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Valuation in US Commercial Real Estate


  • This paper is a direct result from a presentation at the EFMA, Madrid, 2006. The authors thank participants at that conference for stimulating discussions and Jun Liu and Allan Timmermann for useful comments. All remaining errors are our own. Corresponding author: Rossen Valkanov


We consider a log-linearized version of a discounted rents model to price commercial real estate as an alternative to traditional hedonic models. First, we verify a key implication of the model, namely, that cap rates forecast commercial real estate returns. We do this using two different methodologies: time series regressions of 21 US metropolitan areas and mixed data sampling (MIDAS) regressions with aggregate REIT returns. Both approaches confirm that the cap rate is related to fluctuations in future returns. We also investigate the provenance of the predictability. Based on the model, we decompose fluctuations in the cap rate into three parts: (i) local state variables (demographic and local economic variables); (ii) growth in rents; and (iii) an orthogonal part. About 30% of the fluctuation in the cap rate is explained by the local state variables and the growth in rents. We use the cap rate decomposition into our predictive regression and find a positive relation between fluctuations in economic conditions and future returns. However, a larger and significant part of the cap rate predictability is due to the orthogonal part, which is unrelated to fundamentals. This implies that economic conditions, which are also used in hedonic pricing of real estate, cannot fully account for future movements in returns. We conclude that commercial real estate prices are better modelled as financial assets and that the discounted rent model might be more suitable than traditional hedonic models, at least at an aggregate level.

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