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Real Estate Fund Flows and the Flow-Performance Relationship


  • David H. Downs

    (Virginia Commonwealth University)

  • Steffen Sebastian

    (University of Regensburg)

  • Christian Weistroffer

    (European Central Bank)

  • René-Ojas Woltering

    (University of Regensburg)


Convexity in the flow-performance relationship of traditional asset class mutual funds is widely documented, however it cannot be assumed to hold for alternative asset classes. This paper addresses this shortcoming in the literature by examining the flow-performance relationship for real estate funds, specifically open-end, direct-property funds. This investment vehicle is designed to provide the risk-return benefits of private market real estate and is available to retail investors in many countries across the globe. An understanding of fund flow dynamics associated with this investment vehicle is of particular interest due to the liquidity risk associated with holding an inherently illiquid asset in an open-end structure. Our analysis draws on the theoretical foundations provided in the literature on mutual fund flows, performance chasing, liquidity risk, participation costs and dynamics across market cycles. We focus on German real estate funds from 1990 to 2010 as this is the largest market globally and there is a high level of confidence in the data. The results show that real estate fund investors chase past performance at the aggregate level and the relationship between flows and relative performance is asymmetric (i.e., convex) at the individual fund level. Fund-level liquidity risk tends to weaken convexity, while sensitivity increases with higher participation costs. We find the flow-performance relationship varies across time, though our interpretation is asset and investment vehicle specific. The implications are applicable to investors and fund managers of open-end, direct-property funds and, more broadly, other alternative asset funds where the underlying asset may not be liquid.

Suggested Citation

  • David H. Downs & Steffen Sebastian & Christian Weistroffer & René-Ojas Woltering, 2016. "Real Estate Fund Flows and the Flow-Performance Relationship," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 52(4), pages 347-382, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrefec:v:52:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s11146-015-9539-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s11146-015-9539-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Philipp Gerlach & Raimond Maurer, 2020. "The Growing Importance of Secondary Market Activities for Open-end Real Estate Fund Shares in Germany," Schmalenbach Business Review, Springer;Schmalenbach-Gesellschaft, vol. 72(1), pages 65-106, February.
    2. Barra McCarthy, 2019. "Real estate fund investment in post-crisis Ireland," IFC Bulletins chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Are post-crisis statistical initiatives completed?, volume 49, Bank for International Settlements.
    3. Zehua He & Kexin Hu & Zhongfei Li, 2023. "Drifting from the Sustainable Development Goal: Style Drift in ESG Funds," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(16), pages 1-24, August.
    4. Sebastian Schnejdar & Michael Heinrich & René-Ojas Woltering & Steffen Sebastian, 2020. "The Discount to NAV of Distressed Open-End Real Estate Funds," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 80-114, June.
    5. Charles-Olivier Amédée-Manesme & Fabrice Barthélémy & Jean-Luc Prigent & Donald Keenan & Mahdi Mokrane, 2017. "Modified Sharpe Ratios in Real Estate Performance Measurement: Beyond the Standard Cornish Fisher Expansion," THEMA Working Papers 2017-20, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    6. Sebastian Schnejdar & Michael Heinrich & René-Ojas Woltering & Steffen Sebastian, 2017. "The Discount to NAV of distressed German open-ended real estate funds," ERES eres2017_160, European Real Estate Society (ERES).
    7. Grill, Michael & Molestina Vivar, Luis & Wedow, Michael, 2022. "Mutual fund suspensions during the COVID-19 market turmoil - asset liquidity, liquidity management tools and spillover effects," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(C).
    8. Ciccone, Julien & Marchiori, Luca & Morhs, Romuald, 2022. "The flow-performance relationship of global investment funds," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    9. Eli Beracha & David H. Downs & Greg MacKinnon, 2017. "The 4% rule: Does real estate make a difference?," Journal of Property Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(3), pages 181-210, July.

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    More about this item


    Open-end real estate funds; Fund flows; Flow-performance relationship; Liquidity risk;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage


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