Real Estate Finance and Investment Drivers, Strategies and Valuation (RE101)


This Real Estate Finance and Investment Drivers, Strategies and Valuation course sets the stage for the Real Estate Finance and Investment Program. It presents the overview for making professional real estate investment and development decisions. We present the fundamental drivers of real estate investment, and discuss the patterns of urban growth and how they influence long term investment returns. Real estate is a long term investment that is subject to major swings in the market. We discuss how to play the market cycle in order to determine the best time to invest and the best time to sell. We discuss investment criteria – how to evaluate a real estate investment opportunity to determine whether it meets your personal financial objectives or those of your investors. Using the Brookside Square property in Boston as a case example, we present the fundamentals of real estate financial analysis including the five stages of analysis and the development timeline. We then present the fundamentals of real estate appraisal and the different methods for determining real estate value.
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Real Estate Finance and Investment Course Structure

1. Introduction to Real Estate Drivers, Strategies and Valuation
2. Patterns of Urban Growth
3. Real Estate Market Cycles
4. Real Estate Investment Criteria
5. Real Estate Investment Strategies
6. Brookside Square Investment Characteristics
7. Development Timeline
8. The Investment Decision Development
9. The Investment Decision Existing Buildings
10. Real Estate Appraisal
11. Real Estate Appraisal Approaches to Valuation Income Approach
12. Real Estate Investment Drivers, Strategies and Valuation
13. Final Course Assignment

Learning Objectives

– Understanding the multitude of factors involving location, urban growth, demographic trends, and market cycles that ultimately determine the success or failure of a real estate investment;
– Understanding how primary physical, financial, and operational characteristics of prospective acquisitions affect real estate value;
– Understanding the alternative strategies for investing in real estate depending on the risk profile, cash availability, credit availability and objectives of you and your investors;
– Providing a framework for real estate appraisal and how to determine the value of acquisitions and development projects.


The course will require 3-4 hours of work to be completed.


The course will includes quizzes after each video, excel tutorials, and a written essay.

Real Estate Finance and Investment Course Prerequisites

The course is for real estate professionals who would like to further advance into their career and also for the general public who want to learn the basics of real estate.


Build Academy will issue course certificates with credits to anyone who successfully completes 80% of the course assessments. Course participants will receive a diploma for completing the eight courses in the Real Estate Finance and Investment program. The two certificates available for the course are: basic, CEU-CPD. You can include the certificate in your CV and LinkedIn profile. We can also provide you with reference letters for job or school applications and promotions.

Real Estate Finance and Investment Course Readings

Recommended readings:

– Kristen Hunter, The Brookside Square Case Study, 2016
– Richard B. Peiser and David Hamilton, Professional Real Estate Development: The ULI Guide to the Business, 3rd Edition (The Urban Land Institute: Washington, D.C., 2012)
– William Brueggeman and Jeffrey Fisher, Real Estate Finance & Investments, 15th edition (McGraw-Hill, 2015)
– William J. Poorvu with Jeffrey L. Cruikshank, The Real Estate Game (Free Press, 1999).


Richard Peiser PhD, Michael D. Spear Professor at Harvard GSD

Richard Peiser

Richard Peiser has been the Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design since 1998. He is also Director of the university-wide Real Estate Academic Initiative created in 2003. He was previously on the faculty at the University of Southern California (1986-1998) as associate professor of urban planning and development, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate Development, and Academic Director of the Master of Real Estate Development Program that he founded in 1986. His courses: Real Estate Finance and Development, Field Studies in Real Estate, Planning and Urban Design, and Advanced Real Estate Development and Finance offer basic and advanced-level study of real estate at the GSD. He also taught the studios: Alternative Urban Pattern Prototypes: Looking at Pomona/Los Angeles, Newry, Northern Ireland—Revealing History in Urban Reconstruction, and Alternative Futures for the West Lake, Hangzhou, People’s Republic of China, as well as field studies in Texas, California, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Shanghai. He is directing the school’s activities in advanced education for senior real estate executives, notably the six-week Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate. Linkedin.

Kristen Hunter, DDes Candidate at Harvard GSD

Kristen Hunter

Kristen Hunter is a doctoral candidate in Real Estate Finance and Urban Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), where she has taught Real Estate Finance, as well as Public and Private Development, since 2010. She received a Master in Design Studies with distinction in Real Estate and Project Management from the GSD, earning the Gerald M. McCue Medal for highest overall academic record and the Ferdinand Colleredo Mansfeld Prize for superior achievement in real estate studies. She also holds an M.A. in Medieval Chinese History from Cornell University and an A.B. cum laude in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. An experienced real estate development manager and LEED AP, Kristen has delivered a variety of infill projects in Boston’s inner city neighborhoods, and currently provides strategic advisory for complex urban redevelopment projects in domestic and overseas. Linkedin.

Additional information


Basic Certificate, CPD-CEU Certificate