USC Price School of Public Policy

Course Descriptions

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RED 509 Market Analysis for Real Estate

(4 units – core course)
Instructors: Chris Redfearn and Alex Saunders
The basic objective of the course is to present fundamental economic theories, analytical techniques, as well as practical applications for market analysis of various forms of real estate. Assigned reading as well as class participation will emphasize a case study approach, drawing on case studies to analyze varying property types their particular methodologies regarding analyzing market opportunities. Various specialists in an array of property types may be guest speakers throughout the semester. A final project consisting of a market feasibility study of a selected development project will be prepared by all students.

RED 541 Finance Fundamentals for Real Estate Development

(2 units – core course)
Instructors: Terri Dickerhoff
This course provides broad exposure to the general principles of finance. The course is designed to introduce capital markets and financial institutions as well as valuation and risk management. This is an introductory, graduate-level course in finance specifically designed for students planning a further study in real estate finance and development. It provides the student with the necessary economic and finance concepts to form a basis for more intensive study of real estate applications. The markets for real estate assets are becoming more and more integrated into public markets for equity and debt with the rapid growth of the REIT sector and the CMBS market during the 1990s. As a consequence, tools that have been used in finance have a greater opportunity for application in a real estate environment. This course equips students with basic financial analytic tools that are critical for understanding the determination of prices and values in the real estate investment, finance and development arena.

RED 542 Finance of Real Estate Development

(3 units – core course)
Instructors: Alon Kraft and Babak Ziai
This course is designed to provide fluency in the tools of real estate analysis. Real estate is generally characterized as a long-lived asset with value derived from the stream of cash flows it generates over time. How these cash flows are interpreted defines an asset’s value. RED 542 focuses on the various valuation techniques used in practice and on their strengths and weaknesses. Students entering RED 542 are assumed to have basic knowledge of finance fundamentals. Topics will include valuation techniques (especially discounted cash flow analysis) and the relationships between them, use of debt and equity, leases, taxes, the metrics or risk and return and how they are modeled. Other topics will be introduced as part of class discussion, but the primary focus is on developing mastery of the central tools of real estate analysis.

RED 544 Real Estate Capital Markets

(2 units – core course)
Instructor: Shlomi Ronen
This course acquaints students with the structure, instruments, and institutions of real estate capital markets. In so doing, the course considers linkages between real estate and general capital markets as well as the major features of both residential and non-residential primary and secondary mortgage markets — notably including structure and performance of residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities. The course provides exposure to public sources of real estate equity finance, including real estate investment trusts (REITs). Finally, the course reviews recent developments in global real estate capital markets.

RED 545 Advanced Financial Modeling

(2 units – elective course)
Instructor: Ehud G. Mouchly
This course is designed to provide a competitive edge through training in efficient quantitative problem solving. Focus is on computerized modeling as an integral tool in decision making and deal structuring. By learning advanced interpretive and technical skills using computerized spreadsheets, the course will be of greatest benefit to those who already have experience in financial and real estate analysis. The advanced nature of the course refers to the complexity of the problems that are analyzed and to the technical level of spreadsheet analysis and modeling. As a prerequisite for enrollment in this course, students must have working knowledge of real estate accounting and finance. Students should also have generalized spreadsheet skills, such as spreadsheet commands and functions, simple macros, use of range names, dynamic linking, etc.

RED 546 Applications of Real Estate Finance to Problems of Development

(3 units – core course)
Instructor: Chris Redfearn and John Menne
This course is designed to facilitate mastery of the core skills required of real estate professionals, be they developers, financiers, brokers, investment managers, etc. Each position requires the ability to think critically about valuation and the elements used in its construction. The class helps develop this faculty by exercising the student’s analytical abilities in a number of different contexts such as acquisition, development and financing of investment real estate, asset management, corporate real estate, lease analysis, distressed properties and the real estate workout process – including bankruptcy. The course is appropriate for students interested in real estate, together with strong finance skills and a desire to broaden their exposure to some of the unique aspects of real estate.

RED 547 Project Management and Construction

(2 units – core course)
Instructor: Dennis Watsabaugh
This course is designed to familiarize students with the process of project management within the context of real estate development from concept through completion. The course also reviews construction technologies within the framework of architectural design and engineering as well as construction means, methods and systems. At the conclusion of the course, students should: have a working knowledge of important project management principles; be well-versed in the key players and concepts during planning, design and construction phases of a project; understand schedule, budget, and quality control concepts and techniques; be familiar with construction terminology, means, methods, and materials; learn how to identify, manage, and mitigate risk; and, appreciate the economic, legal, regulatory, and humanitarian aspects of project safety.

RED 551 The Approval Process

(4 units – core course)
Instructors: Michael Keston, Allan Kotin, or Nicole Kuklok-Waldman
This course is designed to familiarize students with the project entitlement process, its land use component elements and associated developer fees, exactions and other infrastructure finance sources. The course will also examine a variety of ethical situations ranging from insider trading to corporate conscience issues and will explore specific negotiation techniques and strategies. Students explore the process that begins with the project application and ends with issuance of a building permit. The course focuses on five broad aspects of the project entitlement process: (1) the legal and bureaucratic procedures; (2) the critical nature of community involvement and government relations; (3) the financial impacts associated with the entitlement process; (4) ethical dilemmas which may be experienced by the developer; and (5) the negotiation required with community groups, government agencies and land owners. Specific topics include the environmental impact review (EIR) process, land use entitlement, fiscal impact analysis, financing techniques for infrastructure, managing community opposition, governmental relations, and Federal and State legislative impact arising from Federal Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

RED 562 Legal Issues in Real Estate Development

(4 units – core course)
Instructor: Keith Allen-Niesen or Kerry Fields
This class is a concentrated course of lecture and study of various legal subjects and issues that the real estate industry deals with on a daily basis. The course is divided into two parts: The first part is pure legal principles not dissimilar to what is taught in law school. There are portions covering the history of law, constitutional principles, real property law, contract law and land use law and taxation. The second, and greater, part of the course covers applied law – things that are not taught in law school, but which will be dealt with regularly as a developer. These include topics concerning the purchase and sale transaction, project documents, title insurance, the leasing transaction, and litigation-related issues. The goal is to make students aware of many of the laws that affect the development process and to instill the confidence and knowledge to deal effectively with legal problems, regulators and lawyers.

RED 563 Introduction to Asset Management

(2 units – elective course)
Instructor: Stanley Iezman
This course seeks to provide the student with the basics surrounding the structure and function of real estate asset management and how it creates value for the owner and operator of real estate assets. Real estate asset management is the process by which an owner of an asset develops an investment strategy for an investment and then manages the entire process by which the goals of that strategy are accomplished through the ownership cycle, from the acquisition phase, through the leasing and disposition phase. The course seeks to provide the developer, owner, investor, lender, capital market participant, and individual be they a public entity or private entity with the various disciplines which are included in the asset management process. It is the asset manager who is the CEO of each operating asset and is the linchpin for all investment and operating decisions of the asset.

RED 573 Design History and Criticism

(2 units – core course)
Instructor: Elizabeth Falletta
Design History and Criticism will explore the different points of view from which design can be valued and encourage the development of students’ skills as thoughtful design critics. As agents of building, developers are called upon to critique architectural, urban and community design, both existing and proposed. Their responses shape the quality, image and use of the built environment to a profound degree. Design, however, tends to be viewed as somewhat of a black box by the development community and is rarely utilized as a dynamic and evolving driver of urban change. Architecture and design, in the meantime, have been ever accelerating, striving to keep pace with cultural and technological transformation. This course is intended to help future developers become comfortable with this pace of architectural change and confidently assess the quality and viability of emerging design ideas. The course will provide a lens through which to begin seeing, understanding and evaluating design work, helping students gain the skills needed to elucidate their own design opinions and aesthetic values. Students’ success in the course will depend upon keen observation, a willingness to express both verbal and graphic design ideas that are provisional and the commitment to develop these ideas to their full potential.

RED 574 Building Typologies

(2 units – core course)
Instructor: Carl Meyer
In this course, students will examine the role of physical design in relation to fundamental building types, in order to understand the primary design and planning issues and to learn to evaluate any particular design. The class will survey five principal building types of real estate development: single and multi-family housing, retail, industrial, mixed use, and office. Site visits, lectures, slide presentations, assignments, and readings will focus on these building families, their fundamental ordering principles, and the most common subtypes. Students will look at design prototypes, i.e., buildings that are canonical in their families. The focus will be on the physical patterns the building types embody at the level of the urban context, the street, the site, and the building form and organization. For each building type, the course will explore the criteria for good design and the foundations for such an evaluation. The course is intended to introduce students to a fuller understanding of any single building, in its city, for its intended purpose, so that they will approach any development undertaking with informed judgment about its design. The course will explicitly examine the relationship between good design and good business in development, to determine if and when architectural quality contributes to the success of a project.

RED 575 Community Design and Site Planning

(4 units – core course)
Instructors: Steve Kellenberg, Ken Long, and Carl Meyer
The primary objective of this course is to provide an understanding of the various planning and design issues that should be addressed as part of any real estate development project. The lab is intended to help students to be able to effectively visualize and communicate their ideas about a site. Students should complete the semester capable of assessing a property for its development potential, understanding the various factors that define the size’s particular character, understanding the effect that zoning and jurisdictional standards have on the development potential of a site and preparing site plans for commercial, retail, residential, mixed use and tourist projects of various densities. This course is not meant to teach architectural design or to stress drawing techniques, rather the emphasis is on understanding basic site planning concepts including circulation, open space, pedestrian access, parking, service and typical building layouts. However, these concepts can only be learned through hands-on experience in drawing and preparing site plans. Therefore, each of the assignments will require drafting.

RED 585 Comparative International Development

(2 units – elective course)
Instructor: Richard Green
Students will obtain first-hand knowledge of doing business in international markets. The main purpose of the workshop is to study and analyze the business environment and opportunities as well as the risks of real estate investment and development in international markets. The topics that will be emphasized include current and potential opportunities for investment and development in Asian real estate markets, financial and market analyses, cultural, political and social-economic considerations of doing business in these markets. The course includes a 10-day site visit to an international setting with site visits and meetings with real estate professionals abroad. In the past, students have traveled to China, Croatia, England, Germany, Japan, and Korea.

RED 590 Directed Research

(1-12, max. 12 units – Students may elect to pursue an independent study project under the supervision of a faculty member of the student’s choice. The instructor and the student will collaborate on the nature and scope of the project and determine the appropriate number of units.

RED 598 Real Estate Product Development

The MRED program includes a series of courses focusing on an evaluation of various real estate development product types. Individual classes are:

RED 598 Design and Development in Southern California

(2 units – core/elective option)
Instructor: Carl Meyer
This class will frame the basic issues of development planning by taking a physical survey of the seminal southern California developments, informed by lectures and interviews with the original developers, designers, and managers of the properties. The class will explore the why and the how of land use planning and site design from town centers to office, retail, residential and mixed-use development. The course will familiarize the students with a set of analogues and case studies that will inform future course work, especially in the design sequence. Students will learn simple techniques to gauge and record the scale and proportion of the prototypical developments visited as well as an articulation of the qualitative aspects of spaces. Students will keep a class sketchbook journal during the entire term and will record the qualitative and quantitative aspects of each place visited as well as diagrammatic interpretations of key elements. The will include everything from diagramming the central plaza to measuring and evaluating the functional aspects of the parking structure and the loading dock area. The course will consist of four bus tours to Southern California areas to visit notable commercial and residential developments and meet with members of the design, development and management teams. During the tour we will also present a series of lectures and discussion of key development site planning issues.

RED 598 Multi-Family Development

(2 units – core/elective option)
Instructor: Chris Payne
This course is designed to introduce students to the intricacies of multifamily and mixed-use development from the perspective of the developer. The multifamily developer is charged with leading a team of professionals through site analysis, land acquisition, financing, project approvals, completed construction, and lease up. Each team member has a specific responsibility—architects manage design, engineers ensure safety, consultants assist in complying with zoning codes, and contractors execute on the plans. However, the following three components are the sole responsibility of the developer, and teaching students how to master these will be the main objective of this course: acquire the land at a price that is aggressive enough to secure the deal, but conservative enough to allow for the completion of a financially successful project; thoroughly understand all the assumptions in the proforma and manage all the costs, risks, and timelines associated with those assumptions; and deliver the expected returns that were committed to the owners (land committee, board of directors, financial partners, etc.) as close to the period of time in which those returns were expected.

RED 598 Office and Industrial Development

(2 units – core/elective option)
Instructor: John Drachman
This course will provide students with a framework to analyze the development of and investment in office and industrial real estate projects. Topics covered in the course will include how to find, acquire, develop and market projects; market and economic feasibility; development proforma and residual land value analysis; site and building design and layout; development and project management; lease negotiations and satisfying tenant requirements; and construction and permanent project financing.

RED 598 Retail Development

(2 units – core/elective option)
Instructor: Jeff Kreshek
This course provides a step-by-step analysis of the development cycle of a shopping center and a mixed use development including: shopping center and mixed-use product types and analogues; defining a niche; acquisition methodology; defining trade areas an determining market feasibility; acquiring properties; analyzing zoning; determining a development program to achieve the highest residual land value; developing a site plan, floor plans and elevations for a development program; assembling a development team; obtaining entitlements; developing and executing a leasing strategy; proforma financial analysis and lender underwriting; obtaining capital; the construction process; and hold versus sell analysis. In addition, the course will cover risk mitigation factors, typical problems and resolutions of same, development company organizations and the tract map and DRE processes for condominiums.

RED 598 Residential Land Acquisition

(2 units – core/elective option)
Instructor: Nam Joe
This course is an in-depth introduction to land acquisitions from the perspective of the for-sale, residential development industry. While course materials and discussion will be focused on homebuilders and homebuilding, students will find that many of the acquisitions concepts and strategies to be discussed are applicable across real estate asset classes. The first half of the semester will be dedicated to understanding the land acquisition process from initial underwriting to closing and all the steps in-between. The second half of the semester will focus on land acquisition strategies, sourcing, soft skills, key players, deal structures and value maximization.

RED 598 Hotel/Resort Development

(4 units – core/elective option)
Instructor: Bruce Baltin
This class will study several related product types and segments within the hospitality industry. Topics covered include: Design of hotels, conference space, recreational amenities, parking, and overall resort theme; Local and state entitlements issues that are unique to resorts, construction cost estimates, phasing and management; Typical terms and structure of construction or acquisition debt and equity, and timeshare consumer receivables finance; Underwriting and due diligence for hotel acquisition and the repositioning process; Resort operations, homeowners associations, legal/regulatory issues; and Role of management companies and franchisors will be covered, as will all aspects of hotel operations including food & beverage operations in resort hotels.

RED 598 Urban Infill Development and Community Change

(2 units – core/elective option)
Instructor: Mott Smith
Developers often say, “We don’t build projects, we build communities.” This line, while hackneyed, provides a helpful way to distinguish between suburban development and urban infill. Suburban development, in some respects, actually does constitute building communities, particularly when projects are built on vacant land and/or when they cover many acres and entail public realm elements, such as roads, sidewalks, parks and/or schools. Urban infill development, by contrast, is the craft of “building in communities.” Infill projects have distinct building typologies, business structures, scales, available subsidies and incentives (depending on the circumstances), and take place in more complex regulatory, financial, political and market environments than suburban projects. As such, urban infill development defies broad formulaic approaches and demands creativity and resourcefulness from its practitioners. The goal of this course is to help prepare students prepare for their work as protagonists of neighborhood change – to explore the social and economic context of infill development, and to develop an ethical and aspirational foundation for their future projects.

RED 599 Special Topics

(2-4, max. 8 units – elective course)
Occasionally new courses are offered on a trial basis in the MRED program. These are preliminarily listed as RED 599 Special Topics classes.