Best Real Estate Modeling course? REFM? BIWS? WSP?

This is my first post to WSO so I hope I'm doing this correctly.

Here's a little about myself...

Job : 1 year doing corporate finance at Top 3 Bulge Bracket bank
Undergrad : (Mid-Atlantic) Non-Target - Penn State, Maryland, UNC
Major GPA: 3.7+
Internships: 1 year at Elite RE development firm that builds casinos, entertainment complexes, shopping centers, multi-use etc

Upon graduating undergrad, I had aimed to start my career in investment banking either in NYC or LA. I was a bit naive/unrealistic at the time as I was entire aware of the rigid structure of on-campus recruiting. Sigh, I wish I had found WSO sooner! Since I was being the recruiting 8-ball and was in desperate need to pay bills as I am entirely self-sufficient, I took a job with a BB-bank but in a back office role. To put it bluntly, the work is mind numbing; and although I enjoy the personalities of the people I work with, I feel that I am not learning a valuable skill set that would suit me throughout my career.

I had had such a phenomenal experience at the CRE firm that I had interned at. However, I was hard-set on BB IB and passed on an offer from the firm. Eventually, the filled the position and I was out of my offer. Now, I am once again looking to move back into CRE. I have an interview with a REPE firm and I have a strong feeling I will have to complete an in-person modeling case study.

I am currently taking the BIWS basic modeling courses; however, my gut tells me that BIWS's basic modeling course will have me a bit unprepared for the case study.

Therefore, I was wondering if any fellow industry monkeys had advice/insight onto a high-quality modeling course that I could learn from. I've seen recommendations for BIWS REIT but that seems a bit more REIB focused. I've also seen recommendations for REFM and this seems to be a good fit. However, there are a wide variety of courses to choose from and the site doesn't not clearly lay out which ones would work well for an industry beginner trying to learn as much as possible.

If you have been in my predicament before, please reply or shoot a PM as I would love to hear all advice that you have to share!

PS - I have some good courses and guide if anyone is interested in a swap.

Comments (121)

Nov 23, 2015

@SanFranREPE Would you be interested in sharing these ULI modelling/valuation models?

I'm looking for developer focused models. I'm currently working for SF RE Operator as an analyst and we are jump starting our development and need to fine tune my skills.

I've got a few models to swap if interested.

Jan 25, 2016

Bumping this. Are you referring to ULI's Pro Forma Fundamentals Certificate? Any insight? It seems like a great program, but I am on the fence as REFM is half the price and seems to be more well known.

Aug 22, 2018

What courses from ULI would you recommend. There are a handful and was wondering which ones you took? Thanks!

Nov 23, 2015

I have the REFM MF program now. There is certainly a lot of info there but you're hunting for it. Bruce is a knowledgeable individual in the field of financial modeling but I find his teaching techniques to be lacking. With that being said, if you're already at least intermediate in Excel, and it sounds like you are maybe advanced, REFM courses may be for you.

His MF model is a value add acquisitions deal on a 30 unit building in Florida.

I have his office model as well but have yet to even open it...

Jun 14, 2016

I have a solid understanding + modeling skills for core MF properties but im looking to learn how to model value add properties or properties with upgrade programs... would you recommend the REFM mf self study program? is it worth it to buy?

Dec 28, 2018

Hv REFM if you are interested

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Jun 14, 2016

I plan on investing in both the BIWS RE kit and the getrefm course. Just for additional education. I think for the money its pretty good from what I have been told. I wonder though...if companies are seeking kids with modeling experience already (as a fresh undergrad), what major or classes in undergrad teaches you RE specific modeling or Argus???!! I would think thats something you learn on the spot at the job entry level anyway. Or is that why internships are so important? (Did not go that route so I would not know)

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Best Response
Jun 14, 2016

It's not just modelling but your core understanding of Acct and Finance that will drive your ability to get a job. These IB analysts are all coming in with heavy finance and acct backgrounds which gives them their edge, not per say in modelling, all that is driven by the underlying knowledge. If you take BIWS modelling courses but your fundamental understanding of acct/finance is weak, getting a firm spot in these REPE funds will be quite challenging...

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Jun 14, 2016

I have used both BIWS and REFM. I recommend both.

Jan 21, 2016


Jun 14, 2016

PHLrealestate - was the REFM course worth it? I am thinking about potentially taking level 1,2,3?

Jun 14, 2016

Have you taken BIWS? it is cheaper and seems to have more content and comes with case studies. REFM is decent but in hindsight I would have spent money elsewhere first.

Jan 21, 2016


Jun 14, 2016


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Jun 14, 2016

You know what would be really good for me is to try to solve some sort of CRE problem.

If someone outlines some sort of problem: model this, etc, give me that, in Excel, and let's me send it to them for feedback, well I'll be your friend at the very least.

Jun 14, 2016


Jun 14, 2016

echoing secfinance....

used BIWS course and it helped me get a feel for RE modeling. The IRR waterfall lecture is a good introduction to that concept...

Jun 3, 2017

Wow, I haven't gone through a full model from here yet but this looks fantastic, and the price is right for sure. Has anyone who knows how to do these models correctly, gone through these and can certify that they're well built?

I'm wondering why there isn't more buzz about this in the thread...

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Jun 3, 2017

Yeah I agree - there also a google drive on WSO with a few case studies on there but without the answers - I've worked through some of them so if you want to PM me to go through your model I'd be happy help out

Apr 26, 2017

Anyone have insight they could throw in?

How does BIWS/REFM work with sharing? My brother is a student in real estate so I would like to split the cost and share with him.

Also my personal laptop is a Mac, will I need to run windows to model in excel?

Apr 26, 2017

REFM is browser based video through an account you log into. They give you an excel document that you can work along with.

May 25, 2017

REFM RE Course for the BIWS Course*

Whatever it takes.

Jul 26, 2017
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Jul 17, 2017

Has anyone heard of or taken the "CRE Investment Fundamentals" course by Property metrics? I have been following their blog for quite a while but unsure if I want to spend the cash on the course.

Jul 19, 2017

I am literally wondering the same thing. The package seems more compact than the other two sources.

Jul 26, 2017

Isn't Argus the dominant player in this market?

Mar 9, 2018

BIWS Real estate case studies are great. I prefer the Wall Street Prep style of teaching, breaks it up in to more incremental pieces.

Apr 16, 2018

Not necessarily related to modeling but also good for interview does a great Sunday night newsletter to help keep track of major news stories

Apr 30, 2018

I already have a hard copy of the book, REFM just offers a course that has lectures to walk you through examples applying the info, has interviews with linneman, etc.

Jun 4, 2018

Is UNC really a non-target?

Dec 28, 2018

Nvr heard of it on the west coast, but east coast folks can chime in. I heard it is a reputable school and I am sure the network is strong on the local level.

Sep 3, 2018

I'm going to be buying the BIWS Real Estate Modeling course. It is necessary to take the BIWS Excel and Fundamentals course or Advanced Modeling course before I take the Real Estate Modeling course? Or can I get by without the intro courses if I already have a decent knowledge of Excel/financial statements?

Nov 27, 2018