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

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What’s the alternative? The risk-tolerant and knowledge-rich are expected to reap the best returns from the new alternatives

by Jennifer Bollen

Student accommodation, self-storage and even cemeteries — alternative real estate investment has changed dramatically over the years. Traditionally, real estate investors have used the term “alternative” to describe any type of property other than offices, retail premises or industrial space. As an increasing variety of so-called alternative real estate has become mainstream, yield-chasing investors have sought out far more esoteric — and risky — deals.

What are the new alternatives? How accessible are they? And what’s next?

Other meanings

Real estate as a whole has long been lumped into the broader alternative investment category with asset classes to which it bears only a slight resemblance, including private equity, hedge funds and infrastructure. Real estate managers argue that investors ought to consider their sector a different animal.

David Hunter, non-executive chairman of real estate debt investor

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