a nighttime view of the Zakim Bridge in Boston

Real Estate Finance Fundamentals

Learn the primary steps in the real estate financing processes, using examples from many asset types and discussing globally applicable principles.

This program takes place right after Real Estate Development Fundamentals (June 4 & 5, 2024).

Curious about what to expect when coming to campus? Please visit our Campus Learning page.

This short 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‚ÄĒregardless of participants‚Äô prior real estate finance experience.

We will focus on real estate finance fundamentals that are important to either develop and/or invest in varied types of real estate assets, or to enhance your ability to understand how real estate finance fundamentals relate to your primary 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.

What to Expect

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.

  • 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.
  • Understand a simple Waterfall/Promote structure.

This program is intended for 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. For experienced executives, please consider the Advanced Management Development Program.


Headshot of David Smith

David Smith

Founder and CEO, Affordable Housing Institute (AHI)

The Harvard GSD Real Estate Finance Fundamentals course helped both validate and improve the way we assess the financial impact of corporate real estate investment opportunities. We also thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of the course participants, both in terms of nationality and work experience, and look forward to attending other GSD real estate oriented courses in the near future.

Jeff Ammon, Regions Bank

Participant Stories

an image of Adrian Elosua

Adrian Elosua

Co-founder | Vinson Capital

Headshot of Anthony Leighs

Anthony Leighs

Founder and Managing Director | Leighs Construction Limited

Headshot of Jake Leonard

Jake Leonard

Project Manager | Wallick Construction

a portrait of Heather McGinn-Giron

Heather McGinn-Girón, AIA, NOMA

Founding Principal | Studio Even Odd Architecture and Design

an image of Joanne Thorlby

Joanne Thorlby

Operations at Watson Group (New Zealand)

Ikenna Udejiofor

Ikenna Udejiofor

Administrator | Prince George’s County Government, Office of Central Services

Real Estate Finance Fundamentals

June 6 & 7, 2024 | 9:00am – 5:00pm Eastern

On Campus 
Tuition:  $1,950
CEUs: 14 AIA LUs , 14 AICP/CM, 14 LA/CES
AMDP Elective Units: 2

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Please sign up above if you would like to be notified when the next session is announced.

Discounts & Deadlines

Please email us at [email protected] with any questions and to ask about group signup.

Registration Deadline: 24 hours before the start of the program.

Full Discount and Cancellation Policies