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REFAI Student Stories
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 Real Estate Finance and Investments: Risks and Opportunities, “the Blue Bible of real estate,” authored by Dr. Peter Linneman and Bruce Kirsch.
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What REFAI Certification Holders and Candidates Are Saying
I’m glad that I took the REFAI Certification. As a college student who wants to start a career in the commercial real estate industry, this course provided me with the necessary tools and concepts used currently in the industry.
The course is organized in an enjoyable format, being well-proportioned yet sufficiently challenging, with each module building on the previous modules. Both instructors, Peter Linneman and Bruce Kirsch, are extremely knowledgeable. I definitely would recommend this course to anyone who wants to build a career in the commercial real estate industry!
Alejandro Tellez Vazquez, Student at Texas Tech University
I have been an investment sales professional for the last seven years and was looking to improve my real estate financial modeling skills to best service my clients. After researching the REFAI course offered by Bruce Kirsch and Dr. Peter Linneman, I decided to give it a try.
I was able to improve my modeling skills through extremely detailed tutorials, and, to my surprise, I learned even more through their textbook and online lectures. I am very satisfied with their program and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn the real estate business or, like me, improve their knowledge and skill set.
I just want to say how amazing this course was overall. I really am pushing around twenty other younger college students to take this to get them ahead of the curve. It really does a great job of teaching you a topic through the book, then pounding it in your head through the lecture then understanding it analytically with the Excel. Thank you again.
Chris Comet, Student at University of Southern California
I just took the final exam for the REFAI course after completing all prior tasks. Incredible course, especially for an experienced analyst looking to get a very in-depth understanding of the equity side of acquisitions. Thanks again for a great course – best CRE training out there.
Connor Nolan, Underwriting Analyst – Structured Finance, Freddie Mac
For the real estate brokers out there looking to improve in their knowledge and impress their clients, the student right out of college looking to gain an edge on competing for highly desired entry level jobs, or the beginner looking to invest in real estate, I highly recommend earning these certifications and taking the course. You will be astonished as to how much you learn.
The textbook is well written and the interviews, lectures, and practice questions are very well thought out. The instructors are very helpful with any extra questions or clarifying misunderstandings, giving you everything you need to succeed. I have enjoyed this course immensely and cant wait to start applying what I have learned in my career moving forward.
Dan Litt, Commercial Real Estate Salesperson in Philadelphia
As a career switcher who is entering into real estate, the course provided an opportunity to gain a credible industry-known certification (a simple LinkedIn search reveals just how many RE professionals list REFM as an accomplishment), develop practical skills, and stand out among job candidates with MBAs.
The disciplined, logical, clear, and methodical way in which the material was presented should be the benchmark for how real estate finance and investing is taught in top-tier universities. I feel much more confident in my ability to “talk real estate finance” after reading the book and working on the exercises. I also have a better sense of my strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, I have a lifetime to improve my skills with the course materials and textbook.
U.C. Berkeley MRED+D Graduate
The course provides a ton of helpful review material, hands-on modeling exercises, and insightful real estate stories and lessons. When combined with the Real Estate Finance and Investments textbook, the entire experience gives you an invaluable leg up in the industry. All in all, I would recommend this course to anyone trying to learn more about the business and master the technical side of real estate risks and opportunities.
Brooks Arundel, Analyst, Cushman & Wakefield NYC
It was great! The videos and models were very interactive and helpful, and I’ve already recommended the course to all my real estate classmates. Thank you once again for an amazing curriculum, it certainly made for a great foundation of real estate knowledge on which to build.
Alejandro Banuelos, BS Candidate in Economics, The Wharton School
The course was fantastic! It really helped me stand out while applying for Analyst positions in the Commercial Real Estate world. I feel more confident in my excel skills and more comfortable with my terminology and critical thinking.
I am really glad I used my free time on something as productive as REFM.
Thank you for everything.
Zachary Bertucci, Wisconsin School of Business BBA, Real Estate and Finance
REFAI is a phenomenal course. Thanks for your hard working putting this together.
I have taken financial modeling courses before. REFAI/REFM is unique because it’s the only one that shows how you lose money as a real estate investor through the Excel work, historic examples and scenarios.
The chapter interviews and insights are gold.
Brian Dentry, Associate, Weitzman
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.DOWNLOAD THE REFAI BROCHURE
Earn shareable badges as you complete each Module on your way to achieving the full Certification.
REFAI. Created Just For You.
Targeting a career in commercial real estate, or seeking to move up faster or go out on your own?
REFAI can help move you along in your career if you are a:
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 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 17 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.
- 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
- Going public as a real estate company
- Real estate entrepreneurship
- 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.
You can even go directly to these modules if you wish and complete them first.
Format & Time Commitment
This self-paced 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, MD of Development, Slate Asset Management
Authored by Peter Linneman, PhD and Bruce Kirsch
Edition 5.1 | First Published in 2003 | 457 pages | 26 Chapters
Select Corporate Adoptions
125+ University Adoptions
Chapter 1 in Audiobook | Hands-on Excel modeling exercises integrated throughout | 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 provide correct answers and commentary once taken
- There are optional duplicate review quizzes that are ungraded, which you can use an unlimited number of times to study for the midterm and final
- 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 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, and you have unlimited future access to them.
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.
CEO of Real Estate
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 150,000 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
REFAI pricing is USD $1,499 for professionals, and USD $599 for current students and academic faculty/staff and active duty and retired U.S. military. Groups of 2+ receive a 25% discount. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The cost of the hard copy textbook is included no matter where you live. Shipping is free within the US, but it is an additional $35 to ship to Canada, and an additional $65 to ship internationally other than to Canada.
We ship via UPS Monday through Friday, shipping same day for orders received before 2:30 PM Eastern time. International delivery generally takes 7-10 business days depending on the practices of your local Customs and UPS offices. Tracking information is sent to you by email typically the same day as the materials ship out.
You can learn about Academic and U.S. military status verification here.
Yes, we offer the chance to pay for the course over time through Affirm. You can apply for this option during the checkout process.
Current students, academic faculty and staff, and current and former U.S. military are eligible for discounted pricing. They must prove their status by providing a current and valid ID from any high school, college or university (both US-based and international), or military ID, as well as government-issued ID that verifies their identity. Credentials can be uploaded here.
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.
The Book and Course Materials
The cost of the hard copy textbook is included no matter where you live. Shipping is free within the US, but it is an additional $35 if shipping to Canada, and an additional $65 if you shipping internationally excluding Canada.
No, the book is provided to you in hard copy only. The book is not offered in PDF.
Yes. The course content is tied directly to the Fifth Edition/Edition 5.1 of the book, which is majorly enhanced and updated from prior editions.
No, the videos are streaming only. You must have a stable broadband Internet connection to view them without experiencing interruptions and file buffering.
No, you have lifetime access to everything.
You can start the course at any time once you have the textbook in your possession. The course is self-paced and the online platform is available 24/7/365.
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. Some have finished in 5 days, some in 300, but the norm is around 90 days.
Lifetime access is provided to all course materials.
You are welcome to take the course just for your own educational enrichment and skill building 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.
Yes, in your learner profile you have a list of all of the quizzes and links to view the quiz and answer explanations. You can also revisit your graded quizzes at any time and view the answer explanation.
You cannot take a quiz more than once, but you are given the option of one re-take for each of the Midterm and Final.
The way it works for the Midterm and Final is as follows:
Before you submit your answers, if you are not feeling satisfied with your performance, you can elect to forfeit your test submission and forfeit your ability to view a graded version with the answer key for the initial take. This will allow you to retake the test at another time. Your last take of the Midterm/Final will be the score counted.
You can also learn from all of your graded quizzes, as well as the Midterm and Final, by revisiting them at any time.
REFAI was designed to be demanding but fair. While the pass rate is quite high, you’re not guaranteed passing and you need to get approximately 350 questions correct of the approximately 500 questions in the course. REFAI is your chance to both learn and to demonstrate you have mastered the material.
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.
You will receive them in real time as you complete them, and can list them on your resume and LinkedIn at those points in time. You can even go straight to these modules if you wish to do them before the rest of the REFAI course.
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 email@example.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 below.
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 and complete the course within 150 days of registration.
You can be a complete beginner and you will be fine. We start from zero and build from there.
You will receive a high-resolution PDF certificate with your name on it, and the With Distinction designation if applicable. You may print the certificate yourself or have it professionally printed and framed.
Have a question that’s not addressed above? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.