- September 1, 2014: Vol. 26, Number 8

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It used to be simple: Investors’ economic motivations have gotten complicated

by Roy Schneiderman


One of my favorite Will Rogers sayings is, “Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.” That is, as time moves on, one tends to develop an overly fond and idyllic view of just how things used to be.

But when it comes to real estate equity investment, I think there is some truth to the thought that it sure used to be simpler to figure out what institutional investors were looking for than it is today.

It “used to be” that the universe of large investors was smaller and more homogeneous. The large pools of equity capital for U.S. investment were primarily concentrated in domestic pension funds. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System was the original mega-investor, but today CalPERS is not the largest institution on the real estate block, and nobody even knows for sure how many institutions are larger. It would not be difficult to quickly rattle off five or 10 candidates, and none of them are domestic institutions.

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