Outperforming the housing market

In 2011 I wrote an article exploring the question of outperforming the housing market by attempting to time real estate transactions. The question was then aimed at home buyers and sellers. New research published in the Journal of Real Estate Research reveals more interesting data as it relates to real estate investors.

outperforming the housing market
markets are cyclical

In my 2011 analysis of research and data, I discussed why attempting to “time the market” as an owner occupant wasn’t very favorable. It appeared as if attempting to time a purchase or sale didn’t yield the desired result. The conclusion was that long term home ownership was probably better than speculating on buying and selling homes on the exact bottom or top of the housing market.

Likewise, home sellers waiting for the housing market to rebound before making a move probably missed an opportunity as well. So, who is outperforming the housing market?

A recent article published by Wong, Deng, and Chau in the Journal of Real Estate Research (Do Short-Term Real Estate Investors Outperform the Market?; 2022, Vol. 44 Issue 2, p287-309) reveals an interesting conclusion.

The study attempted to further look into the incentives of short-term real estate investors, specifically how various market conditions affect short-term real estate investor performance. The study analyzed real estate transaction data from Hong Kong and found that three economic conditions were favorable to the investor’s performance that seem to mimic the current low-inventory market we are experiencing here. The three items that help the investor performance are: 1) having few sale comparables; 2) having sale prices of the comparables dispersed; and 3) market prices go down. The study’s conclusion is that buying and reselling withing three months generates a gross return that is 6 percent above market appreciation. The authors caution that their study is limited such that there are multiple investor strategies that need to be studied as to the effects on short-term real estate investor performance. They describe short-term real estate investors as engaging in arbitrage, which by definition is basically “home flipping.”

By Dan Krell
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