Commercial Real Estate Return Distributions: A Review of Literature and Empirical Evidence
University of Reading Working Paper No. 01/00
37 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2001
Date Written: January 2000
This paper reviews the literature on the distribution of commercial real estate returns. There is growing evidence that the assumption of normality in returns is not safe. Distributions are found to be peaked, fat-tailed and, tentatively, skewed. There is some evidence of compound distributions and non-linearity. Public traded real estate assets (such as property company or REIT shares) behave in a fashion more similar to other common stocks. However, as in equity markets, it would be unwise to assume normality uncritically. Empirical evidence for UK real estate markets is obtained by applying distribution fitting routines to IPD Monthly Index data for the aggregate index and selected sub-sectors. It is clear that normality is rejected in most cases. It is often argued that observed differences in real estate returns are a measurement issue resulting from appraiser behaviour. However, unsmoothing the series does not assist in modelling returns. A large proportion of returns are close to zero. This would be characteristic of a thinly-traded market where new information arrives infrequently. Analysis of quarterly data suggests that, over longer trading periods, return distributions may conform more closely to those found in other asset markets. These results have implications for the formulation and implementation of a multi-asset portfolio allocation strategy.
Keywords: Real estate, returns, distributions, normality, asset class
JEL Classification: G10, G12, G14, L85
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation