International Real Estate and Urban Development

Real estate, in the international realm, is anchored at the intersection of economic activities, capital flows, and the spatial transformation of the environment. While different locales may entail distinct contextual elements embedded in real estate and design practices, fluid cross-border capital operation and increasingly connected institutional actors at the global scale constitute a formidable force in shaping and guiding the formation and operational mechanism of the built environment.

Through lectures, case studies, charrettes, and class discussions, this course provides students with knowledge and insights about the process and analytical frameworks of real estate development and investment from a comparative and trans-regional perspective. It begins by introducing institutional parameters that measure the comparative forces and disruptions framing the current landscapes of international real estate. It then proceeds to examine analytical frameworks assessing the risks, opportunities, and performance of international real estate based on asset types. The course concentrates on real estate practice models and emerging asset types that shape urban development and are deployed in selected locations of the world. Real estate financing strategies, institutional features, operational tactics, and physical design maneuvers of real estate projects located in countries and regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas are analyzed and interpreted through a lens of the decision-making process at the project and urban dimensions.

The pedagogical goals of this course are threefold: 1) to establish conceptual frameworks for understanding international real estate development and investment at both macro and micro scales; 2) to help students grasp the fundamental logic and business models embedded in various real estate asset types and urban development typologies; 3) to help broaden students’ understanding of capital and risk when investing in international commercial properties, international REITs, and land markets; and 4) to expand students’ sensitivity and perspectives about commonalities and differences embedded in the real estate practices across various localities in the international realm.

Students will work independently and in teams on assigned cases and participate in organized charrettes. Students’ deliverables include an in-class presentation and a final research paper based on the investigative research framework set at the beginning of the semester. The class meets once a week and is open to registered students from the GSD and other Harvard Schools. 

Students who took PRO 7452 in Spring 2022 cannot take this course for credit.

MRE students who want to take this course should enter the Limited Enrollment Course Lottery and will be automatically enrolled.