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The story I wrote last week about President Donald Trump risking crashing the New York real estate market with his tough stance of China raised some interest among subscribers.
In a nutshell, the story argued that as China tightens capital controls to try to put a floor under its currency, Chinese investors no longer will be able to keep up the pace of property buying in hotspot cities around the world, potentially causing a crash of overheated markets.
Some subscribers have emailed to ask what instruments are available out there to short the New York real estate market and other global hotspots, most notably London.
While I do not like the idea of shorting anything, it is very risky, because you must be absolutely certain not just about the validity of your thesis, but also about the timing. I was curious to see what securities are out there that offer exposure to these hot markets that, with Chinese investment slowing, seem to be cooling off.
The iShares Residential Real Estate Capped ETF (REZ) has the word "residential" in its name but is more than that, as it tracks a market-cap weighted index of U.S. residential, health care and self-storage real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Financial data and information company FactSet says this ETF "could be thought of best as an ex-commercial REIT play," but adds that it has "decent liquidity and efficiency." Residential REITs make up 48% of this ETF, so it does offer pretty good exposure to residential real estate.
If you are looking for a purely residential instrument, there's the Equity Residential REIT (EQR) , which has real estate guru Sam Zell as one of its founders. It develops, buys, operates and manages multifamily residential properties, mainly in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Southern California.
This REIT reports results for the fourth quarter of 2016 today after the market close. FactSet says the consensus estimate of analysts sees EQR posting funds from operations (FFO) of $0.79 per share in the quarter, which would be lower than $0.93 in the same period of 2015.
Equity Residential's stock price lost more than 21% over the past year as its sales declined every quarter by low double-digit percentages year on year. Along with a slowdown in Chinese investment, the real estate market also is faced with a slowdown in the creation of high-paying jobs as well as a glut of new apartments coming to the market.