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Harvard Graduate School of Design

Real Estate Finance Fundamentals

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Next dates

Jul 24—25
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 1400
USD 700 per day


This two-day program will present critical "nuts-and-bolts" real estate finance principles and practices in a simple, understandable, and interactive manner that will demystify the real estate financing process ─ regardless of participants’ prior real estate finance experience. We will focus on real estate finance fundamentals to either develop and invest in varied types of real estate assets, or to enhance your ability to understand how real estate finance fundamentals relate to your primary design, engineering, construction, legal, permitting, marketing or property management role as a member of a real estate development or investment team, all with emphasis on understanding how real estate value is created, measured, and managed.

Expect a lively and engaging interactive classroom experience! Key topics will include: establishing realistic financial objectives; identifying and calculating the primary components of return in income-producing real estate including cash flow, tax benefits, and futures; preparing operating and capital cost pro formas and sources and uses of funds statements; understanding debt-financing underwriting basics (net operating income, debt service coverage factors, annual constants, debt/equity ratios, and other lender underwriting requirements); appreciating the importance of achieving positive financial leverage; calculating and interpreting standard industry measures of return: Return on Total Asset Cost (Cap Rate), Cash-on-Cash Return, leveraged and unleveraged Net Present Value (NPV), and Internal Rate of Return (IRR); and Equity Multiples. Other topics will include preparing sensitivity analyses and understanding simple Waterfall/Promote structures (the priority and amount of cash flow distributions to the respective financial and operating partners in a real estate joint development or investment joint venture). We will teach and discuss these principles that are applicable worldwide using examples drawn from a wide variety of asset classes.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the methodologies used to calculate the primary components of return in income-producing real estate;
  • Establish reasonable financial return targets for each of these primary return components;
  • Determine the level of debt financing that a project is likely to achieve based upon applicable underwriting criteria;
  • Prepare simple operating pro forma, capital cost pro forma, and sources and uses of funds statements;
  • Understand the most common real estate industry measures of return and the relative importance of each measure;
  • Understand the significance of Purchase, Operating, and Exit Cap Rates; and
  • Understand a simple Waterfall/Promote structure.

Who should attend

Developers, architects, engineers, contractors, lenders, property managers, lawyers, brokers, investors, and other participants in the real estate development, investment, entitlement or regulatory process, including private, public, and NGO-sector players.

This program is not designed for real estate professionals seeking an advanced real estate finance course.


Edward Marchant, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, teaches courses on real estate development and finance and on the development, financing, and management of affordable and mixed-incomehousing. He also serves as has served as a faculty member in Harvards Executive Education programs sponsored b...
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