Real Estate

Real Estate Sector (VNQ) Vanguard ETF

The investment seeks to provide a high level of income and moderate long-term capital appreciation by tracking the performance of a benchmark index that measures the performance of publicly traded equity REITs. The fund employs an indexing investment approach designed to track the performance of the MSCI US REIT Index. The index is composed of stocks of publicly traded equity real estate investment trusts (known as REITs). It attempts to replicate the index by investing all, or substantially all, of its assets in the stocks that make up the index, holding each stock in approximately the same proportion as its weighting in the index.

Demographics are the data that describes the composition of a population, such as age, race, gender, income, migration patterns and population growth. These statistics are an often overlooked but significant factor that affects how real estate is priced and what types of properties are in demand. Major shifts in the demographics of a nation can have a large impact on real estate trends for several decades. For example, the baby boomers who were born between 1945 and 1964 are an example of a demographic trend with the potential to significantly influence the real estate market.

Interest Rates

Interest rates also have a major impact on the real estate markets. Changes in interest rates can greatly influence a person’s ability to purchase a residential property. That is because as the interest rates fall, the cost to obtain a mortgage to buy a home decreases, which creates a higher demand for real estate, which pushes prices up. Conversely, as interest rates rise, the cost to obtain a mortgage increases, thus lowering demand and prices of real estate.

The Economy

Another key factor that affects the value of real estate is the overall health of the economy. This is generally measured by economic indicators such as the GDP, employment data, manufacturing activity, the prices of goods, etc. Broadly speaking, when the economy is sluggish, so is real estate. However, the cyclicality of the economy can have varying effects on different types of real estate.

Government Policies/Subsidies

Legislation is also another factor that can have a sizable impact on property demand and prices. Tax credits, deductions and subsidies are some of the ways the government can temporarily boost demand for real estate for as long as they are in place. Being aware of current government incentives can help you determine changes in supply and demand and identify potentially false trends. For example, in 2009, the U.S. government introduced a first-time homebuyer’s tax credit to homeowners in an attempt to jump-start home sales in a sluggish economy.

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