Changes in REIT Liquidity 1988–2007: Evidence from Daily Data

Susanne E. Cannon and Rebel A. Cole

Online First™, 8 September 2010


In this study, we present panel-data evidence on REIT liquidity and its determinants over the 1988–2007 period. We focus upon liquidity measures that do not require micro-structure data (1) to facilitate use of our results as benchmarks for comparisons with results from international markets for which micro-structure data may be unavailable, (2) to provide benchmarks that do not require access to costly (and voluminous) micro-structure data. We find that REIT liquidity improved during the early and mid-1990s, deteriorated during the late 1990s, and then improved dramatically during 2000–2006, with the notable exception of 2007. Liquidity improved the most for REITs traded on the NYSE, and was an order of magnitude better than liquidity of REITs traded on the AMEX or NASDAQ. We link the deterioration in liquidity observed in 2007 to the investment portfolio of a REIT. We find that the percentage bid-ask spread is highly correlated with the measure of price impact proposed by Amihud (2002). We provide panel-data evidence on the key determinants of the percentage bid-ask spread that largely confirms the results reported by Bhasin et al. (1997) for 1990 and 1994: the percentage spread is a positive function of the volatility of stock returns, and a negative function of dollar volume turnover, share price and market capitalization. Finally, we provide evidence that these results obtained using daily closing bid- and ask-prices are not qualitatively different from those obtained using market micro-structure data. This suggests that we can use liquidity measures based upon readily available daily return data rather than being forced to rely upon market micro-structure data.

Keywords  Bid-ask spread – Depth – Liquidity – Price impact – REIT

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