Given the slow rise of interest rates, is it a good time to invest in real estate?
According to the CBRE 2017 Global Report on U.S. real estate, “Growth and supportive monetary conditions are good for real estate,” but returns in 2017 may not be as good as last year.
The Los Angeles-based commercial real estate services and investment firm, expects office leasing activity to be slightly weaker and vacancy rates slightly higher but it doesn’t expect these developments will be “enough to undermine rents, or even rental growth.” It anticipates total returns in the “4% to 6% range for prime unlevered real estate.“
But many REITs and mutual funds have gained far more so far this year. Here are some top-performing REITs year-to-date through July 26, as ranked by ETFdb.com, as well as top-performing mutual funds ranked by Morningstar.
5 Top Real Estate ETFs
1. Tierra XP Latin America Real Estate (LARE): 30.42% YTD
This 19-month old ETF with only $4.6 million AUM is issued by ETF Managers Group, and invests mainly in a broad swath of Latin American real estate stocks, corresponding to the Solactive Latin America Real Estate Index, with the heaviest weighting in industrial areas. As of July 26, it owned 61 holdings, including Macquarie Mexico Real Estate Management SA de CV and Fibro Uno Administracion SA de CV. Its expense ratio is 0.79%
2. ETRACS Monthly Pay 2xLeveraged Mortgage REIT ETN Series B ETF (MRRL): 29.49% YTD
Issued by UBS and started in 2015 with an ETN structure, this ETF is linked to the MVIS Global Mortgage REITs Index, which is made up of publicly traded mortgage REITs. It has an AUM of $17.4 million with an expense ratio of 0.40%.
3. VanEck Vectors Mortgage REIT Income ETF (MORT): 14.87% YTD
This fund launched in 2011 by VanEck, also tries to replicate the MVIS Global Mortgage REITs Index. Some of its top holdings include Annaly Capital Management, AGNC Investment Corp. and Starwood Property Trust Inc. It has an AUM of $143 million and expense ratio of 0.41%
4. iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF (REM): 14.45% YTD
This ETF, launched by iShares in 2007, has $1.3 billion under management with a 0.48% expense ratio. It invests in residential and commercial real estate, mortgage finance, and savings association sectors of the U.S. equity market. Its top three holdings are in Annaly Capital Management, AGNC Investment Corp. and Starwood Property Trust.
5. SuperDividend REIT ETF (SRET): 11.55% YTD
Issued by Global X, this fund with $43 million AUM was launched in 2015 and has a 0.58% expense ratio. It follows the Solactive Global SuperDividend REIT Index, and its top holdings include Gaming and Leisure Properties, Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust and Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust.
5 Top Real Estate Mutual Funds
We asked Morningstar to provide a list of top-performing real estate mutual funds with at least a three-year history. These are the top five performers over the three years ended July 26, including their annualized returns and annual net expense ratios.
1. Guggenheim Risk Managed Real Estate Inst. (GURIX): Total return annualized over 3 years: 10.7%
The YTD return as of July 26 was 7%. The fund, launched in early 2014, has $123.4 million in assets and an expense ratio of 1.0%. Top holdings include Equinix Inc., Simon Property Group, Prologis Inc., Public Storage and Equity Residential.
2. Altegris/AACA Opportunistic Real Estate Inst. (RAAIX): 3-year annualized return: 10.6%
Its YTD return is 10.9%. Launched in early 2012, the fund has $186 million in assets and an expense ratio of 1.55%. The fund invests in long-biased strategy in companies that own real assets. Largest net exposure now is in cell towers, data centers, gaming and infrastructure. Top holdings include New Residential Investment Corp., Cadiz, Inc., and Equinix, Inc.
3. Cohen & Steers Real Estate Securities A (CSEIX): 3-year annualized return: 10.5%
This fund has $3.9 billion in assets and an expense ratio of 1.19% and has returned 4.2% YTD. Total return fund focuses on real estate stocks of all sizes including REITs, with top holdings being Simon Property Group (regional malls), Equinix Inc. (data centers), AvalonBay Communities Inc. (Apartments) and UDR Inc. (Apartments).
4. Alpine Realty Income & Growth Instl. (AIGYX): 3-year annualized return: 9.2%
The $111 million fund has a YTD return of 6.3% and a net expense ratio of 1.29%. The fund has been trading since 1998 and seeks a high level of current income and is invested primarily in real estate stocks. It can invest up 35% in foreign issuers and top holdings include Simon Property Group, Boston Properties, and Essex Property Trust.
5. TIAA-CREF Real Estate Sec. Institutional (TIREX): 3-year annualized return: 9.1%.
This $1.4 billion fund has an expense ratio of 0.5% and its YTD return is 8.4%. The fund invests in both equities and fixed income securities of companies mainly engaged in the real estate business. Top holdings include: American Tower REIT, Boston Properties Inc. and Simon Property Group Inc.
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