Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.


REITs, a Global Phenom

The world embraces an American original.

Once tax and regulatory details are ironed out, Britain and Germany will become the newest markets for real estate investment trusts. By late this year or in 2007, they'll join Australia, France, Hong Kong and Japan among major countries that have recently authorized REITs. The first Israeli REIT opened in January. Indian developers want the government to create REITs there.

REITs trade like stocks and pass through dividends from apartments, shopping centers, offices and other properties. U.S. REITs have returned an average of 20% annually for the past five years and 16% for the past ten, easily outpacing the broad stock indexes and also paying a higher yield than bonds and bank savings. Overseas real estate markets are also healthy. Typically, foreign REITs are patterned after the U.S. kind, which must pay 90% of the trust's income as a dividend. The best way to sample these new REITs is via global and real estate mutual funds -- whose horizons just got a little broader.