Program Experience

Highlights and Key Outcomes

In Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets in the Era of COVID-19, you will:

  • Learn about various sectors of commercial real estate and the different options for investing in them
  • Analyze how to navigate the short- and long-term disruptions in the commercial real estate industry
  • Understand how to balance risk and return in real estate investments in an economy impacted by COVID-19
  • Gain clarity and confidence around evaluating potential real estate investment partners and opportunities
  • Explore the drivers of real estate markets and discover how to invest and manage risk globally based on the political response to COVID-19
  • Determine how best to fit real estate into an overall investment strategy

Risks & Pitfalls: This program explores some of the risks of investing in real estate.

Experience & Impact

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the commercial real estate landscape. Overnight, the social and economic cost of people being close together has gone up. What was once prized in commercial real estate — population density, access to premium downtown locations, center city business districts, and transportation hubs — now can be a liability. Unlike other industries that can retool a manufacturing line or discontinue a product or service, commercial real estate cannot pivot or revamp its business model quickly.

Some commercial real estate sectors, such as shopping malls and office buildings, were under tremendous pressure even before the pandemic hit. The weight of that pressure has dramatically increased during the ongoing COVID-19 onslaught. Meanwhile, some sectors of commercial real estate such as logistics, cloud kitchens, and data centers have been the beneficiaries of the pandemic as a new (and in some cases permanent) work-from-home status drives exponential growth for online shopping, virtual collaboration, and contactless delivery of food and other everyday items.

To understand the investment risks and opportunities that will emerge from this new world order, you will need to be prepared and well informed to interpret the data and understand the demographic changes that are adding another layer to the investment equation.

Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets in the Era of COVID-19 provides you with a complete picture of the pros and cons of the various ways to invest in commercial real estate in today’s radically changing landscape. This program is particularly relevant for institutional investors and financial advisors to high-net-worth clients. Participants will become more discerning evaluators of offers and opportunities in the U.S. and globally. Beyond just improving your awareness of common investing pitfalls, you will also discover how to make real estate a more valuable slice of your client’s or institution’s diversified investment portfolio.

The Wharton faculty, who are the leading minds in real estate today, will explore the fundamental concepts around different commercial real estate asset classes, such as hotels, apartment buildings, shopping centers, and office buildings, and the varied economic forces that drive their returns. The effect of location — including cities, countries, coasts, and neighborhoods and their distinct risk and return characteristics — will also be covered. You will investigate many real estate investment strategies: direct investment, investing in public equity, lending to real estate, investing in real estate debt, or investing in a company or private equity firm that is itself investing in real estate. The advantages and drawbacks of each will be thoroughly discussed, as well as the unique risks that accompany each approach. You will also hone your skills around global real estate investment, including diversifying your investments across countries, finding local partners, and assessing and hedging currency risks.

Participants will discover how best to incorporate commercial real estate into their overall investment strategy. The current state of the U.S. and global real estate market will be discussed, and you will grasp the nuances of managing risk during boom and bust periods. Interactive exercises, case studies, and small-group breakouts make for engaging and thought-provoking sessions.

As a result of attending this program, you will gain a deeper understanding of the concepts, terminology, strategies, and opportunities that will enable you to confidently add both domestic and global real estate to your investment portfolio.

Global Perspective: Learn what to look for when investing globally.

Wharton LIVE Programming

Real-time, synchronous peer learning

The live virtual version of Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets in the Era of COVID-19 will be delivered online daily for five days. It will be taught by the same Wharton faculty who teach in the on-campus program and it requires a high level of participant engagement.

Participants will have direct access to Wharton faculty throughout the program, and will engage in dynamic group work that helps reinforce the learning and enable networking within the peer community.

A highlight of the live virtual program is a roster of distinguished CRE industry speakers who will share their perspective on what they are currently witnessing in the market. Guest speakers will be drawn from various sectors of the CRE industry to provide a nuanced and well-rounded view of what is happening in the industry right now and look ahead to the still uncertain future.

Program Duration:

  • Sep. 28 – Oct. 2, 2020
    9:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. EDT (most days)

Building Your Network

This program will also include opportunities for you to get to know the other participants and build your professional network. These sessions include:

  • Wharton After Hours
    Wharton faculty will lead an online discussion board that moves beyond the day’s content into global current events. Think of it as faculty office hours but online.

Download Full Program Schedule

Session topics include:

  • Growth, Booms, and Risk
  • Commercial Real Estate Risk and Returns
  • Differences Across Property Sectors
  • Portfolio Allocation to Real Estate
  • Public Investment and Private Equity Investment
  • Real Estate Debt Investments
  • Global Real Estate

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Listen to Faculty Interview:

Professor Todd Sinai talks about Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets in the Era of COVID-19 in this interview on Wharton Business Radio, SiriusXM.

Convince Your Supervisor

Here’s a justification letter you can edit and send to your supervisor to help you make the case for attending this Wharton program.

Who Should Attend

Professor Todd Sinai on the classroom experience.

This program is designed for those who invest large amounts of capital, such as institutional investors and financial advisors, who do not have a background specifically in real estate but who need to acquire or enhance their understanding of the sector or need a refresher on emerging real estate trends. This program is not for commercial real estate brokers, real estate developers, or other professionals whose primary focus is on the acquisition, construction, financing, or selling of commercial real estate.

Ideally, participants should already have a grasp of concepts such as net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), free cash flow, discounted cash flow analysis, return on investment, and cost of capital. Familiarity with Microsoft Excel is expected.

Some of the job functions and roles include:

  • Asset managers and chief investment officers for large publicly traded or privately held corporations and institutions such as pension funds, university endowments, and foundations
  • Sovereign wealth fund professionals
  • Family office representatives and other private wealth advisors to ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families
  • CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals who advise institutional investors

Additionally, this program provides an excellent learning opportunity for ultra-high-net-worth investors who are frequently pitched commercial real estate investment deals and wish to be better educated in the subject.

Plan your stay in Philadelphia

Plan Your Stay

This program is held at the Steinberg Conference Center located on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. Meals and accommodations are included in the program fees. Learn more about planning your stay at Wharton’s Philadelphia campus.

Group Enrollment

To further leverage the value and impact of this program, we encourage companies to send cross-functional teams of executives to Wharton. We offer group enrollment benefits to companies sending four or more participants.


Todd Sinai

Todd Sinai, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

David B. Ford Professor; Professor of Real Estate; Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy; Chairperson, Real Estate Department, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Commercial real estate and real estate investment trusts, real estate and public economics, risk and pricing in housing markets, taxation of real estate and capital gains

Gilles Duranton

Gilles Duranton, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Dean's Chair in Real Estate Professor, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Urban economics and transportation economics

Joseph Gyourko

Joseph Gyourko, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Martin Bucksbaum Professor; Professor of Real Estate; Professor of Finance; Professor of Business Economics & Public Policy; Nancy A. Nasher and David Haemisegger Director of the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center

Research Interests: Housing markets, real estate finance and real estate economics

Asuka Nakahara

Asuka Nakahara, MBASee Faculty Bio

Lecturer, Associate Director of the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center, The Wharton School

Bilge Yilmaz

Bilge Yilmaz, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Wharton Private Equity Professor; Professor of Finance; Academic Director, Joshua J. Harris Alternative Investments Program, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Corporate finance, alternative investments, game theory, political economy

Maisy Wong

Maisy Wong, PhDSee Faculty Bio

James T. Riady Associate Professor of Real Estate; Assistant Director, Grayken Program in International Real Estate, Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Development economics, real estate economics, urban economics


The Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets program was timely and just right for me to learn more about this alternative asset class. We were in the midst of developing a product program for the launch of our real estate fund, and this program was perfect to help us complete our product launch. We needed to go deeply into the many real estate investment strategies such as lending, direct investments, public equities, etc. and to better grasp the advantages and drawbacks of each.

Attending the program provided us with the necessary tools, concepts, and strategies. We’ve gained clarity and confidence prior to rolling out our real estate fund. I returned to my organization with the critical insights and frameworks to structure our funds for the long run.

I also came out of the program equipped with new strategies to enhance operational efficiencies, to create value through improvements in operations, and to analyze a pro forma. I gained a better understanding of how critical the capital structure is in real estate, and to slice and dice the capital stack.

The session on what investors look at when going to countries outside of their home country was particularly valuable to me: understanding macro factors that make investors jittery such as a country’s foreign debt, foreign currency reserves, current account, and other factors. Moreover, the sessions on the changing face of real estate in cities, private equity investing, and property investing were all highly insightful and of immense value.

The high caliber of both the faculty and the participants contributed much to the learning experience. The faculty’s broad range of expertise enabled them to take academic lessons and apply them to the real world. My peers were experienced and knowledgeable, which enhanced the interaction inside as well as outside the classroom."

Jorge QuintanillaCEO, Capital Safi, La Paz, Bolivia

I found Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets to be extremely helpful in understanding the metrics and evaluation tools used to assess commercial real estate investing opportunities for my real estate holdings family office. Learning about various formulae that weigh initial capital costs against future revenues, while suggesting the appropriate rents for various regions, were highlights of the course for me. I also learned a great deal about how REITs and other real estate investment trusts are structured, and how real estate bonds are structured and rated for risk. Finally, we learned about how real estate in rural markets varies from cities, and how to manage currency risk for foreign real estate investments.

The faculty in Assessing Commercial Real Estate are simply amazing. Todd Sinai was fantastic; he patiently explained all of the basics of real estate investing and made some of the more complex subjects easy to understand. Maisy Wong’s global real estate cross-border investment strategy, and her discussion of how to hedge currency exposure, was simply brilliant. I also really enjoyed Asuka Nakahara’s speech about how to profit in real estate and learned a lot about how scale and location have a dramatic effect on the viability of real estate investment opportunities. I really enjoyed all of the faculty members and guest speakers, but these specific speakers had the most impact on my learning, and are therefore the most memorable for me.

The Assessing Commercial Real Estate program had an immediate impact on my real estate investment business. We immediately raised rents (where possible) to align our rents with the capital investments we’ve made based on the “cap rate” formula I learned in the course. Additionally, the course has realigned how we assess future opportunities, while giving us the tools to conduct a more thorough evaluation. I just can’t say enough about how enlightening the course was for me. I would highly suggest this course for anyone venturing into real estate investing. I sincerely believe that the money saved on your first real estate deal will easily pay for the course.”

Andrew K. DaviesManaging Member, Think Holdings, LLC, Coral Springs, Florida

My company provides analytics for clients on the buy side and sell side of Wall Street. We deal with the analysis of securitized products, which have a number of different underlying products including commercial mortgage-backed securities. So in that respect we deal with real estate.

The program was terrific and really well structured. It covered all aspects of assessing and analyzing real estate investments. You gain an understanding of the risks and other aspects of real estate investment whether domestic or international. The lead professor, Todd Sinai, explained in detail about commercial real estate, real estate investment trusts, risk and pricing in housing markets, and taxation.

I really enjoyed Asuka Nakahara’s discussion of how to analyze real estate as a regular individual, whether it’s buying a home or investing as a general partner into apartments, for example. Another big takeaway for me was pro forma modeling and analyzing: we looked at a number of scenarios — different economic conditions — and modeled how a real estate investment would perform.

Also among my most valuable takeaways was an understanding of the risks and regulations involved in global investment. Maisy Wong brought us the global perspective, which was really an eye-opener for people who were not aware of some of the considerations of investing in other countries. Another important learning I acquired was how to identify an impending real estate crash. I appreciate having that perspective now.

I have already adopted some of the techniques from the program in my everyday work. For a couple of clients for whom I’m analyzing their investments, I have been able to identify risk factor scenarios and risk analysis of various traded instruments. And I have a fuller understanding of the different factors that affect the risk analysis of the products my company buys and sells.

Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets was a very good program for anyone who wants to use real estate as an investment vehicle. I recommend it highly.”

Sanjay RajaramPresident, ImagineSys Inc., Princeton, New Jersey

I am an angel investor, helping communities set up businesses. I help them with funds, advisory services, and business development. I own some real estate properties in Canada, the U.S., and China — that’s another part of my business — and for quite some time I’ve been wanting to get more involved in the real estate industry.

Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets was an excellent program and was exactly what I was looking for. It helped me in many different areas. I am trying to extend my investments from residential to commercial, and it really helped me understand the big picture of the commercial real estate market. I appreciated learning more about different sectors such as apartment buildings, retail, and industrial.

Another important area for me was ROI and risk analysis. I gained more insight into business ROI so I can measure and quantify my investments in more detail. While I have used traditional risk analysis tools in this space, the course expanded my vision into using other valuable tools.

The professors, along with many of my classmates, provided me with a better understanding of market trends. This helped me define my next step in real estate investing. The program had a big impact on my business plan: I immediately changed my investment portfolio, and I purchased some REITs. Even when the stock market dropped recently, my REITs did pretty well. I have also decided to move some of my Canadian apartment building investments to the U.S., which is important to my plan.

Todd Sinai was a great course leader. Professors like him and Joseph Gyourko not only have plenty of knowledge and theory in this space, but they are successful and experienced in real estate themselves. The program was very practical and real world.”

Jacky ChenInvestor and Business Advisor, York Angel Investors, Toronto, Canada

I am a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics, so my professional job has no direct relationship with real estate. But I wanted to attend Assessing Commercial Real Estate Investments and Markets to understand the principles of real estate investment. I learned a lot from the program. It conveyed important information such as how to focus on the risk first, and how to use different techniques to project the profits and returns.

The faculty were terrific. There is a reason these individuals get to teach at Wharton! The academic director, Todd Sinai, was very knowledgeable and friendly. He did a great job of bringing together all these excellent professors and selecting topics that covered every major area of real estate investing. The most interesting parts of the course for me were the talks by Maisy Wong, who discussed international real estate investment. That really helped me open my mind and gave me a very good, real sense of how to do global investment.

The concepts, knowledge, and skills taught in this course go beyond real estate to other investment areas, such as how to foresee and control risk, how to assess an offer and the return, and how to develop personal relationships in order to improve your investments. The most important part of the program for me was it emphasized that in the end, it’s all about the people: your partners, clients, and contractors.

On a 1-10 scale I would give this program a 9. I want to congratulate Wharton for offering such a wonderful course.”

Song Liu, PhDDirector of Bioinformatics, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, New York

Date, Location, & Fees

November 30 – December 4, 2020LIVE Virtual$5,500

Download the program schedule, including session details.

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Fees for Philadelphia on-campus programs include accommodations and meals.

Prices are subject to change.

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