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Remembering the professor

Shocked and saddened. It may be a cliché, but it’s exactly how I felt when I read that Nasser Daneshvary, director of the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies, died last week. UNLV just released a statement on his untimely passing. The economics professor was my first source for all things real estate. He kept detailed statistics on foreclosures and home sales all over the valley, and was always available for an interview. Daneshvary could patiently and clearly explain the ins and outs of the housing market, even to a slightly disheveled alt-weekly writer with virtually no experience in business reporting.

Daneshvary made a splash when he published a 2010 paper on the toxic effects of foreclosed homes. He used data from the Las Vegas housing market to show how neighborhoods suffer when large numbers of homes are seized by banks. Foreclosed homes drag down the value of all the homes in a neighborhood. When too many homes go into foreclosure, then all the homes sell for around the same rock-bottom, foreclosure price, even short sales and traditional sales. Daneshvary endorsed policies that would encourage short sales in lieu of foreclosure. And he thought banks should rewrite mortgages and reduce principal for some underwater homeowners.

His death is a huge loss for his family and students. And also for the valley, which can’t afford to lose housing market experts like Daneshvary. He was one of the ones who learned from the bust, and who would have kept those lessons alive in the next runaway market.