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Crowdsourcing a Real Estate Textbook

By Wisconsin School of Business

March 24, 2015

A real estate class at the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is giving undergraduate business students a unique learning opportunity and the chance to highlight published research on their resumes.

Assistant Professor Jaime Luque’s Regional and Urban Economics course was designed to provide students with the fundamentals on cities—their contributions to economic and social development, the role of infrastructure, how regulations impact urban development, and forces that contribute to housing and real estate activity. But it also gave 70 students the hands-on experience of reviewing cutting-edge research articles in top urban economics journals and writing about this work to give fellow students a comprehensive and concise overview of what is happening in the field of regional and urban economics.

Their writing has led to the creation of a crowdsourced textbook, Urban Land Economics, with each chapter written by a group of two to four students from the class. The textbook is aimed at an audience of undergraduate students in business and economics, as well as both undergraduate and graduate students in programs such as real estate, urban and regional planning, geography, and development studies.

“This was a unique opportunity for students to put their analytical and writing skills to work and review this cutting-edge research that culminated in the creation of a textbook that puts the research in context,” said Luque, assistant professor in real estate and urban land economics. “This reflects the Wisconsin School of Business’s commitment to engaging students in research activities as an essential part of the active learning process.”

“As a senior graduating with degrees in real estate and economics, the opportunity to have my writing published proved to be a great talking point when interviewing with recruiters for full-time positions,” said Daniel Ebsen, a BBA senior at the Wisconsin School of Business. “This experience helped foster my interest in pursuing a career in real estate while serving as a tangible reminder of the hard work involved.”

Luque met with each group of students to proofread and comment on their first drafts, offering suggestions for improvement. The textbook is divided into seven parts, discussing different elements of urban land economics:

  1. Facts about cities, their sizes, types, and contributions to economic and social development;
  2. Role of trade, economies of scale, and agglomeration effects on the emergence of cities;
  3. Causes of homelessness in the United States of America;
  4. Impact of regulations on urban development and land prices;
  5. Implications of neighborhood choice on migration and schooling;
  6. Role of infrastructure in the modern city and in real estate markets; and
  7. Local and national drivers of housing and real estate activity.

Urban Land Economics will be published next month by Springer International Publisher.