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Coping with Technological Change: The Case of Retail

Posted: 17 Jul 2002  

Peter F. Colwell

University of Illinois

Maxwell O. Ramsland Jr.

Ramsland & Vigen, Inc.


Functional obsolescence in real estate occurs because of technological change. A theoretical model suggests that the early years of building life are characterized by functional obsolescence that is undiminished by reinvestment ("cures" in appraisal terminology). Later, observable functional obsolescence is eliminated by cures. A national, proprietary data set consisting of department store sales is utilized to test these propositions. The test is structured within a hedonic model in which the effect of age represents functional obsolescence and technological change, while other variables control for physical condition and location quality. The empirical results do not permit the rejection of the hypotheses developed from the theory. The mesasured rate of technological change in retail real estate is 1.7% per annum.

Keywords: technological change, functional obsolescence, retail, department stores

Suggested Citation

Colwell, Peter F. and Ramsland, Maxwell O., Coping with Technological Change: The Case of Retail. Journal of Real Estate Finance & Economics, Vol. 26, No. 1. Available at SSRN:

Peter F. Colwell (Contact Author)

University of Illinois ( email )

304B David Kinley Hall
1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-1185 (Phone)
217-244-3102 (Fax)

Maxwell O. Ramsland Jr.

Ramsland & Vigen, Inc. ( email )

600 Lonsdale Building
Duluth, MN 55802
United States

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