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Real Estate ["REIT"] ETFs List
(click on symbol for data and articles)

Broad International REIT Index ETFs
iShares S&P World Ex-US Property Index Fund (WPS)
SPDR DJ Wilshire International Real Estate ETF (RWX)
WisdomTree International Real Estate Fund (DRW)
iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Global Real Estate ex-U.S. Index Fund (IFGL)

Broad US REIT Index ETFs
First Trust S&P REIT Index Fund (FRI)
iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Index Fund (ICF)
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index Fund (IYR)
iShares FTSE NAREIT Real Estate 50 Index (FTY)
streetTRACKS Wilshire REIT ETF (RWR)
Vanguard REIT Vipers ETF (VNQ)

Broad International Regional REIT Index ETFs
iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Asia Index Fund (IFAS)
iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Europe Index Fund (IFEU)
iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT North America Index Fund (IFNA)

Narrow US REIT Index ETFs
iShares FTSE NAREIT Residential Index (REZ)
iShares FTSE NAREIT Industrial/Office Index (FIO)
iShares FTSE NAREIT Retail Index (RTL)
iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REITs Index (REM)

Actively Managed REIT ETFs
Invesco PowerShares Capital Management's Active U.S. Real Estate Fund (PSR)

Leveraged US REIT Index ETFs
ProShares Ultra Real Estate (URE)

Short US REIT Index ETFs
ProShares UltraShort Real Estate (SRS)

What Are They?

  • Real Estate Investment Trusts, knows as "REITs", are publicly traded companies that purchase and manage income generating properties such as offices, apartments or shopping malls (equity REITs) or mortgage loans (mortgage REITs).
  • US REITs are classified for tax purposes as pass-through entities, meaning that they are free from tax at the corporate level. To be classified as a REIT, a real estate company must pay out at least 90% of its taxable income to its shareholders in the form of dividends. Individuals are then taxed on those dividends as normal income, not at the lower rate for stock dividends. (Check this with your accountant.)
  • REIT ETFs are tradeable index funds that hold REIT stocks. Because REITs must pay out at least 90% of their taxable income as dividends, REIT ETFs tend to generate higher dividend yields than other ETFs and are often classified as "dividend paying ETFs".

Why & How To Use Them

  • REITs are a distinct asset class to stocks and bonds, and offer exposure to real estate without the hassle of directly owning and managing property. REIT ETFs therefore provide added diversification to a portofolio.
  • REIT ETFs can also be used to hedge exposure to the real estate market. Individuals who want to purchase property in the future can try to hedge against price rises by purchasing REIT ETFs, and individuals planning to sell property in the future can try to hedge against price declines by selling short REIT ETFs.
  • Residential REIT ETFs are also a tool for speculation on house prices. Some people who believe the housing market is in a bubble have advocated selling short residential REIT ETFs.

What to Look Out For

  • Some people think that REIT ETFs can be used to hedge property prices. But REITs own portfolios of properties that may differ significantly from property owned by individuals, so trying to hedge your house price by shorting a residential REIT ETF may fail. And homebuilder ETFs may be better correlated to house prices.
  • Because REITs pay hefty dividends, shorting REIT ETFs may be expensive, as the short seller is obligated to pay the dividends.
  • The broad REIT indexes tend to be dominated by commercial real estate REITs, such as those owning offices and malls.

Further Reading

This page is part of The Seeking Alpha ETF Selector which sorts ETFs by type, highlights how to use them and what to look out for, and provides links to articles that discuss key issues for investors.

Source: Real Estate [REIT] ETFs