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Bias or rationality? The case of UK commercial real estate investment

Byrne, P., Jackson, C. & Lee, S. (2013). Bias or rationality? The case of UK commercial real estate investment. Journal of European Real Estate Research, 6(1), pp. 6-33. doi: 10.1108/17539261311312960


The purpose of this paper is to test the hypothesis that investment decision making in the UK direct property market does not conform to the assumption of economic rationality underpinning portfolio theory. The developing behavioural real estate paradigm is used to challenge the idea that investor “man” is able to perform with economic rationality, specifically with reference to the analysis of the spatial dispersion of the entire UK “investible stock” and “investible locations” against observed spatial patterns of institutional investment. Location quotients are derived, combining different data sets. Considerably greater variation in institutional property holdings is found across the UK than would be expected given the economic and stock characteristics of local areas. This appears to provide evidence of irrationality (in the strict traditional economic sense) in the behaviour of institutional investors, with possible herding underpinning levels of investment that cannot be explained otherwise. Over time a lack of distinction has developed between the cause and effect of comparatively low levels of development and institutional property investment across the regions. A critical examination of decision making and behaviour in practice could break this cycle, and could in turn promote regional economic growth. The entire “population” of observations is used to demonstrate the relationships between economic theory and investor performance exploring, for the first time, stock and local area characteristics.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Publisher Keywords: United Kingdom, Commercial property, Investments, Decision making, Real estate investment, Behaviour, Location decision making, Economic development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: Bayes Business School > Finance
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