Did Real Estate Professionals Anticipate the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis? Evidence from Insider Trading in the REITs

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Abstract

This research examines whether real estate professionals detected the property bubble and foresaw the consequent financial crisis of 2007-2008. By analysing the insider trading activities within REITs from 1996 to 2010, we find that REIT insiders reduced their holdings significantly during the real estate boom period as early as 2004, before the financial crisis. Difference-in-difference analysis reveals that REIT insiders cashed out their positions more aggressively than insiders in real estate and construction firms. The findings support the informed trader hypothesis that managers and employees in REITs anticipated the burst of the real estate bubble and the imminent financial crisis, and shifted their wealth away from the real estate market to avoid potential losses. We find no evidence to support the biased belief hypothesis (Cheng et al., 2014) that REIT insiders were over-optimistic during the real estate boom period or that their inside trading behaviour was affected by local market performance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Real Estate Finance and Economics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Biased belief
  • Informed trader
  • Insider trading
  • Real estate bubble

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies

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