- February 1, 2013: Vol. 25, Number 2

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Change Is Good: Bigger, Bolder and Better Real Estate Investment Trusts

by Michael Lester


On Sept. 14, 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower took pen in hand and signed the Cigar Excise Tax Extension, formally creating real estate investment trusts, known by the acronym REITs. The intention of Ike and Congress was to give all investors, large and small, the opportunity to invest in portfolios of commercial real estate. Individual investors liked the idea, but it took pension funds almost 30 years to get enthused about publicly traded stocks.

Today, total retirement savings assets in the United States come to more than $15 trillion. About one-third of those assets are in the traditional defined-benefit plans and the other two-thirds (about $10 trillion) are invested mostly in the public markets in the form of 401(k) plans, IRAs, rollover accounts, etc.

“There’s been a huge uptick in REIT investment among those kinds of plans,” says Michael Grupe, executive vice president of researc

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