CU Boulder launches college course on real estate technology

Universities across the country already teach the basics of the real estate business. But a new class at the University of Colorado, Boulder could be the first devoted entirely to real estate technology.

Real estate entrepreneur and analyst Mike DelPrete has joined the university as scholar-in-residence to teach courses covering real estate technology, including everything from iBuyers and Zillow to new construction methods.

Mike DelPrete, new scholar-in-residence at CU Boulder. Credit: Mike DelPrete

“We really do think we are the first major university and business school and real estate program to embrace this in a very pragmatic way, rather than casual conversation,” said Michael Kercheval, executive director of the CU Real Estate Center, which brought on DelPrete to teach the course.

DelPrete will teach a fall undergraduate course through the CU Real Estate Center, part of the university’s Leeds School of Business since 1989. The center received a donation to provide more technology education and began by running a series of weekend symposiums last year before bringing on DelPrete as scholar-in-residence this year, Kercheval said.

The undergraduate class will be made up of a small group of seniors who have already taken core courses on the business school’s real estate track, like real estate finance, real estate law and real estate economics. In the spring semester, DelPrete will teach a graduate-level version of the course that takes a more intellectually curious and less practical approach.

Students won’t take multiple-choice tests about the real estate industry. Instead, they’ll work on case studies and listen to guest speakers. DelPrete is building out the syllabus now before the fall semester starts and plans to bring in speakers from real estate startups, venture capital firms and others in the industry, although he declined to say who those speakers would be before the schedule is finalized.

DelPrete said he plans to devote a class session to Opendoor and how iBuyers are changing real estate and he wants to cover rental technology for tenants and landlords, venture capitalists’ view of real estate tech and advertising portals like Zillow and Trulia. He will also continue to do research on the real estate industry, as he had before joining CU Boulder, and he’ll also represent the university at industry events.

“Having a foot in the university and the other foot in the real world and the industry is going to make the class that much better,” DelPrete said.

Kercheval said he envisions the program as covering technology tools that CU graduates should know before entering jobs in the real estate industry; technologies being deployed into real estate like new house-building techniques; and what the unintended implications of these technologies are on the real estate industry.

DelPrete’s broad survey course is the first step of what Kercheval envisions as a full-fledged program with multiple electives available so that students can graduate with an emphasis on real estate technology. Future courses could cover artificial intelligence in real estate, the effects of autonomous vehicles or crossover with the university’s College of Engineering and Applied Science to cover building materials and construction processes.

Students who study real estate through CU Boulder’s business school go on to work for major real estate companies and property developers throughout commercial, residential, retail and other categories of real estate. DelPrete’s background will bring more of a focus to residential real estate.

“This isn’t just a real estate tech program for one class. It’s a whole semester of work, of talking about this stuff,” DelPrete said.

Email Emma Hinchliffe

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