Real estate exchange traded funds are one of the best ways to play the real estate rally without buying and selling property. REITs, or real estate investment trusts, are another method to access yield minus physical ownership.

“Real estate offers the potential to hedge against rising inflation as rents are generally designed to keep pace with increasing prices. Not to mention that owning physical property and goods can be quite beneficial in periods of sustained inflation. Finally, as a non-correlated asset class, real estate adds a level of diversification to a portfolio and can actually ‘smooth-out’ returns over long stretches of time,” Aaron Levitt wrote for ETF DB.

ETFs have combined the above benefits with low-cost, flexible, diversification that can not be found in another trading vehicle. The income yield that comes with investing in REITs varies, reports Levitt, and it should be noted that different sub-sectors can be accessed through certain ETFs.

The iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors (NYSEArca: ICF) bets on some of the largest REITs in the U.S., and currently yields only 2.15 %, while the mortgage REIT tracking iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage Capped Index (NYSEArca: REM) yields a staggering 12.68 %. [ETFs for High Yield Seekers]

The real estate ETFs that focus on stocks such as the SPDR S&P Homebuilders (NYSEArca: XHB) is more of a play on home construction and companies that do well during a housing boom, rather than physical property. The yield is much lower, 0.53% , and the performance does not mirror the real estate market. Companies such as Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) and Bed, Bath and Beyond (NYSE: BBBY) are top holdings. [Housing Data Will Keep Homebuilder ETFs on Their Toes]