The University of Washington began to offer graduate-level real estate courses in the mid-1980s. A cornerstone gift from Jon and Judy Runstad helped to establish the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in 2002. The center initially focused on extending the range of graduate courses and developing an academic and industry-facing research program. This led to the launch of the Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) degree program in 2009. Combining academic rigor and industry relevance, the program currently prepares future generations of real estate professionals with key foundation concepts and applied work for their future careers. Students have the opportunity to learn about development, finance and investment, corporate real estate, and housing. The program now has over 200 graduates.
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 applied research, including regular housing reports produced for the State of Washington.
In 2017, the Runstad Center became the Runstad Department of Real Estate within the College of Built Environments. The attainment of departmental status highlights the commitment and ambition of the University of Washington to develop a world-leading center of excellence in real estate education and research.
A major gift from the Jacobi family (founders of Windermere Real Estate) allowed the department to recruit three housing focused full-time tenure-track faculty in 2017 and establish an undergraduate minor in real estate in 2018. This was followed by the establishment of an undergraduate major in academic year 2020-2021. Enrollment in the major quickly expanded to over 250 students by the Spring Quarter 2023.
Following the appointment of Steven Bourassa as a permanent department chair in 2022, the department decided to undertake a formal strategic planning process to guide its development over the coming years. This document represents the result of that process: