The impact of real estate on the mixed-asset portfolio in periods of financial stress
Lee, S., (2003) The impact of real estate on the mixed-asset portfolio in periods of financial stress. Working Papers in Real Estate & Planning. 04/03. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp17.
The case for holding real estate in the mixed-asset portfolio is typically made on its stabilising effect as a result of its diversification benefits. However, portfolio diversification often fails when it is most needed, i.e. during periods of financial stress. In these periods, the variability of returns for most asset classes increases thus reducing the stabilising effect of a diversified portfolio. This paper applies the approach of Chow et al (1999) to the US domestic mixed-asset portfolio to establish whether real estate, represented by REITs, is especially useful in times of financial stress. To this end monthly returns data on five assets classes: large cap stocks, small cap stocks, long dated government bonds, cash (T-Bills) and real estate (REITs) are evaluated over the period January 1972 to December 2001. The results indicate that the inclusion of REITs in the mixed-asset portfolio can lead to increases or decreases in returns depending on the asset class replaced and whether the period is one of calm or stress. However, the inclusion of REITs invariably leads to reductions in portfolio risk that are greater than any loss in return, especially in periods of financial stress. In other words, REITs acts as a stabilising force on the mixed-asset portfolio when it is most needed, i.e. in periods of financial stress.