Morningstar has another educational article about
Historical correlations. This M* chart tracks the rolling 36-month correlation between the Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund (VGSIX) and Vanguard Total stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX), Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VGTSX), and Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBMFX). Note that the popular Vanguard Real Estate ETF (VNQ) has the same underlying holdings as VGSIX.
Sometimes the correlation between REITs and the overall stock market is very high, close to 1, but at other times it is closer to 0.5.
Historical return vs. volatility. Here’s a good stat: From 1972 to 2018, REITs have had a slightly higher average total annual return than the US Total Stock Market (11.4% vs. 10.3%), but also a higher average standard deviation (16.9% vs. 15.5%).
My take. I agree that REITs are not an “alternative” asset class on the level of fine art, music royalties, or Bitcoin. I think common sense would predict that publicly-traded corporations that own commercial property would be at least moderately correlated with the overall stock market. Historically, REITs provided a slightly higher return than stocks but also slightly higher price volatility. Using a broad REIT fund instead of a stock fund (or vice versa) is only going move the needle a relatively small amount.
I personally do
One of the reasons for my REIT slice is that I don’t wish to deal with the potential legal headaches of owning a rental property. However, if you are interested in something closer to direct real estate ownership, see my
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