ARES MEMBER PROFILE
Bennie D. Waller Professor of Finance and Real Estate & Director of the Center for Financial Responsibility
College of Business and Economics, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
By: Jesse Saginor, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
Bennie Waller grew up in southern Virginia on a tobacco farm. He credits his work ethic to his parents as his motivation to pursue his education. Bennie’s parents worked incredibly hard for menial compensation as small farmers. Bennie received his undergraduate degree from Longwood in 1990 and thirteen years later, returned as a faculty member.
Upon graduating from Longwood, Bennie found jobs scarce, and most companies were looking to hire MBAs. As a result, he enrolled in the MBA program at UNC-Wilmington in the spring of 1991, completing it in 1993. While there, Bennie had an assistantship, where he worked closely with many faculty members, leading him to pursue his PhD and an academic career. In 1992, when Bennie was looking at PhD programs, one of his professors at UNC-Wilmington advised him to study real estate at Ole Miss with Dennis Tosh. Thus, in 1998, Bennie received his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi with minors in real estate, management information systems, and quantitative methods.
Bennie’s first job after receiving his first PhD was to work with a start-up software financial service/valuation firm, FNC, founded by four of his professors at Ole Miss. While working with FNC, Bennie completed coursework for a second PhD in Management Information Systems. Then, after two years at FNC, Bennie took a job as an Assistant Professor at Francis Marion University in 1999. In 2002, Bennie moved to Auburn University-Montgomery as an Assistant Professor, where he met Ken Johnson, who provided him with MLS data for his dissertation in MIS. Ken was also a major motivating factor in reinvigorating Bennie’s passion for real estate research. After only a year, Bennie left Auburn-Montgomery to return to Longwood University due to his father’s poor health.
When Bennie arrived at Longwood University in 2003 as an Assistant Professor, there were no real estate classes offered. In 2005, Bennie offered a Principles of Real Estate course. By 2007, Bennie successfully lobbied his department to create a real estate concentration and became Chair of his department that also had only two Finance faculty members at that time. After three years of recruitment and program building, with high student demand for real estate courses, Bennie hired an additional real estate faculty person in 2010 and another in 2013 along with creating a Real Estate concentration in their MBA. Bennie often tells job market candidates that he would rather be associated with excellence, even if that excellence is brief, rather than endure mediocrity forever. His strategy is illustrated in his last five faculty hires from Penn State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of georgia, UNC-Chapel Hill and Northeastern University.
Bennie’s undergraduate student “honors research papers” program has proved so successful that he has researched and written papers with approximately 20 undergraduates, where the majority of them have been presented at academic conferences — many even published in peer-reviewed journals. One such publication with an undergraduate student was published in the Journal of Housing Research and featured in the Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Waller is also the co-author of two real estate textbooks: Real Estate Finance and Investment Decisions in Real Estate that resulted from an interesting story. In 2010, he received a voice mail from Phill Kolbe, a long-time ARES member, asking if he would be interested in becoming a co-author on his textbook, Real Estate Finance. Bennie’s response to Phill, was “Absolutely, I would love such an opportunity, but are you sure that you have the right person?” Phill laughed and told Bennie that his wife ginny recommended him because Ginny had attended a presentation of Bennie’s given in Memphis in 1996. During his presentation back then, Bennie mentioned that his goal was to become a real estate professor. Even before the 3rdedition of Real Estate Financewas completed, Phill invited Bennie to also become a co-author on the 8thedition of Investment Analysis for Real Estate Decisions.
In addition to currently being Professor of Finance and Real Estate (2003-present) and Department Chair (2007-present), Bennie is also the Director of the Center for Financial Responsibility (2013-present) at Longwood University. Dr. Waller’s research and consulting are largely focused on principal-agent and housing externality issues in residential real estate. His more than 30 articles have included publications in Real Estate Economics, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Journal of Real Estate Research, and Journal of Housing Economics. Furthermore, his research has been cited in top media outlets such as MSNBC.com, SmartMoney.com, NPR and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, he holds active real estate salesperson and appraisal educational licenses in Virginia. But most impressively, Bennie and his wife, Louise, are now the Co-Meeting Planners of ARES searching out great locations for future ARES annual meetings.
Bennie credits ARES as providing him with many opportunities through networking and camaraderie. Bennie met Ken Johnson in 2002, and from their numerous relationships evolved into friendships and significant research productivity with many coauthorships to include Randy Anderson, Shelton Weeks, Kim Goodwin, Bill Hardin, Jon Wiley, Geoffrey Turnbull and Velma Zahorivic-Herbert. Additionally, Bennie believes that ARES is in a unique position to be the foremost authority in thought leadership and redefine the importance of real estate in both academia and real estate professions in the future. Bennie and Louise now live in Farmville, Virginia with their daughter, Wellsley, and their three boxers: Buggs Island, Prestwould and Oxford.