Prospect of divided government rallies real estate stocks

Power-sharing in Washington would dim chances of corporate tax hikes

(Getty, iStock)
(Getty, iStock)

During a week of uncertainty for the country, the stock market had its best performance since April. Real estate stocks were among the big gainers as votes for president and Congress were cast and counted.

Top performers in the industry included large service companies and asset-management firms, proptech and residential home builders. Gains were lower for office, retail, and travel and leisure, as the pandemic continued to weigh on those sectors.

Brookfield Asset Management’s stock gained 8 percent through Thursday, closing at $33.61. Blackstone closed at $57.45, a 14 percent gain for the week. Zillow and Costar had gained 16.7 and 9.7 percent, respectively, as of Thursday’s closing bell.

Residential home builder Lennar, which has proven one of the most pandemic-proof stocks, is up 12.4 percent this week to $78.72 per share.

Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall owner, was losing value earlier this week, but closed Thursday up 0.36 percent for the four days. At $63.47 per share, it is still way off its 52-week high of $147.73.

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The Nasdaq Composite soared 2.6 percent on Thursday and is up 8.5 percent this week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2 percent (and 7 percent over the four days) to 28,390. The S&P 500 rose 1.9 percent Thursday.

Initial uncertainty about voting outcomes shook markets on election night, but a clearer picture has since emerged showing Republicans are likely to retain control of the Senate. While the presidential race was still undecided as of Thursday night, Vice President Joe Biden had more paths to victory than President Donald Trump. Ballots in closely contested states, notably Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona, were still being counted.

Should Biden win, he would have to contend with a Republican-controlled Senate, meaning some of his proposed reforms might have to be scaled back or abandoned.

On Thursday, the Federal Reserve committed to keeping interest rates near zero “over the coming months” and to maintaining its current level of monthly asset purchases — measures welcomed by stock investors.

“These purchases are certainly contributing to record-low mortgage rates, which have enabled an enormous refinance wave, as well as supporting a strong housing market,” said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association.