NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2012

Instructor Details

Instructor: Aurel Hizmo


Monday 1:30-2:30pm, Thursday 4:45-6:00pm

KMC 9-74


Teaching Fellow: Patrick Coyne


Monday 6-7pm



Course Meetings

TR, 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Tisch T-UC25


Course Description and Learning Goals

Real Estate Capital Markets studies debt and equity secondary markets linked to real estate assets. These markets have become a key way to funding residential and commercial real estate. The recent financial crisis saw a sharp contraction of new issuance in some of these markets, although others, such as the agency MBS market, became even larger and more central to mortgage finance.

On the debt side, we will study features of commercial and residential mortgages, and mortgage math (e.g. calculating mortgage points, prepayments and so on). We will then analyze agency and non-agency mortgage-backed securities, as well as some related instruments, such as CDOs. We will discuss the key factors that drive default risk and interest rate risk on commercial and residential mortgages, and learn the basic principles for the valuation of mortgage-backed securities, taking into account the value of the prepayment option embedded in such securities. We will cover the historical development of mortgage secondary markets, the institutional structure of this sector (e.g. the role of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae), and the process of securitization. We will also discuss alternative funding sources to securitization, such as covered bonds, syndication, deposit finance and FHLB advances. We will also discuss the causes and consequences of the current financial crisis, which has important implications for both commercial and residential real estate finance.

On the equity side, we will study Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which are the primary traded equity structure used for real estate. This will include a discussion of the legal and institutional framework of the REIT industry, tax issues, and REIT valuation.

Since both debt and equity claims depend fundamentally on the value of the underlying real estate assets, we will also cover the measurement of real estate prices, recent market trends, fundamental determinants of prices, and valuation approaches.

We will also spend some time covering international aspects of real estate capital markets (e.g. covered bonds). Depending on time and class interests, we may also spend time covering other topics, such as real estate investment banking or Case-Shiller housing futures contracts.

Class time will be devoted to a mix of formal lectures, in-class exercises and guest lectures from Wall Street professionals. The course is a mix of qualitative and quantitative work. No prerequisites beyond the Stern core classes are required or needed. But students should expect to be doing a fair amount of cashflow modelling in Excel, as well as fixed income mathematics.

Please note:

Real Estate Capital Markets has a somewhat different focus than other real estate classes offered at NYU Stern. Other courses generally take the perspective of a primary market real estate investor (e.g. a developer, a shopping mall operator etc.). In Real Estate Capital Markets, we generally take the perspective of a secondary market investor, such as an investor in mortgage backed securities, or the common equity of a REIT. The course places considerable emphasis on securitization, the housing finance system, the GSEs, the subprime mortgage crisis and related topics. The course will be relevant both to people with an interest in real estate, and those interested in fixed income markets.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Course Materials

Since most of the topics studied in the class are not well covered in any single text, there is no required textbook for the class. Primary materials for the course are the lecture notes, plus readings for each class that will be regularly posted on Blackboard. Some of these readings will be required, others will be optional or background reading for interested students. (This will be made clear on Blackboard). Other class materials such as assignments, practice exams, course announcements and so on will also be posted on Blackboard.

Although you will not need to purchase a textbook, you are asked to read the popular finance book Liar’s Poker, by Michael Lewis. This will be discussed in Week 3. This book gives a clear, entertaining account of the birth of the mortgage-backed securities market. (The text is generally available on Amazon and in most bookstores.)

Lewis, Michael, 1989, Liar's Poker, Penguin Books, NY, NY, ISBN 0-393-02750-3. [The chapters relevant to this course are Ch 5, 6 and 7, but the entire book is recommended].


Another book that we will refer to in Week 4 when we discuss the role of GSE’s in the US residential real estate markets is:

“Guaranteed to Fail: Freddie, Fannie, and the Debacle of the U.S. Mortgage Finance”,  V. Acharya, M. Richardson, S. Van Nieuwerburgh.


We will also make reference to three Harvard Business School cases during the course:

“Mortgage-Backs at Ticonderoga”, HBS Case 205-122, 2005.  George Chacko, Peter Hecht, Vincent Dessain, Anders Sjoman.

“Rosetree Mortgage Opportunity Fund”, HBS Case 9-209-088, 2009, Victoria Ivashina, Andre F. Perold.

“Cypress Sharpridge: Raising Capital in a Time of Crisis”, HBS Case 9-310-140, 2010, Lena G. Goldberg, Adam Nebesar.


Although there is no required text, I’ve listed below a range of reference texts that will be useful for particular segments of the course. It is not necessary to buy any of these to master the material covered in class. But students who want to gain a particularly in-depth understanding of the material should feel free to consult me about any of these books.


Financial calculator:

A financial calculator will be required for the course and for exams, to perform basic annuity and present value type calculations. Any financial calculator will do, as long as you understand how to use it. However, I will be using a Texas Instruments: TI - BA II Plus, and will sometimes refer to it in class. [N.B. Students interested in obtaining CFA certification should note that the two approved calculators for CFA exams are the TI-BA II Plus, and the Hewlett Packard: HP 12C.]


Assessment Components

Overview of Course Assesment

The distribution of overall letter grades for the course will reflect Stern’s guidelines. Your final course grade will be based on the following:


Assignments: 20% [dropping worst assignment grade] 

Midterm quiz: 10% or 30%

Final exam: 60% or 40%.

Class attendance and participation: 10%


Note that there is some flexibility in the grading scheme, i.e. the balance between the midterm and final exam. Your midterm exam will be worth either 10% or 30% of your final grade, depending on how well you do in the midterm relative to the final. I’ll correspondingly adjust the weight on the final exam (e.g. if your midterm weight is 30%, your final exam weight is 40%).

This adjustment will be done automatically by me in a way that maximizes your overall grade. The intention here is to provide some insurance for you in case you “have a bad day” on the date of the midterm or the final exam.

[Specifically, I’ll shift the grades for the midterm and the final so they both have the same average across the whole class. I’ll then assign weights of either 10% midterm versus 60% final exam, or 30% midterm versus 40% final exam, depending on which one maximizes your overall grade for the course].

Note that standard Stern grading policies (e.g. regarding distributions of letter grades) will apply to this class.


a) Assignments:

There will be five assignments posted over the course of the semester. Your overall assignment grade will be based on the best four of your five individual assignments (i.e. you drop your worst score out of the five).

You are welcome, and in fact encouraged, to complete these assignments in a group of up to three people, and submit a single group answer. You should keep the same group for the entire semester. If you want me to find other group members for you, please send me an email, and I will assign you to a group with other people that contact me. When you submit your assignment online, please make sure you write the names of all the members of the group on the assignment.

Unless exceptional circumstances apply, late assignments will not be accepted. You are responsible if another member of your group fails to submit the assignment on time.

Each assignment is due on a Thursday, unless otherwise noted. The due dates for the five assignments are as follows:

Assignment due dates:

Assignment 1:  February 9

Assignment 2: March 1

Assignment 3:  March 29

Assignment 4:  April 12

Assignment 5:  April 26

The assignment questions will normally be posted two weeks before the assignment is due.


b) Exams:

The final exam and midterm quiz will consist of multiple choice questions, essay questions and problems. The final exam will assess material from the entire course, but with most of the emphasis being on content studied after the midterm exam.

The exam is entirely open book. Students will be allowed to bring all course materials to the exam and midterm quiz. Exam problems will be graded based on the process used; a correct answer without any working out will in general receive only partial credit. Students should bring a financial calculator to exams, as described above.


c) Class Participation:

Active and informed class participation is expected and strongly encouraged. 10% of your class grade is based on class attendance and participation. Enthusiastic and meaningful class participation will be rewarded. (N.B. This will reflect the quality of your comments, not just the quantity.)

To encourage discussion and interaction, students should bring their name tag to class, and display it clearly so that I and other people in the class can see it.


Course Outline


(Any updates will be posted on Blackboard)

Important dates: 

Jan 24:                        First class

March 8:                      MIDTERM QUIZ

May 10:                       FINAL EXAM (110 minutes)




  Material to be covered


Jan 24-26



Introduction and real estate price dynamics
  • Course outline and introduction
  • Economic determinants of real estate prices
  • Measurement of commercial and residential property prices



Jan 31 –

Feb 2

Mortgages and mortgage calculations
  • Primer on the US mortgage market
  • Structure of commercial and residential mortgage contracts
  • Mortgage mathematics (e.g. calculating points, NPV, prepayments etc.)


Feb 7-9

 The mortgage finance system, and mortgage risks

  • Mortgage risks: (i) interest rate risk, (ii) credit risk, (iii) prepayment risk
  • Securitization and the funding of residential and commercial mortgages
  • The residential mortgage finance system


Feb 14-16

 GSE’s and the residential mortgage system

  • GSE’s, past and present
  • Passthrough securities versus collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs)
  • The GSEs and the TBA market
  • The future of the GSEs


Feb 21-23

 Modelling prepayment risk

  • Understanding prepayment risk
  • Modeling prepayment risk
  • Cash flow modeling of agency residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS)


Feb 28 - 

Mar 1

Mortgage valuation, and CMOs
  • Estimating expected returns: static yield spreads and option adjusted spreads
  • Understanding CMOs
  • Cashflow modeling of CMOs


Mar 6-8

Midterm Review Session (Mar. 6)

Midterm quiz (Mar. 8)

March 13-15: Spring break. No class


Mar 20-22

 Modeling residential defaults, and the non-agency MBS market

  • Non-agency market structuring (waterfalls etc.)

HBS Case:Ticonderoga


Mar 27-2

Understanding the Crisis
  • The subprime crisis
  • Government responses to the crisis

HBS Case: Rosetree Mortgage Opportunity Fund


Apr 3-5

Commercial real estate and commercial mortgages
  • Introduction to commercial real estate
  • Structure and performance of commercial mortgages
  • Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS)



Apr 10-12


  • Introduction to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Guest lecture: TBA.




Apr 17-19

 REITs (cont.)

  • REITs: Tax treatment other benefits
  • REIT valuation methods

HBS Case: Cypress Sharpridge: Raising Capital in a Time of Crisis


Apr 24-26

Real estate investment banking; innovations in real estate capital markets
  • Real estate investment banking
  • Innovations and features of foreign markets
  • Derivatives, covered bonds, real estate futures




May 1-3

 Real estate and the real economy; trends for the future, review

  • Interactions and feedbacks with the real economy
  • The future of real estate and capital markets
  • Course review and Q&A


May 10

Final exam[110 minutes] Starts In UC-25 at 4:00pm



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter. Assigning grades that reward excellence and reflect differences in performance is important to ensuring the integrity of our curriculum.

In general, students in this elective course can expect a grading distribution where about 50% of students will receive A’s for excellent work and the remainder will receive B’s for good or very good work. In the event that a student performs only adequately or below, he or she can expect to receive a C or lower.

Note that the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well each of you actually performs in this course.


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may work together on graded assignment. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Professional Responsibilities For This Course




In-class contribution is an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:




Classroom Norms


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


Reference Materials


The books listed below are relevant for various aspects of the course, and at various points material from the books will be referred to in the lectures. Interested students who want to gain an in-depth understanding of particular aspects of the course should feel free to consult me about purchasing one or more of the texts below. None of them are required, however.

It should be noted that the texts listed below generally predate the current mortgage crisis, and often the boom in non-agency MBS that preceded it. For this reason, the books are generally a relatively better guide to the agency mortgage market.


Textbooks and technical books

1. Fabozzi, Bhattacharya and Berliner, “Mortgage-Backed Securities: Products, Structuring and Analytical Techniques”, ISBN 978-0-470-04773-6, Wiley and Sons, 2011.

Well-written overview of mortgage and MBS fixed-income markets, including prepayment, default, valuation etc.

2. Gelner, Miller, Clayton, Eichholtz, " Commercial Real Estate Analysis and Investments", 2006, 2nd Edition.

Great textbook for a general study of commercial real estate, but capital markets is not its main focus.

3. Brueggeman and Fisher, “Real Estate Finance and Investments”, Irwin 2010, 14th Edition.

One of the most popular books for teaching the basics of real estate finance. Not strong on capital markets however.

4. Davidson, Sanders, Wolff, and Ching, “Securitization: Structuring and Investment Analysis” ISBN: 978-0-471-02260-2, 576 pages, September 2003.

Covers a range of different securitization markets, not just MBS. Includes a good intuitive discussion of pricing and OAS.

5. Hayre, “Salomon Smith Barney Guide to Mortgage-backed Securities,” Wiley and Sons, Inc, 2001.

Salomon Brothers pioneered the underwriting, trading and modeling of mortgage-backed securities in the 1980s, as described in Liar’s Poker.

6. Fabozzi, 2006, “Handbook of Mortgage-Backed Securities”, 6th Edition, McGraw-Hill Trade, ISBN 0-07-146074-8.

Contains chapters on various aspects of the MBS market, written by industry professionals. While lengthy and broad in scope, it is less useful than (1) as a pedagogical tool for learning about MBS markets.

7. Garrigan and Parsons, 1997, “Real Estate Investment Trusts: Structure, Analysis and Strategy”, McGraw-Hill Irwin, ISBN 0-7863-0002-7.

Contains a wealth of institutional information about REITs.

8. Poorvu and Cruikshank, “The Real Estate Game: The Intelligent Guide to Decision-Making and Investment”, Free Press 1999.

Useful overall text on real estate finance and real estate investing (not specifically focusing on real estate capital markets).


Popular / general reading

1.  Robert Shiller, 2008, “The Subprime Solution: How Today’s Global Financial Crisis Happened and What to Do About It”, Princeton University Press, ISBN13: 978-0-691-13929-6.

A short, straightforward account of the causes of the subprime mortgage crisis, as well as a set of policy suggestions. Robert Shiller also wrote the well known book “Irrational Exuberance”, which predicted the collapse of the internet stock market bubble.

2.  Richard Bitner, 2008, “Confessions of a Subprime Lender: An Insider’s Tale of Greed, Fraud and Ignorance”, Wiley, ISBN978-0470402191.

A former owner of a mortgage company serving the subprime market explains clearly and in detail the structure of that market, and various incentive problems that helped lead to the crisis.

3.  Edward Gramlich, 2007, “Subprime Mortgages: America’s Latest Boom and Bust”, Urban Institute Press, ISBN 978-0877667391.

A former Federal Reserve governor discusses the growth in subprime lending, and events that led up to the surge in mortgage defaults that led to the financial crisis.


Some online resources


A good online source for information on mortgage finance and real estate markets.


Contains useful entries on housing and mortgage markets, recommended especially for the “Compleat Ubernerd” entries on mortgage finance.


New York real estate news.


Nouriel Roubini’s source for macroeconomics and finance news and analysis. Free access within the NYU network.


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