ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Even if interest rates rise, the improved economic outlook and strength in the commercial sectors could reinforce real estate investment trusts and related exchange traded funds.

Over the past year, Vanguard REIT ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ) rose 31.4%, iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate Index Fund (NYSEArca: IYR) gained 27.4% and SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (NYSEArca: RWR) increased 32.6%.

Fund managers argue that while the real-estate funds may experience short-term swings due to interest rate changes, the funds’ underlying outlook remains positive, pointing to a growing U.S. economy, improving employment rate and greater foreign investment demand for U.S. REITs, reports Tom Lauricella for the Wall Street Journal.

“Real-estate fundamentals are pretty solid,” David Wharmby, global head of real-estate securities at Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, said in the WSJ article.

Nevertheless, the recent outperformance of the REITs space has been fueled by the unexpected rally in U.S. debt, which has made real estate assets a more attractive yield-generating alternative. For instance, VNQ has a 3.37% 12-month yield, IYR has a 3.47% 12-month yield and RWR has a 2.87% 12-month yield. REITs are required to pay out 90% of their taxable income to shareholders to capitalize on tax benefits.

Samuel Wald, manager of Fidelity Advisor Real Estate, argues that short-term traders will act on interest rate moves, but the long-term outlook is more stable. Specifically, Wharmby points out that it is currently a landlord’s market as long as the economy continues to grow. John Wenker, a co-manager of the Nuveen Real Estate Securities Strategy, also believes that the general profit outlook for real-estate companies is very positive, compared to the broader equity market.

“The underlying real estate is a much more slow-moving asset than what goes on in Wall Street,” Wald said. “We like to say that REITs act like stocks in the short run, but act like real estate in the long run.”

While REIT investors may expect some short-term volatility, following a knee-jerk reaction to rising rates, the REITs space could continue to strengthen, along with an expanding economy. [Rate-Sensitive ETFs Get Jammed Up]

Vanguard REIT ETF

For more information on real estate investment trusts, visit our REITs category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.