As many of the regular readers know, I’ve been teaching at Columbia’s MS in Real Estate Development program for about 10 years.

Here’s a question I received from a former student earlier today (with minor changes made to protect privacy):

“Hi Josh,

I hope this email finds you well.

I took your real estate finance class at Columbia two years ago (which was great). I am currently an Associate at XXXXXX and I am looking to brush up on my modeling skills.

I was wondering if you had any commercial real estate acquisition or valuation case study assignments for sale. I liked the structure of your homework assignments which provided terms/assumptions and required us to build extensive cash flow models to calculate and analyze relevant return metrics.


Thankfully, there’s a solution for Matt, and it doesn’t involve me selling him anything.

I’ve mentioned William Poorvu before. He’s the author of the great and well known book, The Real Estate Game: The Intelligent Guide To Decisionmaking And Investment. It just so happens that he also put together another book called, The Real Estate Challenge: Capitalizing on Change. What is so surprising about this other book is that it’s basically a collection of Harvard Business School case studies on real estate finance and development. However, instead of paying HBS for the cases (which would become very expensive, very quickly), you can simply buy a used copy for not a lot of money; when I last checked on amazon, there are used copies that go for under $10. Admittedly, the cases are dated as the book was published in 1995, but for the starving grad student, it’s still the best deal you can find. 

There’s also another version of the book, Real Estate: A Case Study Approach. Don’t get that one. It’s a facsimile copy and it doesn’t have as much material in it.

Keep the questions coming.