Illiquidity, Transaction Cost, and Optimal Holding Period for Real Estate: Theory and Application
28 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2010 Last revised: 12 Feb 2011
Date Written: March 29, 2010
Choosing the optimal holding period is an important part of real estate investment decisions, because “when to sell” affects “whether to buy.” This paper presents a theoretical model for such decision making. Our model indicates that the optimal holding period is affected by both systematic and non-systematic factors - market conditions (illiquidity and transaction cost) and property performance (return and return volatility). Other things being equal, higher illiquidity and transaction costs lead to longer holding periods, while higher return volatility implies shorter holding periods. Our empirical application suggests that the optimal holding period based on our model is quite consistent with previous empirical findings. In addition, we find that when illiquidity risk is incorporated the true real estate risk is significantly higher than the conventional risk estimate. Therefore, the current practice of real estate valuation, which is naively borrowed from finance theory, substantially underestimates real estate risk.
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