• 1. About the Books
  • 2. About the Author
  • 3. About the Students
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  • 1. Why the name Property Knowledge?

    Property is a more universal term than real estate, which term evolved from the original English tradition of Royals’ Estate back when all the land was owned by the King. In our view, property is a more contemporary, global term, and real estate is a subset of property. Property suggests a more expansive way of thinking about the discipline than is conveyed in the conventional “real estate” introductory textbooks.
    Knowledge embraces theory, principles, and practices.

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  • 2. How is Property Knowledge different from the other real estate principles textbook?

    The Property Knowledge series is differentiated from other textbooks in several significant ways:

    Multiple Perspectives — Property Knowledge considers real estate from multiple perspectives:

    (1) Responsible, concerned, involved citizen

    (2) Public policy leader, politician, and government official

    (3) Consumer of property goods and services

    (4) Decision-maker responsible for enterprises, work place and consumer market

    (5) Developer engaged in making the built environment

    (6) Investor whose decisions concern capital commitment, property resources and property services

    (7) Person considering career options in various aspects of the property discipline

    Emphasizing every citizen’s place-steward role and educating people to be more discerning consumers of property goods and services, rather than solely training people to be real estate brokers, developers, and dealmakers. While this latter group will certainly benefit from what is covered in Property Knowledge, the emphasis is on issues of concern to community members with a stake in and responsibility for the character of their places. The orientation of Property Knowledge is to the buy side rather than the sell side of the transaction.

     Scope — Substantially more comprehensive with deeper, richer, coverage:

    • Bridges nature and the built environment
    • Emphasizes psychology/behavior and motives
    • Cover topics in an integrated, interdependent way, rather than as separated and unconnected subjects
    • Considers meta themes, macro trends, and micro details
    • Links global and local forces
    • Explores the topics through employing multiple disciplines

    Every topic that is covered in the conventional treatment of the Introductory to Real Estate Principles book is covered in Property Knowledge. The coverage and approach, however, are quite different.

     Presentation — The existing real estate principles texts are largely stuck in a dated 1970s design sensibility. Our aspiration is to provide a vibrant presentation with a contemporary, progressive design. The book will be 9.5 x 13 inches, 600-plus pages, full color with a plethora of visual images and high production values, in contrast to existing books that employ very basic design, limited use of visual graphic images, and are essentially black and white with an occasional use of a third color. My close friend, the late James Graaskamp, once remarked that real estate, for all of its extraordinary glamour and dimensionality, is presented in textbooks in a flat, black and white, uninspired way. My vision is that the subject should be presented in a visually engaging, highly appealing, very high-quality form, reflective of the actual property markets. Using the highest production values, Property Knowledge will be more reminiscent of a beautiful art book than a textbook.

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  • 3. How is Property Knowledge structured?

    There are 16 subject “domains,” each of which has three to 10 primary sections, called books. Professors can select one, two, or all of the sections according to their interests. The number of domains was chosen to coordinate with the common schedule of classes over a 10-week time period, with two meetings per week. Research has shown that the structure is the most important element of a learning resource book, and of an information product. The structure frames how to think about the subject.

    The 16 domains are divided into five volumes. The first volume, Property Fundamentals, distills the material from each domain into a single chapter.

    A primary motivation in thinking about how to design the structure of Property Knowledge was the consideration than those who may interact with the property markets in some way necessarily do so from an integrated, combined perspective. Although one particular facet of this may be addressed at a particular point in time, that consideration must be connected to the larger whole. Emphasizing a more integrated, holistic, interdependent approach to the subject realistically reflects students’ real-life experiences of place and property.

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  • 4. What does Property Knowledge cover?

    Property Knowledge is intended to be a comprehensive textbook on the property discipline. Students also get exposed to several related disciplines: economics, business, finance, marketing, engineering, psychology, political science.

    The opening two domains consider the important roles of place choice to drive property decisions, the basic structure of the overall property market, and personal property decisions.

    Domain 3 examines the property process, how and technology, values and rules influence the property decisions. Here, the significant influences of legal factors are introduced.

    Domain 4 addresses important citizen and public policy issues, including sustainability. Domain 5 considers the place making in the role of cities, and housing issues — and includes profiles of two significant places: New York City and Detroit. It also discusses public policy and taxation.

    Domain 6 addresses property ownership, Domain 7, the producers and suppliers of property goods and services. Domain 8 thoroughly explores transactions.

    The significant and interdependent roles of economic analysis of property markets, property valuation, and investment returns are the subject of Domain 9.

    Domain 10 covers financing at the property level, while Domain 11 deals with capital markets and economic consequences of property financing.

    The focus of Domain 12 is innovation and deal-making. Domain 13 examines enterprise strategies, specifically the corporate real estate function, with highlights of the property strategies of Walmart, Apple, Sears and others.

    Domain 14 covers property investing fundamentals, while Domain 15 addresses property investing strategy. Considerations of managing properties from multiple perspectives — society coexisting with nature, large-scale housing delivery systems, and property management — are the focus of Domain 16.

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  • 5. There do not seem to be any sections purely devoted to law. Are legal aspects not much covered in this book?

    While no single domain or book is devoted to “legal aspects” of real estate, as is so prevalent in existing real estate principles textbooks, Property Knowledge covers legal factors as they relate to each subject, and therefore, much more comprehensively than do other principles texts. The treatment of legal factors in Property Knowledge is integrated, not separate. The majority of domains explore some legal aspects of that particular topic. The student needs to be aware there is virtually nothing that is done in the property markets that does not have some connection to legal considerations in one way or another.

    An important distinction between the approach in Property Knowledge and what is done in other texts is that the latter tend to look purely at real estate law, with little or no consideration of the implications of corporate law, securities law, appraisal law, labor law, and the myriad of other aspects of law that property enterprises inevitably interact with.

    In Property Knowledge more legal issues are covered than are generally encountered in other real estate textbooks with an emphasis on forces that influence legal issues, and to consider the consequences of the rules that govern property decisions.

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  • 6. What does Property Knowledge cover concerning careers?

    The text covers jobs that pertain to all the various categories of property activity, the forces that create demand for those jobs, and prospects for whether there may be more or fewer of those types of jobs in the future. The text explores the critical success factors for those different types of jobs and the compensation that can be made in those jobs. Students will learn about the rewards — both monetary and, especially important, non-monetary — of this field.

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  • 7. How does Property Knowledge differ from other principle textbooks in approaching the subject?

    Existing introductory to real estate principles textbooks emphasize four primary orientations in varying degrees:

    1. Residential real estate brokerage
    2. Legal treatment presented in separate, freestanding chapters
    3. Bias towards residential property
    4. Dominant orientation to local real estate rather than considering larger forces

    The approach taken in Property Knowledge reflects:

    1. All professional functions, not just residential brokerage
    2. All property types — not just residential
    3. Addressing the subject from the buy-side — consumers of property goods and services — as well as the sell-side — providers of property goods and services, which orientation tends to be the dominant of most existing textbooks.
    4. Concentrating on the important role of real estate as a factor of production in business enterprises.
    5. The strategy perspective as contrasted to a transactions perspective, without much attention to the larger context and ongoing process considerations, context, and factors that influence transactions.
    6. Consideration of motivations for transaction plus negotiating tactics to get the best deal.
    7. Addressing legal topics in an integrated manner, emphasizing the importance of considering the forces that influence legal aspects and their implications.
    8. Considering how technology has shaped the evolution of the property discipline.
    9. Considering explicitly the implications of social networks — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. — which are appropriately viewed as both complements to and substitutes for tangible property.
    10. Emphasis on the important implications of business arrangements and compensation structures, as they influence participants’ motivations and therefore behavior.

    Considering that working with a real estate broker is one of a number of ways properties can be sold — rather than concentrating exclusively on that form of transaction.

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  • 8. How was the content for Property Knowledge chosen?

    I have drawn upon my experience over several decades as a property analyst and strategy advisor for thousands of clients, concerning every aspect of the property markets — evaluating properties and property companies in over 100 countries, and working directly on the ground in some 20 countries — involving multiple trillion of dollars of property interests. Additionally, over the last two decades, I have completed three major studies concerning the content analysis of introductory real estate principles textbooks.

    In the early 1990s, I undertook a comprehensive content analysis study of all of the real estate principles texts, which was published in the Journal of Real Estate Literature. I found that the existing textbooks devoted disproportionate emphasis to legal aspects and real estate brokerage. Overall, there was more of an orientation to prepare people for a licensing examination in order to work as a real estate agent. While the functions of the real estate agent is very important, it is a part — not the totality — of what is involved in real estate.

    A few years ago, I revisited the original study. Shockingly, I found that the conditions discovered in the 1993 study had grown even worse. The collection of real estate textbooks had tilted even more towards the brokerage and technical legal emphasis. The sophistication of professional standards and practices, research and interest in a variety of important topics — ranging from securitization, to sustainability, to globalization, to spatial patterns, to migration, to market cycles, to workplace innovation and more — are significant forces in the contemporary real estate markets. Yet, these topics are hardly addressed in the real estate textbooks, given that so much publishing real estate is devoted to legal factors and brokerage.

    I recently performed this research study for a third time, to be published this year in the Journal of Real Estate Literature. The results are not that different than before. Some books have left the market, others have entered, but overall the market continues to be dominated by real estate textbooks with the legal/brokerage emphasis, devoting too little attention addressing the very important major topics.

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  • 9. Does Property Knowledge explore business and business decisions?


    Business real estate decisions cannot be effectively made absent the understanding of the overall strategy for business and the role of property in relationship to that business strategy.

    The same principles apply for a household. If you understand the family’s objectives concerning children’s education and activities, parents’ work, proximity to other family members and close relationships, for example, you can make much more informed property decisions.

    Prospectively, students who are exposed to strategy through Property Knowledge will bring greater appreciation for the scope and complexity of economics, generally, and the management discipline specifically. Strategic perspectives employed in Property Knowledge provide the means for students to appreciate the interdependency of the many factors that influence the outcomes of property involvements. The strategic approach can facilitate students organizing their learning, generally, and being able to comprehend the position of particular topics and subjects in the context.

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  • 10. This book seems to challenge traditional thinking. Is that intentional?


    The property discipline deserves to be regarded with the respect its stature merits.

    The message is that the property discipline is:

    • Important
    • Multi-faceted
    • Vast in dimension
    • Interacts with many things
    • Physical, natural and built/conceptual/financial/legal/strategic/social/behavioral

    The emphasis of Property Knowledge is on why and which, rather than merely the how and what. The focus on reasons why enables students to understand how certain strategies, methods, techniques that might be applied in one setting can be transferred to another setting. The concepts of systems interdependencies, strategy, and behavior are emphasized.

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  • 11. What learning resources are provided to the students beyond the textbook?


    The textbook is available in:

    • electronic form
    • audio format 
    •  scrolling text version  

    Additionally, summary videos will be provided.

    A most important element of the learning package is the documents resource sourcebook. The pertinent documents — rules and regulations, leases and contracts, professional reports, plans and proposals, and more — are provided, organized, and linked to each domain and section of the book.

    A collection of more than a 1,000 relevant Websites, geared to each domain and section of the book, shall also be provided.

    A student learning guide summarizing key points and providing sample questions shall be available to students. It will include outlines of materials and review sections with integrated testing of concepts that must clear before going on to the next session.

    All students will be provided membership in the Global Property Professional Society for two years following the course. Students completing the course with a designated level of accomplishment shall be awarded a Property Knowledge Honors Society certificate of recognition.

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  • 12. What teaching resources are available to support professors in using the Property Knowledge textbook?

    The support provided to professors includes:

    1. Alternative course outlines, depending upon emphasis desired and amount of homework favored. At least 20 different courses can be taught using Property Knowledge. The outlines and course summaries for these courses are on this website.
    2. Promotion campaign to help build class enrollments.
    3. PowerPoints for lectures.
    4. Text bank of 1,000+ questions. Sufficient numbers so professors can design quizzes about sections of the book, with many additional questions for exams.
    5. Access to Distinguished Property Lectures series, which can be used
      1. Within class
      2. Assigned as homework for students to review outside of class, or
      3. Made available broadly to the campus, encouraging students to participate in those programs as a supplement to their learning.
    6. Suggested exercises and projects geared for various segments of the text.
    7. Program with strategies and templates to assist creating a vertical real estate alumni association for your college or university.
    8. Research support from the community for your program.
    9. Program with strategies and templates to assist creating intern opportunities for your students.
    10. Teaching Mastermind: a monthly call to review major points and topics, share perspectives.
    11. Weekly call-in office hours with Dr. Roulac for your questions. This is accessible to all professors so they can learn from others’ questions and experiences. These shall be recorded and available on a proprietary Website section.
    12. Access to Right Place Journal and Reflections library, consisting of 4,000 entries, covering 2 million plus words, from spring 2001 through present. These are an extraordinary learning reference and research resource.
    13. Access to PlaceType, the innovative personality profile, essentially a Myers-Briggs of real estate, which will both fascinate your students and be a powerful adjunct to the learning process.

    Access to Lessons Learned Library. The Lessons Learned Library captures insights derived from several decades of advising some of the most successful entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and public officials —representing diverse segments of the property discipline — on thousands of engagements, concerning every aspect of the property and investing markets in more than 100 countries.

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  • 13. Who is this book not for?

    Property Knowledge is not a good book for a professor who:

    • Heavily emphasizes narrow real estate law aspects, treating them in isolation without considering their connection to larger real estate activities.
    • Is concerned predominantly with single-family housing and does not wish to consider other property types.
    • Is interested only in the local market perspectives and does not wish to be bothered with how larger forces of national politics, economic policy, technology innovation, globalization and the like may influence property decisions.
    • Is committed primarily to conventional real estate thinking, so is disinterested in how technology advances, social networks, globalization, migration, outsourcing, government spending priorities and deficits, pension funding and investing policies and other related issues may influence the property markets.
    • Perceives that the dominant discipline in real estate is residential brokerage, so does not want to spend much class time concerning financing and investing, corporate real estate, development strategies, deal making, place and property management.
    • Teaches the introductory real estate course primarily to prepare for a real estate broker’s license examination.
    • Prefers to treats real estate topics as separate and independent, rather than integrated and interdependent.

    Is essentially interested in the sell side of real estate, concerning those who provide services and sell properties, rather than the supply side, involving consumers of and decision makers concerning property goods and services.

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  • 1. What teaching experience has Dr. Stephen Roulac had concerning the subject of Property Knowledge?

    I have taught courses concerning the contents of Property Knowledge at:

    • Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
    • Department of Architecture, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley
    • Hastings College of the Law
    • Stanford Graduate School of Business
    • UCLA Graduate School of Management
    • University of California, Davis School of Management

    These courses address topics integral to Property Knowledge including:

    • Introduction to Urban Land Economics
    • Real Estate Finance
    • Real Estate Appraisal
    • Real Estate Securities
    • Real Estate Law
    • Property Development and Investment Strategy
    • Place and Property Strategy
    • Legal Economics

    Additionally, I have taught courses in accounting, finance, management control, management, and business strategy.

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  • 2. Do you draw upon your professional experience in what you address in Property Knowledge?


    Having been active in virtually every phase of the global property markets, working in every metro of consequence in every state, plus large land holdings and prominent new communities both globally and domestically, I have been fortunate to have had extraordinary exposure, most probably like no other property advisor and certainly unmatched by any academic. In this regard, James Graaskamp and I are the only two academics named as recipients of the Millennium Award in 1999 by the University of California, Berkeley, recognizing those 100 individuals who had the most influence upon the real estate industry in the 20th century.

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  • 3. How did you incorporate this experience-based perspective into Property Knowledge?

    First, from the broad exposure that my team and I have in advising some of the savviest entrepreneurs, most dedicated public officials, and brightest property professionals, we have developed a very special awareness of issues, sensitivity to their nuance and a sensibility to their implications. In thinking of the structure and presentation, specifically how deciding what is to be covered and how coverage is to be organized, and particular elements to emphasize, I drew upon the range, breadth, and knowledge that we have encountered in the very privileged insider status of our professional work.

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  • 4. How did you incorporate your extensive professional experience and entrepreneurial background in designing the structure of Property Knowledge?

    The nature of our work affords us an insider perspective that few could ever gain. In particular, because of our considerable work on major strategy assignments as well as litigation work, we have unparallel access to information that would be inaccessible to anyone who is not directly involved in those circumstances.

    From interacting with numerous property organizations, their leadership, staff, professional advisors, directors, consultants, we had gained access to highly preparatory strategies, business models, and intellectual property. From that we have developed a fascinating collection of insights.

    In the course of working closely with clients on these engagements to address their decisions and problems, we initiated analytics and discovery research, which we draw upon in Property Knowledge. Some of that significant original research has been published, many of these papers have been recognized as among the best papers to be presented at the American Real Estate Society meetings and also peer reviewed journals with those findings adapted directly into Property Knowledge. Additionally, we include a number of research studies, some for clients and some for our own knowledge advancement, which heretofore have not been published.

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  • 5. As you have been an entrepreneur from the beginning, does that perspective inform your Property Knowledge?


    From leading an entrepreneurial firm involved in advisory services, proprietary resources and investment management, we have gained extraordinary insights that are distilled in Property Knowledge.

    And, as my firm and I have been actively involved as consumers of property goods and services on the buy side, I draw directly on what we have learned from those roles. It is fair to say that I probably have had much more extensive and significant involvement in the property markets than most academics who might author an introductory textbook.

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  • 6. How did you get involved in the property business?

    My property experience commenced working in my family’s building construction and development business. I started out working in construction labor and over the years performed virtually every function involved in the building and development business: leasing, property management, purchasing, running crews and supervising construction, project planning and more.

    Later, I worked in market research, auditing, tax consulting, and investment analysis. Beyond my extensive advisory roles, I have bought and sold a number of properties, organized investment groups, managed real estate development, negotiated leases, arranged financing, planned and implemented building projects, designed and produced research services. Along the way, I have founded and built a number of businesses, met payrolls, acquired and merged companies, and pursued disputes through significant litigation, winning large damages awards.

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  • 7. Since you have had extensive experience working for the largest investors, interacting with some of the most significant properties, companies and portfolios in the world, is the orientation of Property Knowledge at such a high level that my students would not be able to connect with, or even understand, what is covered?

    Not at all.

    The presentation is accessible to anyone who can read a newspaper. Yes, major scale topics and issues are covered, because many of the forces that shape these properties, property interests, portfolios and enterprises also shape all other properties and property interests. And, the techniques that are applicable at the larger scale transactions readily apply to smaller transactions.

    At the same time, much of the presentation is oriented to a personal, relatable scale. So for every large transaction and involvement that is covered, discussed, and explored, a companion smaller-scale transaction is considered. As a case in point, in the section concerning compensation that might be realized from real estate ventures, the circumstances of how a broker might make a million dollar commission check are described. In the immediately following paragraphs, a more detailed coverage is devoted to a hard working broker who puts together a deal for which the commission check is $800.

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  • 1. What is your vision for the Introductory Real Estate Principles Course?

    My vision is that the Introduction to Real Estate course will be the best course that students take in their undergraduate years. If students have a great learning experience in their first real estate course, they will want to learn more, embody the lessons, and take those lessons with them in their lives beyond this course. This can enrich their lives, individually, but it can have transformative effects on everyone with whom they interact. Some students who had already decided to pursue a real estate career will do so with a different sensibility, intentionality, and level of aspiration, than they might have prior to taking this class. Others who may not have considered a real estate career may decide to pursue a career in real estate.

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  • 2. Is this text designed primarily for a course intended for students who have already decided to pursue a real estate career?


    Although everyone who majors in real estate would start with this text, this text is designed for every student. While 2% of all college graduates major in economics, 20 times that number — some 40% — take an economics class before they graduate. The same idea applies to the Property Knowledge course. The majority of students would benefit from the perspective of Property Knowledge.

    The biggest and most important audience, however, is comprised of those individuals who will not work in real estate, but rather will have richer, deeper, more meaningful and more rewarding lives because of what they learn in this course. My vision is to enable every individual to be more effective in his or her interactions with places and properties.

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  • 3. How does Property Knowledge appeal to students who are not already interested in real estate?

    It appeals to these students by clearly describing how property relates to every aspect of life, including work, opportunities, and relationships. Property is intricately related to:

    • The future of our planet.
    • Where students might live or work.
    • The biggest expenditure they will likely make in their lives.
    • How their place choices will influence their futures.
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  • 4. Does Property Knowledge presume any prerequisite courses?


    The text is designed so anyone — from freshmen to seniors — can benefit.

    Students get exposed to several related disciplines: economics, business, finance, marketing, engineering, psychology, political science. After taking this course, students may decide that they want to learn something more about those subjects, and then could take further courses in those subjects.

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  • 5. Do students need to be really into STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — to get the message of Property Knowledge?

    Not at all.

    Property Knowledge is written so that students of any background, including specifically those who are not particularly oriented to math or science, can readily grasp the message. We are confident that students will be both engaged and stretched by the ideas and concepts that they shall encounter in Property Knowledge.

    Property Knowledge is readily accessible to all students, including those that are not drawn to STEM subjects. Research has shown that just 10% of high school graduates are interested in a college major or a career that involves STEM topics. Property Knowledge is written in a way that students without strong math backgrounds need not be off put or intimidated. The text does not shy away from math, but walks through the math in a clear and understandable way. At the same time, there are ways for those with analytic inclinations to pursue topics in more depth. But this inclination is not a requirement to learn and master this material.

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  • 6. Does this approach to make Property Knowledge widely accessible means you have dumbed down the content?

    Not at all. In our work we strive to present sophisticated concepts in ways that can be widely understood. Indeed, this is the very attribute of elegant economics.

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