We examine the extent to which uncertainty delays investment, and the effect of competition on this relationship, using a sample of 1214 condominium developments in Vancouver, Canada built from 1979–1998. We find that increases in both idiosyncratic and systematic risk lead developers to delay new real estate investments. Empirically, a one-standard deviation increase in the return volatility reduces the probability of investment by 13 percent, equivalent to a 9 percent decline in real prices. Increases in the number of potential competitors located near a project negate the negative relationship between idiosyncratic risk and development. These results support models in which competition erodes option values and provide clear evidence for the real options framework over alternatives such as simple risk aversion.
The PDF included here is a preprint version of the published article, which may be found at < http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2008.03.003 >.