, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 203-220

The sensitivity of bank stock returns to real estate

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According to the Federal Reserve Board, banking firms have recently been shifting significantly larger portions of their loan portfolios into real estate. This increase in real estate lending has caused concern about the continuing economic health of banks on the part of state and federal regulators, since changes in real estate returns, evidenced by changes in property value, can potentially have a significant impact on bank default risk and profit-ability. However, concerned parties do not seem to have explicitly considered the relationship between mortgage default risk and the specific characteristics of real estate investments.

This study examines the sensitivities of stock returns for different bank groups, based on the percentage of total loans in real estate and the percentage of loans in five different mortgage categories (construction and development loans, farmland loans, one- to four-family residential loans, multifamily residential loans, and nonresidential and nonfarm loans), to changes in real estate market returns. This is done by developing and using a three-index model.

The results of this study indicate that bank stocks, overall, are very sensitive to changes in real estae returns. Banks, with a larger portion of their total loans invested in all types of real estate loans, except farmland loans, are most sensitive to changes in real estate returns.