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What is Real Estate?

All forms of commercial real estate investment are underpinned by a stock of physical assets — worth an estimated seven trillion dollars — which provides elements of bond-like income with equity-like capital growth. However, real estate is a broad asset class and there are numerous ways of accessing it, through both public and private markets. From direct ownership of assets to buying shares in listed or unlisted securitized vehicles, from ETFs to derivatives, the opportunity set is wide-ranging. This diversity leads to sometimes conflicting views of real estate as an asset class. This research paper helps explain some of the idiosyncrasies of different forms of real estate investment, while demonstrating how accounting for structural and measurement issues can provide a more consistent view of the asset class.