REIT and Commercial Real Estate Returns: A Post Mortem of the Financial Crisis
Real Estate Economics, Forthcoming
Posted: 2 Oct 2013
Date Written: September 27, 2013
In the years surrounding the financial crisis, the share prices of equity Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) were much more volatile than the underlying commercial real estate prices. To better understand this phenomenon we examine the cross-sectional dispersion of REIT returns during this time period with a particular focus on the influence of their capital structures. By looking at both the debt ratio and the maturity structure of the debt we separate the pure leverage effect from the effect of financial distress. Consistent with leverage and financial distress costs amplifying the price decline, we find that the share prices of REITs with higher debt to asset ratios and shorter maturity debt fell more during the 2007 to early 2009 crisis period. Although REIT prices rebounded with the bounce back in commercial real estate prices, financial distress costs had a permanent effect on REIT values. In particular, we find that REITs with more debt due during the crisis period tended to sell more property and issue more equity in 2009, when prices were depressed.
Keywords: REIT, Leverage, Debt Maturity, Financial Distress
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