To outsiders -— still far more numerous than insiders -— real estate investing has never seemed particularly attractive. Where insiders see obvious progress, outsiders see things that have always been problematic about real estate investing. However, the attractive returns and diversification value of real estate are hard to ignore. This article reviews the traditional argu-ments for real estate: first, real estate has been proven to be a good diversifier of portfolios, one that lowers volatility of results in a way that enhances risk-adjusted return; second, real estate is an income generator; and third, because of important changes in the industry over the past decade, liquidity and transparency are up, cyclicality is down, and leverage is lower. The range of returns from top to bottom quartile in real estate investing has been similar to those from equities, and the overall returns have been comparable. Real estate today looks like a decent relative bet, given where the other major asset classes are starting.
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