Justin Benefield, associate professor of finance, was ranked 21st among the top real estate authors worldwide for 2011–15 by Real Estate Academic Leadership rankings.
“The purpose of the Real Estate Academic Leadership rankings is to highlight the authors and institutions demonstrating achievement in intellectual contributions to the field of real estate,” said Jesse Saginor of Florida Atlantic University, who produced the rankings.
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These rankings are based on the number of publications from 2011–15 in the top three peer-reviewed real estate journals, which are “Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics,” the “Journal of Real Estate Research” and “Real Estate Economics.”
Benefield co-authored six publications in the three journals during that time.
“For the most part, what I publish is related to residential real estate brokerage, and that’s reflected in most of those publications in those top three journals — looking at topics like does limited service brokerage work for real estate consumers as opposed to the traditional commission model of real estate sales,” Benefield said.
Benefield said he is currently working on other projects, which he has hopes will get in those top journals as well.
“One of them is looking at this relatively new concept of co-listings, and we’re using that basically as a proxy to look at this idea of teams in real estate brokerage,” Benefield said. “So that’s a project I’m pretty excited about, and it’s something that the general public has some level of familiarity with.”
In total, since 2011, Benefield has had 16 publications, and he has only been out of school for 10 years.
“You have to be interested in what you’re doing in order to put the kinds of hours in that are necessary, and I’ve been fortunate in that I am really interested in the topics I study,” Benefield said. “It does touch on people’s real lives. The single largest investment that most people are going to make is their house, and I like to look at things that have to do with that buying process, so there are real world applications, which I think is neat.”
Ken Johnson, associate dean and finance professor at Florida Atlantic University, said he was a graduate student at the University of Alabama and was teaching undergraduate real estate classes when he first met Benefield.
“As a senior at the University of Alabama, he wrote a paper that was for a class that was eventually published,” Johnson said. “It was an excellent article especially for a first time, first pass, and I could tell even then that he had the potential to do something like this. He wasn’t necessarily considering being an academia, but he was able to read the other academic papers, understand them, synthesize them, do some statistical analysis. He kind of had all the parts in place even as a senior in his undergraduate college career.”
Johnson said he has since co-authored somewhere between four and six papers with Benefield.
“Justin is really good with understanding what we would call the literature,” Johnson said. “He could read significant numbers of papers and see where items are missing in the literature. He has a natural ability to do that.”
Benefield is also excellent with econometrics and makes virtually no errors in his work, and he is an exceptional writer as well, according to Johnson.
“He can boil down all the high-end academics to something that somebody can understand and use to make a decision in their life,” Johnson said. “So we would call that having impact in academia.”
Johnson said Benefield is an editor with Florida Atlantic University, and he will be made senior editor of the “Journal of Housing Research” sometime in the next couple of months.
Jon Wiley, real estate professor at Georgia State University, has also known Justin for a long time, as they went to the same graduate school together, wrote under the same dissertation adviser and were both professors at the College of Charleston.
Wiley said this new ranking system is interesting in that it ranks real estate authors based on the publication count of the top three journals from the past five years, rather than counting the number of publications over someone’s lifetime, which could favor people who are no longer active in research but allow them to still end up relatively high on the rankings.
“That is one reason why Justin shows up so high on that list,” Wiley said. “He has had astonishing productivity in that period. He’s published mainly on residential brokerage literature … and he’s done a very good job of moving the literature and our knowledge forward on all these different things that affect housing prices.”
Benefield has also done work in other areas, including sustainable development, according to Wiley.
“Justin did a study on the impact of green design in the market for office space, and that was actually the first study to document that there is an economic benefit to doing sustainable development, and it had a huge impact,” Wiley said. “I think as of today, it’s had almost 200 citations in other published works. As a result of that information coming out, it had a huge impact on the market place as developers went out and were increasingly incentivized and saw the benefits from this research.”
Wiley also noted that while most people have about 30 publications in their whole career, Benefield has had that many publications in just 10 years, with a large number of those publications in top journals.
Wiley credits Benefield’s successes to his carefulness and thoughtfulness as a researcher as well his productivity.
“For just one data observation, he might spend an entire day making sure that it’s exactly right,” Wiley said.
Wiley said a lot of schools would be thrilled about having Justin as part of their faculty.
“He could go to just about any university in the world if he wanted to,” Wiley said. “Auburn’s lucky to have him.”
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