A short but successful stop in Las Vegas. That’s what most visitors hope to achieve during their stay.
Ed Coulson, director of UNLV’s Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies and a professor of economics, will have done just that, though he’s been here longer than a weekend vacationer, when he departs UNLV and Las Vegas at the end of the fall 2016 term.
Coulson took over as director during the fall of 2014 after spending nearly three decades as a professor at Penn State University. But he recently accepted a position at the University of California, Irvine.
There was a lot Coulson set out to accomplish during his time at Lied. Upon arrival, he held the goal of raising the profile of the institute and, by extension, the UNLV Lee Business School.
“In the eyes of the Las Vegas real estate community, I think we’ve done that,” said Coulson during a phone interview.
With the power of the institute behind him, Coulson worked on molding relationships with several individuals and groups during his tenure, including the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and NAIOP Southern Nevada, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. He also worked to reconstitute Lied’s advisory boards.
“It’s been a joy and a privilege to do that,” he said.
The institute has also connected with the industry through its research of the local real estate markets, various newsletters and other outreach efforts.
The real estate community seems to have appreciated the interaction with Coulson.
Jarrad Katz, the 2016 president of the Southern Nevada CCIM chapter, who also sits on Lied Institutes’ Advisory Board, said, “On behalf of CCIM, we’ve very much appreciated the relationship we’ve had with Dr. Coulson, and we’ve enjoyed interaction that we’ve had with him and what he’s done for the Lied Institute.”
Coulson has also taken on important tasks for academia.
On top of his other endeavors, he served on the editorial boards of several publications: the Journal of Urban Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics and the Journal of Housing Economics. He also served as editor of Real Estate Economics.
“Teaching’s the No. 1 job of academics, of course. That goes without saying,” Coulson said. “But part of our job is to add to the knowledge base in the world, so doing research is a big part of that.”
Other things have shifted since Coulson’s arrival. For one, the increase in activity in commercial and residential markets in Las Vegas, though he noted that it really started about three to four year ago.
This has also sparked an increased interest in the real estate course he teaches at UNLV, with enrollment at an all-time high, he said.
Many of these potential real estate professionals are interested in pursuing development, investments and other areas.
Coulson said Las Vegas is “a real estate-oriented community and students are coming to understand that more and more.”
Adding to the spark of industrious activity around the valley will be the entrance of entities such as Faraday Future and Hyperloop, along with a continued recovery of the economy.
On top of increasing jobs, income and a profound impact on Las Vegas real estate markets, both commercial and residential, Coulson said this type of investment would make Las Vegas’ economy stronger, as its industrial base starts to become more diverse.
This wave of diversification in industry doesn’t come without the need for a strong backbone of infrastructure, especially the need for higher education. Coulson said growth in sectors such as technology and others requires a lot of human capital. And good universities are an integral part of fulfilling that need.
UNLV has made several strides to help bring some of that alive in the city. Coulson pointed to the entrance of the new medical school and the universities’ initiative to become a Tier 1 research institution.
Though the valley’s potential is bubbling over, Coulson is excited to head back to Orange County — where he is originally from. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Riverside and his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.
“UNLV has a great trajectory, and in many ways, I’m going to be sorry not to be a part of that, but going to Irvine is a dream come true,” Coulson said.