To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Developers’ heterogeneity and real estate development timing options

Zhi Dong (Department of Property, The University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand)
Tien Foo Sing (Department of Real Estate, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Journal of Property Investment & Finance

ISSN: 1463-578X

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to examine developers’ optimal development timing when developers are heterogeneous and have different marginal costs in a real estate development market.


This study uses a multiple-player game theoretic real option model and provides tractable results of asymmetric development strategies from a two-stochastic-variable model. Anecdotal evidence and market observations are presented.


Stronger developers (with low marginal costs) exercise real estate development options earlier than weaker developers (with high marginal costs). However, the interval time between developments by stronger and weaker developers decreases in rental volatilities. Real estate with a high positive externality are developed earlier than real estate with a low or negative externality.

Practical implications

Weaker and smaller developers are advised to undertake projects having positive externalities from vicinities. Government agencies are recommended to use tools of zoning and urban planning to prioritise developments introducing positive externalities and to facilitate the growth of weaker and smaller developers. This may subsequently help reduce incentive for land banking and oversupply in real estate space market.


This research is probably the first to explicitly incorporate developers’ heterogeneous strength in real estate development timing options with multiple developers in a competitive market. It sheds additional insights into the understanding of potential problems of development cascades, under the interactive effects between exogenous policy changes and endogenous response from asymmetric developers.



Dong, Z. and Sing, T.F. (2017), "Developers’ heterogeneity and real estate development timing options", Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Vol. 35 No. 5, pp. 472-488.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited