We examine the association between online apartment rental searches and fundamental real estate market variables namely, vacancy rates, rental rates and real estate asset price returns. We find that consumer real estate searches are significantly associated with the market fundamentals after controlling for known determinants of these variables. In particular, we show that apartment rental-related online searches are endogenously and contemporaneously associated with reduced vacancy rate. However, the association between the searches and rental rates is not significant. The searches are also contemporaneously associated with positive returns on the appraised values of multifamily assets. There is some evidence that the searches are fundamentally associated with REIT returns in the short run and that REIT investors watch the online search trends to inform their stock pricing decisions.
The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 13, 2015
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