The Fuel Behind Residential REIT ETFs

While U.S. markets retreated in the wake of the recent China-induced selling, residential real estate investment trusts and sector-related exchange traded fund have held up surprisingly well.

The iShares Residential Real Estate Capped ETF (NYSEArca: REZ) dipped 0.9% year-to-date while the S&P 500 Index declined 5.8%.

The rising number of U.S. renters and shift away from home ownership has helped support the residential REITs space. REZ includes a hefty 47.4% tilt toward residential REITs, along with 31.5% health care REITs and 20.8% specialized REITs, which includes storage units.

REZ includes some prominent residential REITs, including AvalonBay Communities (NYSE: AVB) at 8.2% of the fund’s portfolio and Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) at 9.5%. The ETF’s largest component is Public Storage REITs (NYSE: PSA), a specialty REIT, at 12.0%.

The residential REITs market has been enjoying rising demand, with average rents nationwide up 4.6% in 2015, the largest gain since before the recession, reports Laura Kusisto for the Wall Street Journal.

Rents have increased by over 20% since the start of 2010, and most economist expect 2016 to be another strong year.

The influx in rental demand has also pushed developers to build almost 1 million apartments in the U.S. over the next three years, compared to the nearly 900,000 constructed in the previous three years.