Chair’s Note

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Runstad Department of Real Estate, the newest academic department within the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington. While we were only established in 2017, the department builds upon the work of the long-standing Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.

These are not only exciting times for the department but also for real estate. From a local perspective to a global one the urban environment is rapidly changing, and so too is real estate. The last few decades have seen significant and fundamental change that has affected the role of real estate both socially and economically. It may be argued that the thirty years from the early eighties onwards were dominated by financial innovation. Many countries saw the liberalization of mortgages and the growing importance of the capital markets through the development and growth in Mortgage Backed Securities and Real Estate Investment Trusts. Real estate became a more mainstream investment asset, seeing a broadening of the investor base beyond the traditional institutions. In many markets this was accompanied by an increasing role for international investors and leveraged funds. While there were many positives, the financial crisis a decade ago highlighted some of the challenges that accompanied these innovations.

While financial innovation may have been the primary driver for the last thirty-five years, it is unlikely that it will dominate to the same extent in the future. The changing nature and source of economic growth, together with issues such as urbanization, demographic change, sustainability and the impact of technology have increasingly come to the fore. At a local level many cities, Seattle included, face challenges with respect to infrastructure, housing affordability and the provision of adequate housing supply. The Runstad Department of Real Estate emphasizes the importance of understanding the interdisciplinary nature of real estate. Located in the College of Built Environments the department is ideally placed to examine the challenges facing real estate, and the broader built environment, in the 21st century. We are a forward looking and innovative center for academic excellence. Our students are immersed in a dynamic and thought provoking learning environment that combines academic rigor with commercial relevance, addressing the key issues facing the real estate sector in the 21st century and helping to provide students with flexible and transferable skills that will make them adaptable future industry and community leaders.

The strategic vision of the Runstad Department of Real Estate is:

To be one the world’s leading academic centers in real estate, through the promotion of excellence in research and educational programs in an intellectually stimulating, creative and innovative environment and that engages with and empowers real estate leaders and the community to transform our built environment.

This is achieved by providing the best learning experience possible for our students and by being a leading resource for both academic and applied research. This is an exciting time for the Runstad Department of Real Estate. I hope that whether in a program or research context we can share some of that journey together.


Simon Stevenson
John and Rosalind Jacobi Family Professor of Real Estate
Chair, Runstad Department of Real Estate