NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Irreversible Investment, Real Options, and Competition: Evidence from Real Estate Development

Laarni Bulan, Christopher J. Mayer, C. Tsuriel Somerville

NBER Working Paper No. 12486
Issued in August 2006
NBER Program(s):   CF   EFG

We examine the extent to which uncertainty delays investment and the effect of competition on this relationship using a sample of 1,214 condominium developments in Vancouver, Canada built from 1979-1998. We find that increases in both idiosyncratic and systematic risk lead developers to delay new real estate investments. Empirically, a one-standard deviation increase in the return volatility reduces the probability of investment by 13 percent, equivalent to a 9 percent decline in real prices. Increases in the number of potential competitors located near a project negate the negative relationship between idiosyncratic risk and development. These results support models in which competition erodes option values and provide clear evidence for the real options framework over alternatives such as simple risk aversion.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12486

Published: Bulan, Laarni & Mayer, Christopher & Somerville, C. Tsuriel, 2009. "Irreversible investment, real options, and competition: Evidence from real estate development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 237-251, May.

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