In a city where real estate has continued to be a topic of conversation with no sign of slowing down, the University of Washington and Windermere Real Estate have teamed up to create an undergraduate minor in real estate studies, with courses beginning this month and it’s all thanks to a $5.4 million gift from Windermere founder, John Jacobi and his wife, Rosalind.
The gift will support two endowed faculty chairs at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in UW’s College of Built Environments and create the Windermere Endowed Real Estate Support Fund to provide support for the program.
Jill Jacobi Wood is the daughter of John Jacobi and is the co-president of Windermere. Living only a mile down the road from UW, Wood said her family’s involvement in the UW both in terms of their 30-year sponsorship of the annual Windermere Cup crew races and the many generations of her family members that went to the University, made UW the right choice for establishing a partnership in real estate. “Both of my parents went to UW, and we are very involved in the athletic department,” Wood said. “We have been a long time sponsor of UW athletics, and it just pulled at our heartstrings with this opportunity.”
With deep roots in the community, Wood said this is the perfect time and opportunity for young students to immerse themselves into the real estate world.
“I think that a lot of people are going to be interested in it,” Wood said. “Just with the Seattle housing market being so newsworthy, I would think that people would be really interested in participating in the classes.”
“What we have been thinking about is the next generation of leaders in our industry and our company,” Wood said. With numerous opportunities within the company, Wood wonders how to attract people and let them know that there are opportunities, that there is room for ownership and management within the company. “If we can raise the level of professionalism in real estate, there’s lots of opportunity for people,” she added.
In a press release, founder John Jacobi stated the intent of the program is to increase leadership and grow the real estate industry. “The University of Washington has been a huge part of our family’s life and is one of Seattle’s best assets. This minor is not about creating new real estate agents and brokers, it’s about elevating the real estate profession.” He added, “Our hope in making this gift is that UW students who minor in real estate will acquire a broader base of skills that make people successful — skills like finance, marketing and negotiation.”
The minor is open to all undergrads pursuing any degree at the UW and will be officially offered in the fall of 2017 with courses beginning in January 2017. Students wishing to try out one of the classes will be able to choose from courses such as real estate finance, appraisal and marketing. “This is more of the business side of real estate,” Wood said. “It isn’t the how to fill out a contract.”
Looking five to ten years into the future, Wood said she would love to see the program develop into an undergraduate degree in residential real estate. Even more, she eventually would like students to have the chance to earn a master’s degree but she realizes that it’s a slow process.
“I think it’s going to take time,” she said. “It just needs to grow, and we’ll see what the interest is in program and if there’s a lot of interest, I think it could happen.”
But Wood is optimistic and has high hopes for this partnership for both UW and Windermere.
“I hope that for UW, it attracts students. I hope that it becomes a wildly successful program for the UW,” she said. “For us, I hope to continue to always raise the bar in real estate. One of our core values is professionalism, and I love being able to have this partnership I think it helps us stand apart from the rest of the crowd.”