In Real Estate Investment We Trust: State De-Risking and the Ownership of Listed US and German Residential Real Estate Investment Trusts

Manuel Aalbers*, Zac Taylor, Tobias Klinge, Rodrigo Fernandez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


 Real estate investment trusts (REITs) have been around since 1960 but have only become major players in housing markets in the last twenty years. The current and ongoing wave of residential REIT (R-REIT) expansion has attracted significant scholarly and broader public interest. This article examines how real estate, finance, and the state are configured in relation to each other through R-REITs. While much of the housing financialization literature has focused on the real estate/state axis of this relationship, we explore the underexamined connections between the real estate/finance axis and the finance/state axis of the real estate–finance–state triangle. We analyze the financial accounts of the world’s fifteen largest publicly traded R-REITs and R-REIT–like funds in the two largest markets: the United States and Germany. Our findings demonstrate how the ownership of R-REIT stock is remarkably homogeneous: the largest shareholders in each of the studied R-REITs are the three largest index exchange-traded funds, which are heavily backed by pension fund capital. For these investors, it is important that R-REITs provide a healthy return on investment at the lowest possible risk. The investors require the state, in its various guises, to guarantee attractive risk-adjusted returns on R-REITs investments. We identify six dimensions of state de-risking in this context, deepening our understanding of the role of the state in housing financialization. It is the state that creates the trust in real estate investment trusts, and it thus is what generates the investment in real estate investment trusts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-335
Number of pages24
JournalEconomic Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • housing
  • financialization
  • real estate investment trust (REIT)
  • exchange traded fund (ETF)
  • institutional investors
  • asset class


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