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REITWorld 2010: Blair Wants to Spread the Word

11/15/2010 | By Matthew Bechard

"Getting the word out" about the REIT investment proposition is NAREIT 2011 Chair Bryce Blair's top priority.

In an interview with REIT.com at REITWorld 2010: NAREIT's Annual Convention for All Things REIT, Blair, chairman and CEO of AvalonBay Communities Inc. (NYSE: AVB) cited REITs' strong performance, liquidity and transparency among the factors that should appeal to investors.

"It's a pretty compelling story," he said.

Looking ahead, Blair said REITs' solid balance sheets and low leverage should help attract investment capital. Additionally, he noted that REITs provide consistent dividends and are poised to take advantage of growth opportunities.

Regarding his company, Blair said a number of factors are working in favor of the apartment sector. "The apartment sector certainly is benefiting from very strong fundamentals," he noted.

Among the tailwinds behind AvalonBay, Blair pointed out that the jobs that are being created amid the recession are skewing disproportionately to younger demographics. This cohort is more likely to rent housing than own a home.

Additionally, he said the weak housing market was pushing more people to rent. Lastly, the apartment market isn't overbuilt at the moment, according to AvalonBay's CEO, because the financial crisis discouraged lending for new construction in recent years.

Blair replaces Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of healthcare REIT Ventas Inc. (NYSE: VTR), as NAREIT chair. Cafaro held the position for the 2010 term.

For more videos, information and constant updates from REITWorld 2010: NAREIT's Annual Convention for All Things REIT, visit REIT.com.