Mission + History

The Runstad Department of Real Estate is named in honor of Jon and Judy Runstad who provided a cornerstone gift that helped to establish the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in 2002. The Center was established to further the development of real estate education at the University of Washington, subsequently leading to the creation of the Department of Real Estate in 2017.

In the mid-sixties the university began offering a series of graduate level real estate courses. These courses raised awareness of an industry that was rapidly developing and helping bring Seattle onto the national stage. The late eighties saw the launch of the non-degree certificate program in commercial real estate. The first steps into research were made with the creation of the Center for Community Development and Real Estate (CDRE).

After its establishment in 2002, the Runstad Center initially focused upon extending the range of graduate courses and developing both its academic and industry-facing research program. The next major stage of development was the launch of the Masters of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) in 2009. Since its inception the MSRE program has seen over 100 students graduate. Combining academic rigor and commercial relevance, the program aims to prepare the real estate leaders of tomorrow through an innovative, interdisciplinary program that allows students to specialize in development, finance & investment or corporate real estate. The research capabilities of the Runstad Center were enhanced in 2012 by the transfer of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER) from Washington State University to the University of Washington. WCRER provides a focal point for our applied industry-facing research, including the regular housing reports produced for the state of Washington.

In 2014, Professor Sofia Dermisi joined UW, while in 2016 Professor Simon Stevenson arrived as the new Director of the Runstad Center. However, 2017 proved to be a landmark year. Four new faculty arrived: Arthur Acolin, Gregg Colburn, Pike Oliver and Rebecca Walter in addition to a new Director of Research, James Young. However, most significantly 2017, saw the creation of the new Department of Real Estate within the College of Built Environments. The creation of a separate department highlights the commitment and ambition at the University of Washington to develop a world-leading center of excellence in real estate, research, and education. Our mission 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

To achieve this we aim to:

  • Provide a globally relevant, interdisciplinary educational experience that combines the rigor and learning experience expected of a world class academic institution with career enhancing applied skills.
  • Produce high impact innovative research that address the challenges facing real estate, the broader built environment and society.
  • Be thought leaders providing an intellectual hub that takes the lead in the examination of developing trends and issues.