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Institutional Capital Flows and Return Dynamics in Private Commercial Real Estate Markets



This article examines the short- and long-run dynamics among institutional capital flows and returns in private real estate markets. At the aggregate U.S. level, we find evidence that lagged institutional flows significantly influence subsequent returns. When disaggregating by property type at the national level, we find that capital flows predict subsequent returns in the apartment and office sectors, but not in the retail and industrial markets. At the metropolitan level, we find that the flows help explain subsequent returns in a limited number of core business statistical areas (CBSAs), although these CBSAs collectively represent about 30% of institutional capital. We find no evidence that institutional returns are predictive of future capital flows at the national or CBSA level, suggesting that institutional investors are not chasing returns.