New study favors REITs for total net returns
1 The battle over whether private real estate or publicly traded REITs are a better investment carries on. But the REIT side of the debate just got some additional bragging rights from a newly released 14-year study of asset classes based on actual return and fee data provided by more than 300 U.S. defined benefit plans with $2.8 trillion of assets under management. The research, covering the period 1998 through 2011 and conducted by CEM Benchmarking, showed that listed equity REITs were the top-performing asset class in terms of net total returns. Though private equity had a higher gross return on average than listed REITs (13.31 percent versus 11.82 percent), the former charged fees nearly five times higher on average than REITs (238.3 basis points or 2.38 percent of gross returns for private equity compared with 51.6 basis points or 0.52 percent for REITs). As a result, listed equity REITs realized a net return of 11.31 percent versus 11.10 percent for private equity.