From engineer to real estate researcher

From engineer to real estate researcher

Y&S Nazarian Center Postdoctoral Fellow Roni Golan took a winding path to his current position where he conducts research into the links between housing affordability and migration in Israel with the head of the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate.

"Since then, I haven't looked back."

UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, January 18, 2017 - In 2007, Roni Golan was finishing his junior year as a structural engineering student at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

“I had to take only a couple more classes to complete my degree requirements, and I was starting to think about what additional classes I could take during my senior year,” the Y&S Nazarian Center’s new Postdoctoral Fellow explains.

“I had planned to work professionally as an engineer and the assumption was that I would do what everyone else in my position was doing during their senior year: working at an engineering firm to gain some professional experience,” he says.

However, Golan decided to spend his time in a different way. That decision almost a decade ago would lead him to UCLA, where today he conducts research with Professor Stuart Gabriel of the Ziman Center for Real Estate on the massive real estate boom Israel has undergone over the past several years and its impacts on the Israeli population.

“During my junior year, I came to realize that I had a unique opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself by taking classes in academic fields where there is no single correct answer before I started my engineering career,” Golan recalls.

He decided to take classes from the university’s urban planning program that offered classes on a variety of topics such as psychology, sociology, and law – but again found himself fascinated by a course focusing on a quantitative field: real estate economics.

“While I did get a chance to try new things, I found I still wanted to work primarily with numbers,” he explains.

Though Golan did work briefly as a structural engineer at the Israel Electrical Corporation after completing his Master’s degree, he decided to return to a non-engineering path in academia, “which seemed to offer more challenges.”

Golan went back to the Technion and committed to his new interest in real estate research as a doctoral candidate.

“Since then, I haven’t looked back,” Golan remarks.

After completing his dissertation in the Spring of 2016, Golan became the Y&S Nazarian Center’s Postdoctoral Fellow and currently works with Professor Stuart Gabriel of the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate.

“Looking back to 2007, I don`t know if I am surprised that I ended up where I am today or not, but I am very excited to be here,” said the Postdoctoral Fellow.

At UCLA, Golan is investigating the decade-long boom in the Israeli housing market that began in 2007. During roughly the last ten years, the average housing unit more than doubled in price and in some cities, tripled. This has created a segment of the population commonly called “young families,” which were negatively affected by this price rally.

Golan is looking at the impact of this real estate price rally on migration patterns since 2007. He is examining whether the surge in prices pushed “young families” to the areas outside of Israel’s major populations centers, looking at cities that saw an increase in migration, and assessing the role of affordability in these developments.

With Professor Gabriel, Golan is also working on a new measure for analyzing housing affordability that they hope will correct some of the shortcomings in the traditional measure. They may also use their migration research as a platform for testing the benefits of this new measure.

Golan also hopes to obtain data from the US that will allow him to compare and contrast the dynamics he identifies in Israel with those across the country.

The Postdoctoral Fellow knows that UCLA is a great location for doing his research into real estate markets.

“Housing is a huge issue in Israel and I know it is here in Los Angeles and throughout California as well,” Golan explains. “While I am mostly interested in Israel’s real estate issues, I know I can get some great insights during my year here and hopefully use those to shed some light on some of the real estate trends in the United States.”