Commercial Building at Night


Researcher in Real Estate Economics

I am a Researcher at the Disruptive Technology and Digital Cities Corporate Affiliate Program at Stanford University. The program mission is to bridge the gap between corporations and disruptive technologies. 

I engage with corporations to identify disruptive technology and lead research projects relating to real estate, urban economics and IoT. 

This website provides an overview of my research and teaching.



Professional Biography

I have a background in urban economics and real estate, and have researched various aspects of real estate markets using quantitative methods. My research has covered issues such as foreclosures and the impact of sale mechanism on price, rent control, informational asymmetries on the housing market and office rent determinants. I have academic publications in journals such as the Journal of Housing Economics, the Journal of Real Estate Research and the Journal of Housing and the Built Environment.

In addition to academic publications, I have been engaged in several policy-related research projects, such as co-authoring a report on the distributional effects of rent control for the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council (a government agency that advises the Swedish government on fiscal policy), and developing best practice guidelines for appraisal of development land for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Sweden. As part of my role at  the Digital Cities initiative at Stanford, I co-authored a report covering technologies that make mobility within cities more efficient, which is published by Visa Inc. 

At Stanford, I engage with corporate affiliate members to identify relevant research spaning all disciplines, and conduct research relating to urban economics. My current research projects include data strategies for  real estate and developing a framework for energy benchmarking of buildings. I am also part of a research team that  is developing a platform for converging urban data sources and create insight through machine learning.

I have been engaged in local politics in my hometown of Vaxholm, Sweden, as an elected member of city council (elections of 2014 and 2018) and a member of the building committee. I was a candidate for chairman of the city executive committee (mayor) in the 2018 election. 

Prior to my current role, I was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University. I received my PhD in real estate economics from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. During my PhD studies, I was a visiting graduate student researcher at Stanford University School of Engineering and a visiting scholar at the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business. I hold BSc and MSc degrees with real estate finance concentrations from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and have studied law at Stockholm University.



Founded by the Executive Director Michael Steep and Prof. Raymond Levitt, the Disruptive Technology and Digital Cities Program creates a focused research effort that brings together cross-discipline expertise to explore how emerging technologies will change the way we think about business model development for government and enterprises.

The program has an urban focus when analyzing the impact of disruptive technology—as urban environments are rapidly being digitalized by private corporations selling to commercial markets. As cities grow in importance, data collection and analysis are increasingly urban phenomena. 

The program goal is to bridge the gap between disruptive technology and companies—and provide strategies that connect technology to business models. Rapidly improving networks, sensors, algorithms, meta-materials and cloud computing are all examples of technologies that enable new business models and disrupt old ones. This disruption typically comes from new market entrants as companies often fail at translating opportunities created by technology into value creation. We adress this innovation challenge by working with companies to identify relevant research and create research projects of mutual interest. 

Through the program, I have developed and led Stanford research projects supported by companies such as Asahi Glass,, Jones LangLaSalle and Visa. 

Disruptive Technologies and Digital Cities Program Home Page



Published Academic Papers:

  1. Donner, H. and Steep, M. (2021) 'Monetizing the IoT Revolution'. Sustainability, Forthcoming.

  2. Donner, H.(2020) 'Determinants of a Foreclosure Discount'. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment,35 (4), 1079-1097.

  3. Caesar, C., Donner, H. and Kopsch, F. (2019). ‘The Impact of Leasehold Status on Apartment Price’, Journal of Housing Economics, 46, 1016292

  4. Donner, H. and Loh, T. (2019). ‘Does the Starbucks Effect Exist? – Searching for a Relationship Between Starbucks and Adjacent Rents’, Property Management, 37(4), 562-578.

  5. Donner, H. and Kopsch, F. (2018). ’Housing Tenure and Informational Asymmetries’, Journal of Real Estate Research, 40(2), 155-177.

  6. Donner, H. (2017). ’Foreclosures, Returns, and Buyer Intentions’, Journal of Real Estate Research, 39(2), 189-213.

  7. Donner, H, Englund, P., and Persson, M. (2017). ‘Hyresregleringens fördelningseffekter’ (‘Distributional effects of rent control’, in Swedish), Ekonomisk Debatt (Journal of the Swedish Economic Association), (8)45, 37-50.

  8. Donner, H., Song, H-S. and Wilhelmsson, M. (2016). ’Forced sales and their impact on real estate prices’, Journal of Housing Economics34, 60-68. 

  9. Donner, H. and Persson, A. H. (2015). ’När är det sannolikt att ett avsevärt mycket högre pris kan uppnås vid en exekutiv försäljning av fast egendom?’ (’When is it likely that a considerably higher price can be achieved for a sale of foreclosed property?’, in Swedish), Juridisk Tidskrift (Stockholm University Law Review)(1),15-35

Policy Papers / White Papers:

  1. Donner, H. and Steep, M. (2020). “Urban movement as a data generating activity“, World Car Free Day London Summit 2019.

  2. Donner, H. (2018). ‘Värdering av råmark, byggrätter, och projektfastigheter: arbetssätt, problem och slutsatser’ (’Appraisal of development land and projects: methods, problems and conclusions’, in Swedish), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) / KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

  3. Donner, H., Englund, P., and Persson, M. (2017). ‘Distributional Effects of Deregulating the Stockholm Rental Housing Market’, Swedish Fiscal Policy Council.

  4. Donner, H. (2019) ‘Technology Landscape Survey’, Visa Inc.

Working Papers:

  1. Donner, H. Steep, M., and Peterson, T. (2019). 'Crossing the Urban Data Layer: Mobility as a Data Generating Activity", Working Paper Series, Stanford Global Projects Center, 2019.

  2. Donner H., Eriksson, K., and Steep, K. ‘Digital Cities: Real Estate Development Driven by Big Data’, Working Paper Series, Stanford Global Projects Center, 2018.

Research in Progress:

  1. Donner, H. and Kopsch, F. ‘Socio-Economic Determinants of the Rent Control Subsidy’.

  2. Donner, H. 'Detecting Energy Leakage in Cities: a Data Framework for Sustainability Policies.

PhD Thesis:

Selected Presentations:

  • 2019: VivaTech: How tech will shape urban environments, San Jose, CA (panelist); Disruptive Technologies and Digital Cities Annual Summit, Stanford CA (keynote); Orange Telecom Corporate Council on Smart Cities, San Fransisco, CA. 

  • 2018: Stanford University Disruptive Technologies and Digital Cities Affiliate Meeting, Stanford, CA; American Real Estate Society, Annual Meeting, Fort Myers, FL (session chair).

  • 2016: American Real Estate Society Annual Meeting, Denver, CO; American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association Intl. Conference, Alicante, Spain

  • 2015: American Real Estate Society Annual Meeting, Fort Myers, FL; Western Regional Science Association Annual Meeting, Tucson, AZ.

  • 2014: Western Regional Science Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.



I have taught at the undergraduate, graduate and executive education level. My primary area of teaching is corporate finance, portfolio theory and real estate finance. 

At Stanford University:

  • Spring 2019: Infrastructure Finance (Graduate, Guest Lecturer)

At KTH Royal Institute of Technology:

  • Spring 2018: Applied Mathematics and Statistics for Economists (Undergraduate, Course Responsible Lecturer)

  • Summer 2017: Construction Economy, Calculation and Financing (KTH Executive Education, Lecturer)

  • Fall 2015, 2016: Introductory Econometrics (Graduate, Teaching Assistant)

  • Fall 2016: Real Estate Finance and Investment (KTH Executive Education Norway, Lecturer)

  • Fall 2016: Fundamentals of Residential Real Estate Finance (Undergraduate, Teaching Assistant)

  • Spring 2016: Introductory Microeconomics (Undergraduate, Teaching Assistant)

  • Spring 2014, 2016: Credit Risk Assessment (Undergraduate, Course Responsible Lecturer)

  • Spring 2014, 2015:Property Valuation (Undergraduate, Teaching Assistant)

  • Spring 2013: Organization an d Management (Undergraduate, Lecturer)

  • Spring 2014, 2016, 2018: Supervision of Bachelor’s and Master’s Theses

Other Teaching:

  • Spring 2013, Fall 2014: Developed and taught a course in real estate economics for financial advisors



Herman Donner
Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy (Y2E2) Building
473 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305