Real Estate Finance and Investments Certification

REFAI is a rigorous online educational self-study program focused on practical, high-impact outcomes.
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The Real Estate Finance and Investments Certification (REFAI) from Linneman Associates and REFM is a rigorous educational self-study program focused on practical, high-impact outcomes for its candidates. The backbone of REFAI is the 5th Edition of Real Estate Finance and Investments: Risks and Opportunities, “the Blue Bible of real estate,” authored by Dr. Peter Linneman and Bruce Kirsch.

REFAI is delivered on a state of the art learning platform

REFAI is accessible on your desktop, laptop, tablet and phone.

What REFAI Candidates Are Saying

The course is a complete program with both the technical side of the real estate science and the reasoning side. Moreover, the customer service and the quality of digital content are outstanding. I'm thrilled with the program.- Benjamin Duenas, Rome, Italy
The course is outstanding and the content is great. I didn’t expect the amount of accountability associated with passing but think it’s awesome. I’m taking the class in order to learn how to invest my own money, so I take it very seriously. Great job!- Carter Ransom
Overall I am enjoying the course. I specifically I like how the videos reinforce the concepts from the book. The guidance for learning in a prescribed order across the various media and quizzes results in an effective program.- Sam Mishra

REFAI is an exploration of the key concepts of real estate finance and investment strategy, not a mere formulaic analysis of numbers designed to give you “the answer” to any and all real estate investment decisions. Holding the REFAI Certification signifies the ability to proficiently apply proven, trusted analytical frameworks to real world problems.

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REFAI. Created Just For You.

Looking to get into commercial real estate, move up faster or go out on your own?

REFAI can help move you along in your career if you are a:

Current student or recent graduate
Financial analyst or associate
Investment sales or leasing broker
Land use or transaction attorney
Real estate entrepreneur
Construction executive
Current student or recent graduate
Investment sales or leasing broker
Real estate entrepreneur
Financial analyst or associate
Land use or transaction attorney
Construction executive

Program Overview

The overarching goals of the program are to provide candidates with a solid theoretical and technical grounding in real estate finance and investments, and to make candidates more critical thinkers with respect to the business of real estate across all property and transaction types, setting them up for success in the workplace.

The REFAI Program

The REFAI program curriculum is equal to that of “Real Estate Finance and Investment Analysis 101” semester-long courses delivered in the traditional classroom format in top MBA and Masters in real estate programs.

The backbone of REFAI is the 5th Edition of the textbook Real Estate Finance and Investments: Risks and Opportunities, “the Blue Bible of real estate,” authored by Dr. Peter Linneman and Bruce Kirsch. In circulation for 15 years and based on his Wharton classes, the book reflects Dr. Linneman’s frustration with texts that concentrate excessively on theoretical detail and literature, while ignoring important aspects of financial analysis and decision making. This book balances the “real world” aspects of real estate finance without compromising key theoretical underpinnings. It covers the basic mathematics of real estate finance and investments, while stressing the ambiguity of decision making.

The book, and the REFAI program by extension, is an exploration of the key concepts of real estate finance and investment strategy, not a mere formulaic analysis of numbers designed to give you “the answer” to any and all real estate investment decisions.

Holding the REFAI Certification signifies proficiency in this material and the ability to apply that knowledge by overlaying sound analytical frameworks on real world problems. Candidates must earn a minimum passing grade of 70% to complete the requirements for the Program and receive the Certification. Candidates are forewarned that this grade depends upon their performance and passing is not guaranteed.

Content Highlights

The rigorous REFAI Certification Program examines:
  • Basic financial analysis and metrics
  • Dynamic financial modeling in Excel
  • Selection of discount and capitalization rates
  • Dynamic financial modeling in Excel
  • Development feasibility
  • Lease negotiation
  • Preferred return, promote and catch-up structures
  • Corporate rent versus own decisions
  • Owner exit strategies
  • Investing internationally
  • Dynamic financial modeling in Excel
  • Valuation of properties subject to ground leases
  • REITs
  • Going public as a real estate company
  • Real estate entrepreneurship

Skills Objectives

Upon completion, REFAI Certification Holders will be able to perform in Excel:
  • Forecasting property income and expense cash flows
  • Building a mortgage payment schedule with an Interest-Only component
  • Calculating IRR and NPV
  • Allocating construction costs according to a bell-shaped curve
  • Valuing a ground-up development site on a residual basis
  • Forecasting an asset’s future stabilized Net Operating Income
  • Performing sensitivity analyses around the driving variables in a transaction
  • Calculating loan interest for multiple layers of debt financing
  • Evaluating whether a corporation should own or rent facilities.

Format & Time Commitment

In addition to reading the textbook, candidates will learn on the online course platform through various media, including recorded video and audio lectures, spreadsheet modeling exercises, multiple choice quizzes and exams.

This program requires 120-160 hours to complete the course content, and complete the exercises, quizzes, midterm and final exams. Lifetime access is provided to all course materials.

The Course Textbook

A comprehensive look at real estate finance and investments, and also development. But perhaps more importantly, it is written in a way that is clear, direct, and immensely practical to the actual world of real estate.

Brandon Donnelly, real estate developer with MA in architecture

Real Estate Finance and Investments: Risks and Opportunities

Authors: Peter Linneman, PhD and Bruce Kirsch

Current Edition: Fifth

First Published: 2003

Length: 457 pages

Chapters: 26

University Adoptions: 125+

Unique Features:

  • Chapter 1 available as an audiobook
  • Hands-on Excel modeling exercises integrated throughout
  • Chapters on Due Diligence and Corporate Real Estate
  • ARGUS platform overview.

Testing & Assignments

  • Online quizzes for each of the 12 Modules are open book, subject to a 15-minute time limit
  • Midterm and final exam are open book, subject to a 90-minute time limit
  • All quizzes may be taken more than once, and all provide correct answers and commentary once taken
  • Across the 30 quizzes and exams, candidates will answer more than 500 questions
  • There are 2 optional case studies for completion.

Example quiz questions and answer commentary

REFAI is the only course that includes use of SpreadsheetGrader, a revolutionary teaching tool that gives instant feedback on Excel modeling exercises.

There are more than 500 quiz and exam questions in the course, making REFAI the most comprehensive program available. All quiz question solutions are given after you complete a quiz. There are also optional duplicate review quizzes that are ungraded, which you can use an unlimited number of times to study for the midterm and final.

Meet the Instructors

Peter Linneman, PhD
CEO of Linneman Associates

For over 40 years, Dr. Peter Linneman’s unique blend of scholarly rigor and practical business insight has won him accolades from around the world, including PREA’s prestigious Graaskamp Award for Real Estate Research, Wharton’s Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Realty Stock Magazine’s Special Achievement Award, being named “One of the 25 Most Influential People in Real Estate” by Realtor Magazine and inclusion in The New York Observer’s “100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate”.

After receiving both his Masters and Doctorate in Economics under the tutelage of Nobel Prize winners Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, George Stigler, Ted Schultz and Jim Heckman, Peter had a distinguished academic career at both The University of Chicago and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. For 35 years, he was a leading member of Wharton’s faculty, serving as the Albert Sussman Professor of Real Estate, Finance and Public Policy as well as the Founding Chairman of the Real Estate Department and Director of the prestigious Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center.

During this time, he was co-editor of The Wharton Real Estate Review. In addition, he published over 100 scholarly articles, four editions of the acclaimed book Real Estate Finance and Investments: Risks and Opportunities, and the widely read Linneman Letter quarterly report.

Peter’s long and ongoing business career is highlighted by his roles as Founding Principal of Linneman Associates, a leading real estate advisory firm; CEO of American Land Fund; and CEO of KL Realty. For more than 35 years, he has advised leading corporations and served on over 20 public and private boards, including serving as Chairman of Rockefeller Center Properties, where he led the successful restructuring and sale of Rockefeller Center in the mid-1990s.

Although retired from Wharton’s faculty, Dr. Linneman continues his commitment to education through his Save A Mind, Give A Choice educational charity for orphans and children of extreme poverty in rural Kenya. He has been married for over 40 years and is an exercise enthusiast.

Bruce Kirsch
CEO of Real Estate
Financial Modeling

As the founder of Real Estate Financial Modeling (REFM), Bruce Kirsch has trained thousands of students and professionals around the world in Excel-based projection analysis. In addition, REFM’s self-study products, Excel-based templates and its Valuate® property valuation and investment analysis software are used by more than 100,000 professionals. Mr. Kirsch’s firm has assisted with modeling for the raising of billions of dollars of equity and debt for individual property acquisitions and developments, as well as for major mixed-use projects and private equity funds. Mr. Kirsch has also maintained a blog on real estate financial modeling, Model for Success, authoring more than 500 posts.

Mr. Kirsch began his real estate career at CB Richard Ellis, where he marketed highrise New York City office buildings for re-development in the Midtown Manhattan Investment Properties Institutional Group. After CBRE, Mr. Kirsch was recruited to lead acquisitions at Metropolis Development Company, and later joined The Clarett Group, a programmatic development partner of Prudential.

While at The Clarett Group, Mr. Kirsch was responsible for making development site recommendations for office, condominium and multi-family properties in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. In addition, Mr. Kirsch had significant day-to-day project management responsibilities for the entitlement, financing and marketing of the company’s existing D.C.-area development portfolio.

Mr. Kirsch holds an MBA in Real Estate from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Kahn/Washington Real Estate Investment Trust Award for academic excellence. Prior to Wharton, Mr. Kirsch performed quantitative equity research on the technology sector at The Capital Group Companies. Mr. Kirsch served as an Adjunct Faculty member in real estate finance at Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. Mr. Kirsch graduated with a BA in Communication from Stanford University.

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Pricing and Materials

REFAI pricing is USD $1,499 for professionals, and USD $599 for current students and academic faculty/staff.

Yes, the cost of the hardcopy textbook and shipping are included in the cost.

Yes, we offer the chance to pay for the course over time through Affirm. You can apply for this option during the checkout process.

No, as each individual candidate must pass quizzes and exams tied to their username, and the quizzes and exams are not accessible again once taken by a candidate.

No, the videos are streaming only. You must have a stable broadband Internet connection to view them without experiencing interruptions and file buffering.

No, the book is provided to you in hard copy only. The book is not offered in PDF.

No, you have lifetime access to everything.

No. A hard copy of the Fifth Edition is included in the registration cost and will be shipped to you, wherever you are in the world.

If you already have the Fifth Edition of the book, you can get a $149 discount. To be granted a coupon code for the discount, please contact us at refai@getrefm.com.

Yes. The course content is tied directly to the Fifth Edition of the book, which is majorly enhanced and updated from prior editions.

Course Design

No, as each individual candidate must pass quizzes and exams tied to their username, and the quizzes and exams are not accessible again once taken by a candidate.

It applies to both. A key chapter on projection modeling uses an apartment building as the case study.

No. The course is self-paced, and you have lifetime access to it.

In addition to reading the textbook, candidates will learn on the online course platform through various media, including recorded video and audio lectures, spreadsheet modeling exercises, multiple choice quizzes and exams.

This program requires 120-160 hours to complete the course content, and complete the exercises, quizzes, midterm and final exams. Lifetime access is provided to all course materials.

You are welcome to take the course just for your own educational enrichment if you wish.

Yes, the learning platform is optimized for phones and tablets. However, we recommend working on Excel on a desktop or laptop for the best experience.

Any computer purchased in the last 5 years, and Excel 2013 or more recent. For best results, we recommend using Google Chrome as your web browser.

The course is available on-demand, 24/7/365. All of the videos have been produced in a studio environment and edited to achieve the highest production value.

There is an online course forum, with discussion monitored and responded to by Bruce Kirsch, one of the course creators and textbook authors.

No, you have lifetime access to everything.

Yes, in your learner profile you have a list of all of the quizzes and links to view the quiz and answer explanations.

The course is tough but fair. It is designed for some portion of candidates to fail on their first attempt. That’s what makes passing it and earning the Certification valuable.

REFAI is the equivalent of a semester-long “Real Estate Finance and Investment Analysis 101” course given in a traditional university setting. REFM’s Excel for Real Estate Certifications are short-format tutorials focused solely on technical skills in Excel as they apply to real estate analyses.

If you have already earned any of Level 1, 2 or 3 Excel for Real Estate Certification and do not wish to repeat the content and exam in the course, please email refai@getrefm.com to be verified and automatically passed through the relevant lesson(s) and quiz(zes).

No, it is much more. This course is the equivalent of a semester-long “Real Estate Finance and Investment Analysis 101” course given in a traditional university setting. Financial modeling is one aspect of the course, and a critical one, but one of many. The full syllabus and textbook contents can be viewed here.

To pass the course, you must achieve an average score of 70% or better across the entire set of graded quizzes, midterm and final exam. To pass With Distinction, you must achieve an average score of 85% or better.

You can be a complete beginner and you will be fine. We start from zero and build from there.

You will receive a PDF certificate, which you may print yourself or have professionally printed.

Have a question that’s not addressed above? Email refai@getrefm.com.

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