GY462      Half Unit
Real Estate Finance

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Olmo Silva S506A


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Real Estate Economics and Finance. This course is available on the MSc in Accounting and Finance, MSc in Risk and Finance and MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The number of students that can be accommodated is limited. If the course is over-subscribed, places will be allocated at the Department’s discretion and a waiting list may be created. For further details, please contact your relevant Programme Coordinator.

Course content

This course aims to provide students with concepts and techniques for analysing financial decisions in real estate development and investment. Topics include: basic real estate investment analysis and financial leverage; real options approach applied to real estate; real estate investment performance and portfolio considerations; private equity in real estate, structured investment deals and waterfall analysis; fixed and flexible rate mortgage loans and mortgage payment issues; tax transparent real estate investment vehicles (REITs); and current and international trends in real estate (time permitting).


In the Department of Geography and Environment, teaching will be delivered through a combination of classes/seminars, pre-recorded lectures, live online lectures, in-person lectures and other supplementary interactive live activities.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes/seminars and lectures across the Lent Term (plus one revision session in Summer Term).


External interventions by real estate practitioners will be scheduled when feasible.


This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.


Some enrichment (non-compulsory) activities related to the course might be scheduled during this period (e.g. sessions on cash-flow modelling in excel).

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to complete in-class exercises and up to two take-home case-studies.

Indicative reading

Key texts are:

Brueggeman, W. B. and J. D. Fisher (2005) Real Estate Finance & Investments (13th edition or newer), New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin;

Linneman, Peter (2004) Real Estate Finance & Investments: Risks and Opportunities, (2nd edition or newer). Philadelphia: Linneman Associates.

A more detailed reading list will be handed out at the beginning of the course.


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 10 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Presentation (30%) in the LT.

70% of the students' final grade will come from a two-hour closed book examination. The exam will consist of three questions and students will have to answer two out of these three questions. These questions will assess the material covered by the lecturers during the Lent Term as well as the topics discussed by the external speakers (two to three external interventions are planned every year; these are subject to confirmation).

30% of students' final grade will come from a group work and presentation on a "case study" in real estate financial investment. Students will be provided with some material and instructions before reading week of LT and will be assigned to groups of 4-5 students. They will have to work both on an xl cash flow analysis of this real estate investment opportunity as well as on a short (20min) presentation they will give as a group. They will then be allocated some time during one of the classes of Week 9 of LT to present their solution as a group (in person or online) and will be assessed both on their presentation skills and the technical understanding of the cash flow analysis used in their financial investment decision.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 20.2
Merit 40.8
Pass 29.1
Fail 9.9

Teachers' comment

Note: The high number of distinctions on this course does not denote an 'easy option'. Students are required to work on a number of case-studies and problem sets. Furthermore, they are required to complete a number of readings considered compulsory, but not fully covered during the lectures. As a result, the work-load is considerably high and the module is quite demanding. The distinction rate is more likely justified by the capped number of slots available on this course and the strong motivation of students successfully enrolling. As an indication, only approximately one in two students applying for this course is allowed to take it. The allocation is done on a first-come-first-serve basis (for students enrolled in specific MSc programmes) at the beginning of Michaelmas Term (with some small adjustments at the beginning of Lent Term).

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2019/20: 70

Average class size 2019/20: 18

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills