clients choose me to represent them because I bring a fresh perspective, I patiently invest a lot of time into investment positioning, to anticipate what investors will prioritize and value.

Join the conversation


John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.


Doldrums Unsettle Builders As Sales Slow, Cancels Creep Up

A spreading belief among homebuyer prospects is that new home prices must and will come down from where they are and – in light of the growing use of concessions and incentives – that they've already started on their way down.

Banks Tighten Screws On Builder Loans As Feds Clamp Down

The glimmer of hope homebuilders – specifically, privately-held firms whose capital lines for acquisition, development, construction, and operations tend to come from regional and community banks – got from the recent Fed's Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS) may be short-lived.

A Start-Up With A Model Built To Scale Up In Scattered Infill Sites

A competitive advantage for a new homebuilding firm in a hotbed of market share-thirsty rivals in North and Central Florida can come only one way – and it's not by outspending them in any part of the end-to-end building lifecycle – the hard way.