Building and Leading Real Estate Enterprises and Entrepreneurship

This course focusses on how you conceive, start, manage and lead successful real estate companies. By virtue of the industry in which they compete, real estate companies are almost always founded and developed by entrepreneurs. A few grow to become category killers; others are able to compete in a crowded and competitive landscape. Many, however, are eventually closed down; sometimes as a result of significant market economic shifts, sometimes due to lack of good corporate strategy or execution capability, and sometimes due to the founder neglecting to institutionalize a lasting organization to succeed him or her.

Taught through a combination of lectures, cases and analytical problems, this course examines (primarily through the lens of real estate investment and development companies), the critical ingredients required to start, grow and lead long term competitive enterprises. The course will begin with an examination of how to optimize the performance of real properties and then migrate to the design and development of successful companies which own or service properties.

At the end of this course students should gain a deeper appreciation of how to develop a robust strategy, capital plan, corporate culture and adaptable execution capability that are part of every great real estate company. Students should also be able to construct a business plan for a simple start up. Students will be encouraged to think about how they may launch their own real estate enterprise during the course, and to make active use of the Harvard I-lab as they explore different company concepts.

Prerequisite: The course requires students to have already taken GSD 5204 or a comparable introductory course in real estate and real estate finance offered by other schools at Harvard. Introductory mathematical economics or micro economics is also desirable but not required.

Paired Course: Although not mandatory, this course is meant to be taken in conjunction with GSD 5275 which is also 2 credits and meets at the same time as 5276. GSD 5276 will build on many of the questions and concepts that 5275 postulates.