Why a Real Estate Degree Really Matters? – The Property Chronicle
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Why a Real Estate Degree Really Matters?

The Professor

When we examine the major donors to worthwhile causes, especially schools of business within universities, why are some of the largest donors so often real estate professionals? This fact alone should wake up those universities who do not pay sufficient heed to a critical industry. Unfortunately, real estate academics suffer through a career of hearing “why do you need to teach that in school? A license is easy to get?” Those in the industry know otherwise and know that studying real estate is one of the most important industries, deserving of far more attention by universities. Real estate is now one of the most important and active asset classes, included as part of any more enlightened investment portfolio.

Some of us enjoy the real estate industry because the idea of creating something durable is exciting, even if your role is merely a minor part of the process. Others love it because, in order to be good, you need to understand the perspectives of occupants and owners, lenders and investors, business cycles and regulation, politics, finance and more. We love the complexity and breadth of this all-encompassing business field.

Take the perspective of a landlord trying to entice tenants, lease space and manage a building: Aside from needing to know finance and investment analysis prior to purchase, or ground up development design and construction, landlords now must incorporate data analysis to find suitable tenants, understand how to market (including via social media) and persuade potential tenants to consider new space and be able to analyze the business of the tenant to evaluate the chances of success in paying future rent. It gets worse.  If the space is retail, they must know how this new tenant affects the sales of all the other tenants and how resilient they are in a pandemic, as well as when (time of day) they impact parking, how much parking their customers require and much more. Lease negotiations and finding the best space for a tenant representative also requires knowledge of finance, location analysis, data visualization and more. Then, once tenants are in a building, the managers need to keep them happy.  This requires important people skills aside from utilizing the best of Proptech and dealing with transitioning to a nearly touchless facility for tenants.

Real estate touches every facet of our life. Where we live, where we work, where we shop, where goods we consume are manufactured and so on. In brief, the best real estate professionals will need to be properly educated, tech and data savvy, entrepreneurial and global in perspectives. They must also be good negotiators and presenters with some understanding of economics, marketing, design, law, regulations, environmental impacts, construction, management, statistics, logistics in some cases and more. It is impossible to be over-educated in any of these areas if you are trying to excel in real estate. Successful real estate professionals are information vacuums, constantly monitoring trends in the way we live, play and work as these all impact the buildings and spaces we need.

At one point in time, real estate was a cost center within firms. Today, real estate is a productivity center and the bar has been raised on the environmental standards along with the efficiency and flexibility of space. In aiming to serve this industry, real estate programs at the university level try and serve several functional areas including but not limited to:

  • Developers
  • Lenders
  • Brokerage
  • Leasing
  • Appraisal (Surveyors)
  • Asset and Property Management
  • Investment and Acquisition
  • Planners
  • Real Estate Lawyers
  • Market Analysts and Consultants

Such programs often affiliate and work with a number of trade associations, including but not limited to:

The Professor

About Norman Miller

Dr. Miller is the Hahn Chair of Real Estate Finance at the University of San Diego (USD), and Vice-President of the Homer Hoyt Institute, a think tank of global real estate scholars and industry research directors. As Senior Vice President of Research for Collateral Analytics he helps develop real estate analytic products and tools to support financial institutions, banks andinvestors including valuation models, mortgage risk products, and using machine learning for data analytics.

Articles by Norman Miller

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