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History + Vision + Mission

In the mid 1980s the University began offering graduate level real estate courses. These courses raised awareness of an industry that was rapidly developing and helping bring Seattle onto the national stage. The late eighties saw the launch of the non-degree certificate program in commercial real estate.

A cornerstone gift from Jon and Judy Runstad helped to establish the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in 2002. The center initially focused upon extending the range of graduate courses and developing both its academic and industry-facing research program.  This led to the launch of the Masters of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) degree program in 2009.

Since its inception, the MSRE program has seen over 150 students graduate. Combining academic rigor and commercial relevance, the program prepares the real estate leaders of tomorrow through an innovative, interdisciplinary program. Students have the opportunity to learn about development, finance & investment and corporate real estate.

The research capabilities of the Runstad Center were enhanced in 2012 by the transfer of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER) from Washington State University to the University of Washington. WCRER provides a focal point for our applied industry-facing research, including the regular housing reports produced for the State of Washington.

In 2017, the center became the Runstad Department of Real Estate within the College of Built Environments. The attainment of departmental status  highlights the commitment and ambition at the University of Washington to develop a world-leading center of excellence in real estate, research, and education.

A major gift from the Jacobi family (founders of Windermere Real Estate) allowed the department to recruit three additional full-time tenure-track faculty in 2017 and establish an undergraduate minor in real estate in 2018.


Our vision:

Leveraging the strengths of the University of Washington and our location in a global hub of innovation, we aspire to be a leader addressing key real estate and built environment challenges.

Our mission is to:

  • educate future real estate professionals
  • produce research relevant to scholarly and industry audiences as well as the broader society
  • engage the community in addressing the challenges of creating and sustaining the built environment through real estate investment, development and management.

To achieve our vision and mission we aim to:

  • provide a globally relevant, interdisciplinary educational experience that combines the rigor and learning experience expected of a world class academic institution with career enhancing applied skills.
  • produce high impact innovative research that addresses the challenges facing real estate, the broader built environment and society.
  • be thought leaders providing an intellectual hub that takes the lead in the examination of developing trends and issues.