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The mission of the Guthrie Center for Real Estate Research is to educate students, to support and foster research on real estate finance, real estate markets and urban economics, and to provide a forum for the engagement and continuing education of real estate professionals.

Alumnus Ian Sanders gives $2 million to Kellogg School of Management, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Kellogg and NU Partner to Offer Undergrad Real Estate Curriculum

In collaboration with Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Kellogg will create new real estate courses and professional development opportunities for undergraduates. The catalyst for the programming is a $2 million gift from Ian Sanders ’91.


The financial crisis of 2008-2009 had its roots in the market for residential real estate, and the tremendous change in the market has highlighted the need for tomorrow’s real estate professionals to have a thorough understanding of the theory and practice of the real estate industry, to learn from past mistakes and to shape the future of the industry. Real estate research has been long neglected by academics and has been considered to be a more practitioner-oriented field that requires a lot of institutional knowledge but lacks real intellectual depth. We at Kellogg beg to differ. The finance department has a long tradition of researching questions in the intersection between household finance and macroeconomics and we have deepened this field recently by hiring several tenure-track professors with research interests in household finance, macroeconomics and real estate.

Why is Real Estate Important?

  1. Real Estate is one of the largest components of Gross Domestic Product in the U.S., accounting for about 13% of GDP Value Added. As a comparison, the finance industry accounts for 7%, retail for 5.8%, and manufacturing for 12.1%.
  2. Real Estate plays an important role in other countries as well, it accounts for 11.1% of GDP in the UK, 10.8% in Germany, 13.3% in France and 14.3% in Italy.
  3. Real Estate is one of the largest asset classes in the world and is growing in importance. For example, in 2016 S&P recognized the global importance of real estate by elevating it from a subsector of “financials” to one of the 11 sectors within its Global Industry Classification Standard (CICS).
  4. Real estate is the largest asset in the U.S. banking system at about $4 trillion as of August 2016 (see Figure 1), accounting for about 25% of banks’ total assets.

loan assets chart

Why is Research on Household Finance and Real Estate Important?

  1. Consumer loans and real estate account for almost 40% of banks’ total assets in the U.S.
  2. The dramatic rise in the importance of real estate (Figure 2) and the high level of real estate debt reflects structural changes in the global economy – the shift from manufacturing to services and increased rates of urbanization and suburbanization. Understanding real estate prices, markets and the financing of real estate is one of the most important questions in finance and macroeconomics.
  3. Real estate research crosses fields and disciplines such as public economics, urban economics, macroeconomics and finance. It operates through different types of institutions such as banks, insurance companies, private equity, pension funds and government-sponsored enterprises.
  4. The importance of real estate is not confined only to Commercial Real Estate – in fact, Residential Real Estate accounts for a larger share of the real estate stock, representing 53% of real estate loans on banks’ balance sheets. As such, research on real estate has unique and important policy implications.

evolution of loans chart

The Kellogg School’s Real Estate Program is designed to ensure that our students are ready to meet the challenges of the real estate market. The comprehensive curriculum – offering 9 different real estate classes - gives students the knowledge and adaptability they’ll need in order to excel in high-level professional and managerial careers in the industry.