Ron Throupe

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Ron Throupe is an associate professor at the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management. He also has 35 years of experience in various roles in the real estate and construction industries, and at major universities. He has been a licensed general contractor and is a certified general appraiser in the states of Washington and Colorado. Ron is a consultant on valuation methods and is the managing partner of American Valuation Partners. He previously provided expert valuation and consultation services on a full-time basis in Seattle as director of operations of Greenfield Advisors, a national real estate consulting and appraisal firm. He has conducted research, published extensively and makes presentations to the American Real Estate Society annual meetings, the National Hazard Mitigation Conference, the Appraisal Institute national meetings and Law Seminars International. He is a frequent commentator in news media locally and nationally on real estate issues.

What do you research? What got you interested in that field?

I used to run Greenfield Advisors in Seattle as Director of Operations. We did many of the major real estate damage cases around the country—my predecessor was the lead expert on the Exxon Valdez oil spill and land effects case, and I worked on later litigation stemming from the 1994 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease on the Celebrity Cruises ship (floating hotel). I was also a lead expert in the aftermath of the BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina. So I focus my research on property value effects.

What have you been working on recently?

I’m working in Greeley where I’m looking at a drainage system that wasn’t properly implemented and trying to figure out how much of a diminution in value there’s going to be due to the risk of future flooding. In addition, five or six years ago I wrote a paper on hydrofracking and drilling, and it got enormous publicity at the time, so I’m also doing a follow-up on that paper that brings the larger geographic area conversation down to the level of a neighborhood in Firestone, which should produce metrics that are more applicable to a smaller area than what other researchers have found. I’m also working on a case about high power lines too, again with an eye toward the effect on property values. Never mind studies on construction defects and long-term stigmatization of properties.   

Can you discuss your methodologies?

Some of it’s academic, some of it’s practice. Taking the Greeley drainage system case, for example, we’ll still do academic hedonic regression models to try to figure out a price difference for whatever the negative effect on the property values is. I also have to do a kind of traditional methodology in the profession where I pick out a handful of properties that sold and see if, were it not for the drainage issue in the backyards, would these have sold for more? So I mix academic and industry methods. Looking at the hydrofracking case in Firestone, we have 200 observations, which is small for a data set. So we have to really dig in to make sure we get each sale right because we don’t want one sale to influence the whole dataset for statistical modeling

How do you bring your research into the classroom?

I’m lucky in that I get to work on all of these interesting consulting cases, which I can often evolve into a paper that I can then bring to class. It’s a real advantage of being out in the field. I teach the undergraduate and graduate valuation courses, along with feasibility and investments. The valuation courses are a little more clear cut because I’m teaching them methods of property valuation. So I get to show them how methods are the foundation of valuation, but the real-world scenarios out there add so many other factors into the mix. I use my case work examples all the time because they really highlight the pros and cons of pure methodology. It keeps me fresh because none of these cases are straightforward. I tell my students that the mistakes they make are not going to be in calculations, they’re going to be in logic. They’ve got to be framing their work in really sound and supportive arguments.

What is your goal for your research?

If I can’t affect the real world out there and what people are doing, and how they’re doing it, I’m not succeeding. For example, I did a paper on special purpose properties that came out of a project again.  It won national awards and the Appraisal Institute recognized me for contribution to the profession. The method and process I created is now the industry accepted way to assess and value special purpose property. If you aren’t using this process and methodology, people question you. So when I see some of the work that I’ve done become standard practice, I’m glad that I’ve created something that will outlive me.