Edith Cowan University
Place of Publication
Joondalup, Western Australia
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Accounting, Finance and Economics
Since 1990, the Australian Real Estate Investment Trust (AREIT) sector has experienced substantial growth and popularity. While the AREIT sector had benefit from the increased flow of funds from institutional investors during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the recent impact of the 2008 global financial crisis has been a negative one. In this paper, we examine the sensitivities of annualised AREIT returns against a set of seven firm-specific variables and four market-wide risk variables. Balanced and unbalanced panel regressions are conducted on three sub-periods during 1990 – 2008 corresponding to the major phases in evolution of the AREIT sector. Our regression results find that size has a negative impact on returns, and this effect has been diminishing over time. Overall market risk was also found to be significant and positive only since 2003, suggesting that recently AREITs behave more like stocks and less like defensive assets. The relationship with exchange rate risk has been positive in recent years, due to more AREITs choosing to diversify internationally, particularly in the U.S. property markets. Our findings on the relationship between market-to-book ratios and AREIT returns depart from standard finance literature. In comparison to REITs in other countries, AREITs have shifted their preferences away from property-type diversification and into more specialised investment strategies. We also find contrasting evidence on the impact of international diversification, and that domestic AREITs provide better returns than internationally diversified counterparts. The relationship between returns and short term interest rates was found to be positive and significant prior to 2002, and the relationship with long-term interest rates was found to be negative and significant since 2003, suggesting that AREITs exhibit less bond-like characteristics in the past five years.