Financial investors in Brazil's commercial property markets: a comparative analysis of REITs, pension funds, and listed property companies

Authors: Daniel Sanfelici*, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Maira Magnani, Universidade Federal Fluminense
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Financialization; REITs; Pension Funds; Listed Property Companies; Real Estate Market
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over the past decade, Brazil has witnessed a sharp growth in the creation of new real estate investment trusts (Sanfelici & Halbert, 2019). As of 2020, REITs own over BRL 120 billion (USD 25 billion) in (mostly commercial) property assets, and the number of shareholders in these vehicles has already exceeded one million (mostly domestic middle and upper-income individuals). However, the growth of REITs is part of a broader trend in Brazil’s commercial property market since the early 2000s: the decline in traditional forms of property ownership (small individual investors, family-owned developers, owner-occupiers, etc) and the rise of institutional ownership. This shift calls for a better understanding of how domestic investors, with large sums of money under management, conduct investments in real estate, how they understand that category of investment, and the channels they use to invest. This paper looks into the investment practices of three groups of property investors in Brazil’s commercial property market: real estate investment trusts; listed property firms; and pension funds. We analyze key variables that explain differences in investment practices, such as liability structure, governance models, and stakeholder participation in decision-making. Our results show that, while these actors are indeed increasingly financialized, there remain differences in risk-taking behavior and investment priorities that deserve to be taken into account, with key implications for urban development and policy-making.

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