Course Schedule

September Start | January Start | Course Descriptions

September Start

Students starting the MBA in September generally take their first real estate course, Real Estate Finance, in their second semester. Students wishing to obtain a real estate internship between first and second year benefit from having Real Estate Finance under their belt before beginning the summer work term.

In the second-year fall semester, students can take Real Estate Capital Markets and/or Real Estate Transactions, among other options. In the spring semester, students can choose from a number of real estate electives as well.

Year

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

Summer

First

MBA Core courses

MBA Core courses plus elective(s):
Real Estate Finance*
Real Estate Development

Internship

Second

3 courses plus electives:
Real Estate Equity Securities Analysis
Real Estate Debt Markets
Real Estate Transactions
Real Estate Project Class
Social Impact Real Estate Investing and Development
Real Estate Entrepreneurship

2-3 courses plus electives:
Advanced Real Estate Seminar
Real Estate M&A Workshop
Real Estate Development
Global Real Estate Investment
Real Estate Portfolio Management
EMBA Block Week Course: Real Estate as an Asset and a Business 

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January Start

Students starting the MBA in January may take Real Estate Finance and Real Estate Fundamentals during the summer term.

In the second-year fall semester, students can take Real Estate Capital Markets and/or Real Estate Transactions, among other options. In the spring semester, students can choose from a number of real estate electives as well.

Year

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

Summer

First

MBA Core courses

MBA Core courses plus electives:
Real Estate Finance*
Real Estate Fundamentals

Second

2 courses plus electives:
Real Estate Equity Securities Analysis
Real Estate Debt Markets
Real Estate Transactions
Real Estate Project Class
Social Impact Real Estate Investing and Development
Real Estate Entrepreneurship

2-3 courses plus electives:
Advanced Seminar in Real Estate
Real Estate M&A Workshop
Real Estate Development
Global Real Estate Investment
Real Estate Portfolio Management
EMBA Block Week Course: Real Estate as an Asset and a Business 

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Course Descriptions

Please see the course catalog to for details about schedules, credits, and professors. Refer to the Real Estate Career Course Map for assistance in selecting related electives outside the real estate courses.

Real Estate Finance* Real estate accounts for one-third of the world’s capital assets.  This course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of real estate valuation, cycles, markets, investments, and decision-making. The bulk of the course covers income-producing (commercial) property, although we will discuss residential housing.  This course provides a unified finance-based framework to answer real estate investment decision-making problems encountered in the real world.  Doing so requires a good understanding of the institutional features that differentiate real estate from other asset classes and markets as well as modern finance and economics tools.

A blend of finance theory as applicable to real estate and practical skills of project analyses, Real Estate Finance is essential for all students who wish to take further coursework in real estate. 3 credits. The division will offer students the option to take an exemption exam.

Real Estate Transactions Real estate is a transaction business, and a thorough understanding of legal structure and transaction documentation is essential to successfully execution of all types of business strategies in real estate: Ask any seasoned investor!   Decisions about the most effective format for owning real estate, layering debt, and structuring equity investments all involve legal considerations that shape the risk and return profile of real estate investments as well as control and decision making.

Our goal in the course is to provide you with an understanding of the institutional framework of commercial real estate transactions: business law, taxation, investment partnerships, and deal structures. It is the essential complement to the analytics of finance and investment. Real estate transactions draw upon a vast array of laws and regulations – property law, contract law, land-use law, environment law, securities law, constitutional law, corporate law, bankruptcy law, insurance law, and riparian law.  Tax considerations similarly play a significant role in driving deal structure as real estate is highly sensitive to taxation at all levels of government and across all stages of property ownership.  And investment structures shape who bears what type of risk.

How and why do transactions come out the way they do? This is the practical question underlying the structure of this course.  You should finish the course knowing how the terms and conditions spelled out in a term sheet find their way into particular sections and provisions of a transaction’s legal documentation.  To succeed in this business, you will need to be savvy consumers of legal expertise, notwithstanding the knowledge and expertise of your attorney. 

The course is designed to address a broad range of considerations that arise as a real estate transaction moves from term sheet to legal documentation.  3 credits.

Real Estate Equity Securities Analysis : REITs have existed as a legal form for over 55 years, but the modern REIT era can be traced to the early 1990’s. Since that time, the sector has grown from approximately $5.0 billion in assets to over $1.0 trillion. Perhaps more importantly, some argue that given the migration of assets and talent into the public markets these companies have become the primary value creation vehicles and operating platforms in the property sector. By some estimates REITs today comprise 15.0 - 20.0% of the investible commercial real estate market. The net result has been irrevocable structural change and increased industry stability. For our purposes however, the REIT sector has evolved into a very viable and credible investment class; the group now comprises a significant weighting of the major stock indices and has its own industry classification.

Real Estate Equity Securities Analysis will serve as a substantive introduction to the REIT and real estate securities sectors, conceptually, and as an investment.  The course will provide the requisite analytical tools to value real estate stocks; we will utilize conventional securities analysis tools, on an applied basis. The ultimate goal however, is to look at real estate securities investing holistically. As such, the course will incorporate qualitative, strategic and technical considerations into the quantitative valuation analyses – the intent is to reach more rigorous and successful investment conclusions.  We will utilize case studies and include senior guest speakers from issuing REITs as well as securities analysts and portfolio managers from the buyside and the sellside.  Real Estate Equity Securities Analysis will provide the actionable skills and broad analytical insight to participate successfully in a sector that has emerged as one of the most important drivers of the real estate industry globally1.5 credits. 

Real Estate Debt Markets:  The development of commercial real estate debt markets has revolutionized the commercial real estate industry providing unprecedented capital availability and pricing, reshaping valuation metrics, heavily influencing private capital formation and providing real estate and security investors with a greater array of investment, hedging and arbitrage opportunities.  As the past several years have demonstrated, the integration of public debt markets also creates volatility that can be driven by factors well outside the realm of commercial properties. Indeed the flow of debt capital can often have a greater impact on property values than the trends underlying property market fundamentals.  Why asks an owner, did Russia’s debt default prevent me from refinancing my Kansas City shopping mall?  How did money market funds almost “breaking the buck” contribute to the collapse of commercial real estate property prices in 2008?  

Today’s professional real estate investor must have an investment view and strategy which are informed by and integrated with the opportunities and risks inherent not just in the property markets but in today’s capital markets as well.  In 2007 many thought balanced supply and demand fundamentals might cushion commercial real estate from the free fall in the oversupplied residential markets. Yet a thoughtful understanding of the complex connection between the two via the bond markets would have quickly apprised them otherwise. Understanding the real estate debt capital markets is essential for every commercial real estate borrower, lender or investor.  1.5 credits. 

Real Estate M&A Workshop: High‐stakes real estate M&A transactions require consummate deal‐making skills and a thorough understanding of the underlying business, legal, financial and strategic frameworks.  This Workshop will explore the relevant skill‐sets and underlying frameworks through a combination of class discussions and hands‐on exercises. The REIT and commercial real estate sectors have emerged from the financial crisis, poised for a new phase of consolidation and M&A.  In addition, on a technical note, the last decade saw significant legislative improvement in the tax scheme that governs REITS, which has provided REITs with greater operating and transaction flexibility, and recent legislative changes improve upon the ability of foreign persons investing in publicly traded REITs.  We have seen a number of going private transactions in the REIT industry over the past year and more are expected in the near term given that the trading value of public REITs is generally below NAV and there are significant amounts of private capital, including from foreign investors, interested in investing in U.S. real estate.  These waves of transactional activity provide an ideal case study approach for learning the strategy and tactics involved in sophisticated real estate deal making, as well as the underlying legal and business building blocks. The class will take a multi‐disciplinary approach, based on the premise that an effective transactional lawyer must understand the business and financial goals and implications of the deal and, similarly, that an effective business or finance executive must have a solid grasp of the legal, tax, and structural underpinnings for the transaction.  1.5 credits.

Global Real Estate Investment: Cross border investment, once considered exotic, has become increasingly common, despite economic cycles. However, it requires another dimension of risk analysis and execution skill. This half-term course will introduce students to the fundamentals of global real estate investment from an institutional perspective through an exploration of risk analysis and specific strategies for structuring global real estate investments and portfolios. It will provide students with an analytical framework and the tools to analyze and value cross-border real estate investments in developed and emerging markets. It will also provide a perspective on the effects of globalization on property and capital markets.  1.5 credits.

Advanced Real Estate Seminar: This case-based course addresses and, where possible, simulates complex problem solving applied to real estate. The emphasis is on strategic decision making and the types of issues that principals and investors face in acquiring, financing, owning, managing, developing, and restructuring real estate. Using cutting-edge case materials developed for the Columbia MBA Real Estate Program, the course focuses on analyzing complex problems and developing a recommended course of action based on in-depth analysis, both quantitative and qualitative. The course aims to develop your understanding of and appreciation for the multiple dimensions – economic, financial, and institutional – that shape the decision-making environment for real estate investment. Drawing upon the participation of case principals in the classroom, the course also addresses the issues and tactics of how the various industry actors – public companies, private equity funds, and individuals – execute their strategies, including dynamics that constrain actors and organizations in the real estate business. The course is designed to challenge students with complex situations so that they can not only hone their analytical skills, but also develop effective means of communicating their analytical insights and conclusions to different audiences: investors, lenders, clients, and joint-venture partners. 3 credits.

NYC Immersion Seminar: Real Estate Development This immersion course is designed to introduce students to the business of real estate development. Through a “tour” of different types of ground-up projects (rental housing, mixed-use development, and public-private development) in different locations (Long Island City, Brooklyn, Manhattan) under different business arrangements (family business, young entrepreneur, corporate, and joint-venture partnership), the course will deliver a broad-based overview of the development business. Given the block of time in each session, we will be able to delve into many of the granular aspects of development that make this field of endeavor so demanding and so dynamic.  At every level—physical site, program and design, financial feasibility, construction, tenant marketability, project management—real estate development is a detailed business. It is also singular in its impact on the built environment. Two of the projects we will visit are designed to shape a new district, a “place” in the argot of planning and urban design. From this perspective, the aspirations of developers extend beyond the monetary, especially when it comes to large-scale development, and therein lies the excitement—and also the creative drive and boldness to take on the significant risks of big complex projects. 1.5 credits.

Real Estate Project Class: The Real Estate Project Class provides students who intend on pursuing careers in real estate the opportunity to learn how to design and execute projects of professional scope and quality under the guidance of an experienced professor and practitioner, as well as a specific company sponsor.  The course will include instruction in project design, scoping, strategy, research, and execution.  Presentation skills, both oral and written, are integral to the course and project.  Two (occasionally, one) student groups, each group consisting of three or four students, will work with an outside project sponsor to create a project presentation based on a real-world sponsor project.  3 credits. More . . .

Social Impact Real Estate Investing and Development This course will explore what comprises, and how to develop and invest in “social impact” real estate projects.  How do we define what constitutes “social impact” with respect to real estate projects? What are the financial building blocks and sources of capital available for developers and investors to utilize when putting together deals?    Using examples of real deals, and focusing largely on U.S. urban markets, students will work through the challenges and opportunities of financing various types of projects, including: affordable and mixed-income housing, mixed-use, neighborhood retail, community facilities.  Students will be exposed to a variety of financial tools (LIHTCs, tax-exempt bonds, NMTCs, etc.) and public sector programs that are necessary to make social impact projects feasible while also being asked to gauge whether the risk-adjusted returns warrant “doing the deal”.

In addition, the course will explore the following questions: who are the players in the “social impact” real estate space?  Who are the capital providers in both the public and private sectors?  Who are the developers?  Can you make money being a socially responsible developer?   What role do non-profits play? Speakers will include: for-profit and non-profit developers, fund managers, government officials and financial institutions.  3 credits.

Real Estate Portfolio Management: This six-week course (offered A term in the spring) provides students with an introduction to the challenges and decisions faced by real estate portfolio managers. The focus is “macro” aspects of portfolio management, such as strategy and diversification, rather than buy or hold/sell decisions and business plans for individual assets. Examples include: key decision that affect performance; assessing alpha opportunities; evaluating risk-return tradeoffs. After completing this course students will be familiar with issues that arise in constructing and managing a real estate portfolio, including elements of portfolio strategy, managing diversification and liquidity and measuring performance and risk.  1.5 credits.

Real Estate Entrepreneurship:  Real estate has historically been an entrepreneurial industry. Great fortunes and enterprises have been created by entrepreneurs who started as contractors, agents, investors, and other service providers in real estate and related businesses. Others have built investment management businesses from scratch, often starting from small purchases and growing into multi-billion dollar funds. The industry has changed over the years; it has become more institutionalized and the public debt and equity markets play a larger role and have increased transparency. At the same time, real estate technology companies have started to threaten traditional business models in real estate services (brokerage and modeling), capital markets (crowdfunding and financing), and, of course, ownership and leasing (AirBNB and WeWork).

Although the property industry remains a marketplace where talented entrepreneurs can still build great businesses and fortunes, nevertheless, relatively few succeed. What is the difference between success and failure? What resources, personal characteristics, and business strategies improve the odds of success for the entrepreneur in the world of real estate? To avail themselves of the ever-widening opportunities, today real estate entrepreneurs must frequently go beyond a transactional framework to build companies or investment platforms. 

The purpose of this course is to introduce students who have a passion for creating their own real estate business to the challenges and opportunities they will face, and the tools they will need to be successful. The course will expose students to the personal skills, organizational challenges, financial structures and market factors that influence the success or failure of a real estate entrepreneur. This includes a focus on the factors that lead to a successful entrepreneur as well as the key opportunities in real estate. 3 credits. 

Real Estate Fundamentals This course presents the core principles of real estate development, financing, and planning. Key trends will also be discussed and analyzed. The course will review the basic real estate uses: residential, office, as well as retail/cultural facilities. While the course carefully reviews the fundamental real estate principles and analytics, e.g. supply/demand/feasibility, it will also cover real-world developments in the U.S. and abroad. A Case Study from a large-scale mixed-use project will be used through much of the class. Guest lecturers will be invited to join in selected presentations around actual projects and be available for intense interactive discussions. Relevant reading materials will be made available. 1.5 credits.

EMBA Block Week Course: Real Estate as an Asset and a Business: This block week course is designed to provide you with an intensive dive into the fundamentals of commercial real estate finance, investment, and development. It will cover several broad topics – (1) Scope of character of the commercial real estate industry; (2) Real Estate Finance and Investment; (3) Real Estate Transactions; and (4) Real Estate Development. 3 credits.

*Real Estate Finance is offered in the fall, spring, and summer terms. All other real estate courses are offered only once per academic year.