Most people thought it might never happen, much less happen in
five short years.
The housing sector is back in the United States.
After going through its darkest hour, people are buying houses
again and investors are makingmoney from dividends and capital
Last month,investing in
KKR & Co. (
as a solid play for the single-family housing recovery. Since
my article was published, thestock is up about 16%.
Today I want to talk about a different way to play the housing
recovery... REITs, orreal estate investment trusts.
There are all kinds of REITs... from shopping centers to housing
to apartment REITs.
With even the hardest-hit markets recovering, like Phoenix and
Orlando, you might think apartment REITs would be going
gangbusters. Surprisingly, that's not the case.
Last year, U.S. housing REITs returned 19.7%. In contrast,
apartment REITs were only ahead 6.9%, according to the National
Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT). In fact, the
apartment REIT sector was the worst performing in the entireindex
So what gives?
For starters, some investors say that since single-family homes
are seeing an influx, fewer people are moving into apartments. That
is causing investors to focus their attention on housing REITS.
But that's a mistake.
David Lee, who manages a $3.6 billion real estatefund for T.
Rowe Price, recently said this about REITs: "People believe it's a
zero-sum game, that if for-sale housing is doing well, then
rentalswill not do as well."
In fact, Lee says it's a "win-win situation."
Andy McCulloch, head of Research at Green StreetAdvisors , which
specializes in U.S. real estate trends, agrees: There's a
"misconception that growing momentum in the single familymarket
will hurt the rental market."
So how could it be that if the single-family housing market is
booming, then the apartment rental sector is also doing well? The
answer comes from different projections based on how many new
households will be formed between now and 2016...
In that time, some 5.5 million new households are expected to be
formed. Of these, 3.8 million, or nearly 70%, will be renters, says
Jeffrey Friedman,CEO of apartment
REIT Associated Estates Realty (Nasdaq: AEC)
It's that astronomical number that has me calling America the
"Renter Nation." And it's why I am considering apartment REITs
This is just the start of the good news for apartment REITs...
Those 3.8 million renters are going to be fighting with each other
for less and less space.
Let me explain...
Theuptick in new households is going so fast, that demand is
outpacing supply by 2.5 million apartments, according to a March
report from the NAREIT.
This supply/demand dynamic could lead to increasing income for
That, plus the 2012 underperformance of apartment REITs, make
this an opportune time to enter the sector.
You would think with numbers like these, the financial media
would cover more apartment REITs, but they seem focused on people
buying single-family homes. However, you can use that to your
advantage and jump in before other investors.
If you want to use REITs as an easy way to play the surge in
demand, then there are several options.
The larger REITs such as
Equity Residential (
Avalon Bay (
Camden Property Trust (
offer yields of about 3%. But I just recently profiled an apartment
that yields about 7%. (Out of fairness to my subscribers, I won't
give away the pick.)
Risks to Consider:
Of course, with investing, nothing is guaranteed. A slowdown in
theeconomy could slow the pace of new households and rents could
Action to Take -->
With that said... thanks to strong occupancy rates, rising rents,
increasing household formation and a supply-demand gap, apartment
REITs may be a good place toput some money right now.
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