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Debt Capacity of Real Estate Collateral

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Abstract

We study whether real estate assets have a greater positive influence on firm leverage than other tangible assets. Using a large sample of COMPUSTAT firms, we find a significant positive relation between tangibility and leverage in general, and the relation is strongest for real estate collateral. Furthermore, we find that the relation holds only for credit-constrained firms, i.e., those likely to highly value the additional borrowing capacity of real estate. Our results imply that knowing the composition of a firm's tangible assets is important in understanding its leverage. Our findings could help explain why real estate investment trusts are relatively highly leveraged, even though debt offers them no tax benefit.

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