Short Interests in Real Estate Investment Trusts


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Deqing Diane Li, Kenneth Yung

56 / 70




International Real Estate Review


We examine short interests in equity real estate investment trusts (REITs) between 1994 and 2001. Our results show that only high levels (the 90th percentile) of short interest are associated with significant negative REIT returns as the bearish content of short interest may have been mitigated by the favorable risk characteristics of real estate securities. In addition, the significant negative relationship between short interest and REIT returns applies only to REITs with poor performance. The result implies that the bearish sentiment of short interest could also be mitigated by good REIT managers in a real estate market that is informationally inefficient. The results of a logistic regression model further show that the short selling of REIT shares can be explained by firm-specific factors such as operating efficiency, fundamental value, and liquidity. Given that short interest is not indiscriminately associated with negative REIT returns and that the short positions are firm-specific, the results are consistent with implications that short interests in REITs represent attempts to make short-term profits rather than general bearishness regarding real estate investments.

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