Real Estate Dissertation Topics


Mortgage rates can be discussed in relation to many different topics. This is a popular topic amongst Real Estate students.

Example mortgage dissertation topic 1:

Assessing the sub-prime melt down in California: A five year review

The immediate global repercussions of the American sub-prime market are well documented and, in the first instance, this dissertation builds upon the secondary available. However, in thereafter contributing to new knowledge through original primary research, this dissertation revisits three neighbourhoods within San Francisco that were particularly badly affected by the sub-prime meltdown and critiques the existing strength of their real estate markets. Accordingly, this dissertation looks not only at the ‘here and now’ effects of the meltdown of five years ago but also use first hand primary evidence in the form of interviews with real estate agents and house-sellers and -buyers to offer an in-depth analysis of the current market.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Goetzmann, W. N., Peng, L. and Yen, J. (2012). The subprime crisis and house price appreciation. Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 44(1), pp. 36-66.
  • Pavlov, A. andWachter, S. (2011). Subprime lending and real estate prices. Real Estate Economics, 39(1), pp. 1-17.
  • Schafran, A. andWegmann, J. (2012). Restructuring, race, and real estate: Changing home values and the new California metropolis, 1989-2010. Urban Geography, 33(5), pp. 630-654.

Example mortgage dissertation topic 2:

The return of 95% mortgages: A fillip for real estate markets or the precursor to a future fall.

The reappearance of 95% mortgages by a number of British High Street banks in recent months can be interpreted in three distinct manners. First, it may be part of the long awaited move by the banks to ‘start lending again’. Secondly, it may be seen as a necessary fillip to the static housing market – especially north of the Midlands. Thirdly, it may be interpreted as a lesson not learned – encouraging those who cannot truly afford to take out mortgages to borrow, thereby potentially sowing the seeds for a further future housing and mortgage meltdown. Speaking to economic commentators, as well as first time buyers and those who houses have been repossessed over the past three years in Crewe, this is a dissertation that seeks to evaluate the validity of the three alternative hypotheses noted and, through so doing, to evaluate the present state of real estate within the town.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cho, Y., Hwang, S. andSatchell, S. (2012). The optimal mortgage loan portfolio in UK regional residential real estate.Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 45(3), pp. 1-33.
  • Scanlon, K., Lunde, J. and Whitehead, C. (2011).Responding to the housing and financial crises: mortgage lending, mortgage products and government policies.European Journal of Housing Policy, 11(1), pp. 23-49.
  • Williams, P. (2011). The credit crunch in the UK: Understanding the impact on housing markets, policies and households. In, Forrest, R. and Yip, N.M.Housing markets and the global financial crisis: The uneven impact on households. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 41-56.


Another very popular topic for a dissertation in this subject is the discussion of rented properties. This could be relating to renting prices, student accommodation or working with private landlords.

Example rent dissertation topic 1:

An analysis of the student buy-to-let market in Exeter.

As one of the country’s more affluent areas for students, Exeter has traditionally benefitted, like its near neighbour, Bristol, from a buoyant student buy-to-let real estate market. However, with numbers of applicants for study suffering as a consequence of the introduction of £9,000 fees, has the buy-to-let market in Exeter reached a tipping point? Noting, from the experiences of present day students (as well as those who have graduated over the last three years) that the number of year-long rents have declined – as students have increasingly sought better details from landlords – this dissertation evaluates the extent to which the buy-to-let market in Exeter has reached a saturation point, as well as the extent to which investing in buy-to-let student properties still represents a sound real estate investment purchase within the city.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Garmendia, M., Coronado, J. M. andUre�a, J. M. (2012). University students sharing flats: When studentification becomes vertical. Urban Studies, 49(12), pp. 2651-2668.
  • Leyshon, A. and French, S. (2009). ‘We all live in a Robbie Fowler house’: The geographies of the buy to let market in the UK. The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 11(3), pp. 438-460.
  • Whitehead, C. and Williams, P. (2011).Causes and consequences?Exploring the shape and direction of the housing system in the UK post the financial crisis.Housing Studies, 26(7-8), pp. 1157-1169.

Example rent dissertation topic 2:

A comparative analysis of the real estate markets in Germany and the UK with regard to renting: A case study of two cities, Dresden and Coventry.

Historically, the German housing market has always been far more focused towards renting than Britain’s ‘property owning democracy’. Given this divergence in real estate markets this dissertation first evaluates how such underlying structural differences have affected the real estate markets of the two nations in light of the global financial crisis of 2008. Thereafter, and in order, that the data presented in the dissertation is made more readily accessible to the general reader, the dissertation focuses on the real estate markets of two individual cities. United through shared experiences, Dresden and Coventry have both seen the nature of their industrial bases change in the last sixty years as well as substantial redevelopment post-war. It is felt therefore, that these two cities are comparable; thereby adding greater validity to the comparative analysis that this study undertakes.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • F�ss, R., Stein, M. and Zietz, J. (2012).A regime-switching approach to modeling rental prices of UK real estate sectors.Real Estate Economics,40(2), pp. 317-350.
  • Just, T. and Maennig, W. (eds.). (2012). Understanding German real estate markets. Berlin: Springer.
  • Kemp, P. A. and Kofner, S. (2010). Contrasting varieties of private renting: England and Germany. International Journal of Housing Policy, 10(4), pp. 379-398.

Real Estate Prices

Completing a dissertation on a topic relating to real estate prices is a popular choice. The economic change and how this effects house prices, sales and mortgages could be an interesting area to explore!

Example real estate prices dissertation topic 1:

A dream turned into a nightmare: Counting the costs of the real estate crash amongst British expats in Greece.

With its sun blushed beaches, olive groves and slower pace of life, Greece has, like Spain, been a favoured destination for British ex-pats seeking to live a quieter life abroad. However, the trauma within the Greek economy has seen the ‘real’ price of houses tumbled at an unprecedented rate. Now faced with a reality in which many cannot afford to sell their homes – let alone afford to return to the UK – this dissertation interviews British expats presently living in various locations in Greece who are trying to sell their homes. Through so doing, it hopes to be able to proffer a series of economic suggestions as to how the Greek real estate market could be rejuvenated as well as ‘hope’ for those for whom emigration has turned from a dream into a nightmare.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Frith, M. (2012).Spain financial crisis: Sun setting on expats’ Costa dreams. Daily Telegraph, 26th May 2012.
  • Hui, E.C. and Chan, K.K.K. (2012). The European sovereign debt crisis: Contagion across European real estate markets. Journal of Property Research(ahead-of-publication).
  • Financial Times, The. (2012). If Greece goes…The impact of a Greek default on Europe and the world economy.London: Portfolio Penguin/Financial Times.

Example real estate prices dissertation topic 2:

The cyclical nature of urban real-estate: An historical investigation into changing real estate prices within inner-city Leeds.

The steady growth of suburbia in the mid-1920s as the middle classes sought an exodus from the crowded inner-cities is well documented by academic commentators such as Simon Gunn. Noting how, in the early years of the 20th century the land value of inner-city slum areas fell and how the ideal of ‘country living’ came to preoccupy the middle classes in the form of ever-creeping suburbanisation, this dissertation thereafter notes how the former unfashionable areas of the inner-city have, as time has progressed, become increasingly fashionable. Thus, loft conversions and canal side apartments have become the aspirational homes desired by many whereas the fringe estates have lost ‘curb side’ appeal. Charting this changing reality of real-estate preferences through land values and patterns of development, this is a dissertation that would benefit from statistical data analysis.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Arsenault, M., Clayton, J. andPeng, L. (2011). Mortgage Fund flows, capital appreciation, and real estate cycles. Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, DOI: 10.1007/s11146-012-9361-4, pp. 1-23.
  • Jadevicius, A., Sloan, B. and Brown, A. (2010).Is 100 years of research on property cycles enough to predict the future of UK property market performance with accuracy?Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 6-8 September, Leeds.
  • Miller, N. andPeng, L. (2006).Exploring metropolitan housing price volatility.The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 33(1), pp. 5-18.

Example real estate prices dissertation topic 3:

Facing the apocalypse: A review of existing literature relating to the need for the housing market to realign itself coupled with an analysis of estate agents’ views.

There is a substantial body of academic opinion that believes that the housing market in England and Wales is over-valued by upwards of 20%. Value correction to realise this would, however, plunge thousands into negative equity – though it might, simultaneously, also act as a fillip for first-time buyers. Focusing on two distinct real estate markets, Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and Poole, Dorset, this dissertation first reviews the existing contemporary academic debate on this subject before contextualising it into the stated housing markets. In so doing, theory is combined with reality through the collation and evaluation of the opinions of estate agents other professionals in both Great Yarmouth and Poole to create a dynamic research project.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Fraser, P., Hoesli, M. andMcAlevey, L. (2012). House prices, disposable income and permanent and temporary shocks: The NZ, UK and US experience. Journal of European Real Estate Research, 5(1), pp. 5-28.
  • Hall, I. (2011). The Coalition and the UK housing market.Politics, 31(2), pp. 72-81.
  • Meen, G. (2013). Homeownership for future generations in the UK.Urban Studies, 50(4), pp. 637-656.

Tax and Insurance

If you are interested in the more financial side of things, perhaps a topic relating to insuring properties, developments or inheritance tax could be a good choice!


Example tax and insurance dissertation topic 1:

Inheritance tax and real estate: A comment.

The expectation that Chancellor George Osborne will freeze inheritance tax rates at £325,000 until at least 2019, has sent palpable shock waves throughout the nation, not least because the figure brings into the tax benefit many ordinary families living in three or four bedroomed semi-detached homes. Focusing on just such a concerned community within Winchester, this seeks to evaluate what extent to the proposed tax changes will have on real-estate ownership within the town. For instance, will those who are retired seek to downsize and to pass on ‘cash assets’ to their children rather than seeing them burdened by death taxes? Addressing such questionnaires through targeted primary interviews, this is this is a cutting edge research proposal dealing with a dynamic and developing policy area.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Best, M. andKleven, H. J. (2012). Property transaction taxes and the housing market: Evidence from notches and housing stimulus in the UK. Preliminary draft paper. London: LSE.
  • Prabhakar, R. (2011). Debating the ‘death tax’: The politics of inheritance tax in the UK.In, Holden, H., Kilkey, M. and Ramia, G. (eds), Social Policy Review 23: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy. Bristol: Policy Press,pp. 85-102.
  • Winnett, R. and Dominiczak, P. (2013).David Cameron abandons inheritance tax pledge. Daily Telegraph, 10th February 2013.

Example tax and insurance dissertation topic 2:

Insuring the uninsurable: Real estate within floodplains.

Addressing a niche aspect within the study of real estate management, this dissertation investigates an issue that is not only of major concern to insurance companies and individual clients but is also one that has an array of potential long term effects on the nature of real estate within the country. As insures struggle to meet ever-rising pay-out costs associated with flooding, increasing numbers with in the industry have started to refuse to insure such properties. Faced with an inability to obtain insurance, the ability to sell such property is also weakened – thereby, in certain areas, significantly depressing the housing market. Focusing on Norfolk and the Thames Gateway, this dissertation speaks to those affected by this issue as well as government ministers who are trying to negotiate a resolution between the needs of property owners and insurance companies.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Crichton, D. (2008). Role of insurance in reducing flood risk.The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance-Issues and Practice, 33(1), pp. 117-132.
  • Eves, C. (2004). The impact of flooding on residential property buyer behaviour: an England and Australian comparison of flood affected property. Structural Survey, 22(2), pp. 84-94.
  • White, I. and Howe, J. (2002). Flooding and the role of planning in England and Wales: a critical review. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 45(5), pp. 735-745.

Property Development

Property development could be a very interesting topic for a dissertation, especially if you decide to focus on developments within a specific city or country!


Example property development dissertation topic 1:

Digging down – Changing approaches to property development within London.

Focusing on the £3,000,000 and above real estate market in London, this dissertation looks specifically at those developments where owners or developers have added additional floors to existing houses by digging down to create additional living space. Noting that such developments often result in concerns from neighbours with regards to subsidence and foundations, this dissertation assesses the desirability of such developments from individual and neighbourhood viewpoints. Combining theory and practice with first hand interviews as well as descriptions of the properties involved this is a multi-faceted dissertation ideally suited to both undergraduate and postgraduate researchers.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • McCarthy, J. andKilgour, R. (2011).Planning for subterranean residential development in the UK.Planning, Practice & Research, 26(1), pp. 71-94.
  • Middleton, C. (2008). Basement conversions: Digging their heels in. Daily Telegraph, 3rd May 2008.
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (2009).Subterranean development: Supplementary planning document, local development framework. London: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

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