Risk and Return on Real Estate: Evidence from Equity REITs

K.C. Chan, Patric H. Hendershott, Anthony B. Sanders

NBER Working Paper No. 3311 (Also Reprint No. r1639)
Issued in March 1990
NBER Program(s):Monetary Economics

We analyze monthly returns on an equally-weighted index of 18 to 23 equity (real property) real estate investment trusts (REITs) that were traded on major stock exchanges over the 1973-87 period. We employ a multifactor Arbitrage Pricing Model using prespecified macroeconomic factors. We also test whether equity REIT returns are related to changes in the discount on closed-end stock funds, which seems plausible given the closed-end nature of REITs. Three factors, and the percentage change in the discount on closed-end stock funds, consistently drive equity REIT returns: unexpected inflation and changes in the risk and term structures of interest rates. The impacts of these variables on equity REIT returns is around 60 percent of the impacts on corporate stock returns generally. As expected, the impacts are greater for more heavily levered REITs than for less levered REITs. Real estate, at least as measured by the return performance of equity REITs, is less risky than stocks generally, but does not offer a superior risk-adjusted return and is not a hedge against unexpected inflation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3311

Published: K. C. Chan & Patric H. Hendershott & Anthony B. Sanders, 1990. "Risk and Return on Real Estate: Evidence from Equity REITs," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 18(4), pages 431-452. citation courtesy of

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