05/21/2012 | by
Nareit Staff

U.S. REIT Act Introduced in House
NAREIT Meets with FASB Members on Proposed Accounting Standards Updates
NAREIT Meets With Treasury on Capital Markets Issues
NAREIT Joins Coalition Denouncing Cuts in Census Funding
May/June Issue of REIT Magazine Now Available
REITWeek Less than a Month Away
REITs in the Community

May 21, 2012

Message from the President

Last week, the Update and Streamline REIT Act (the U.S. REIT Act) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Richard Neal (D-MA), respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures of the House Ways and Means Committee. They were joined by 14 bipartisan co-sponsors who also are members of the committee. We are grateful for their leadership on this issue.

The REIT in concept is a creation of Congress and, since it was established in 1960, Congress has periodically passed additional legislation to update, refine and improve it. Some of those legislative actions – such as the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which enabled REITs to be internally managed – have fundamentally changed the industry.

Most of the REIT legislation passed over the last five decades has not been as transformational as the 1986 act, but it still has played a vital role in shaping and improving the ways in which REITs operate their businesses. The body of REIT legislation built over the years has empowered REITs to buy and sell assets more efficiently, to engage effectively in real estate-related activities, and to compete appropriately in the world of real estate investment.

As the story in this issue of NewsBrief reports, the U.S. REIT Act is in keeping with past improvements to the REIT rules. We are looking forward to working with its sponsors to build additional bipartisan support for it and to seek its passage in the months ahead.

Steven A. Wechsler
President and CEO

U.S. REIT Act Introduced in House

Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Richard Neal (D-MA), the chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures of the House Ways and Means Committee, respectively, were joined by 14 other bipartisan co-sponsors from the Ways and Means Committee May 15 in introducing H.R. 5746, the Update and Streamline REIT Act (U.S. REIT Act).

Among other things, the U.S. REIT Act would assist the growing number of individuals who invest in REITs to diversify their savings and retirement portfolios by: providing REITs more flexibility in disposing of their assets; repealing the preferential dividend rule for "publicly offered" REITs; refining and modernizing several of the REIT income and asset tests; codifying and expanding IRS guidance regarding timber and the REIT tests; helping REITs that own mortgages attract worldwide investment; and modifying a technical provision relating to a REIT's "earnings and profits" to prevent duplicative taxation of REIT shareholders.

NAREIT anticipates that a Senate counterpart to H.R. 5746 will be introduced soon. NAREIT intends to work with the sponsors of the U.S. REIT Act to build additional bipartisan support for the legislation and to seek its passage. Additional information, including NAREIT's detailed description of the U.S. REIT Act, is available on REIT.com.

(Contact: Tony Edwards at tedwards@nareit.com)

NAREIT Meets with FASB Members on Proposed Accounting Standards Updates

On May 14, NAREIT met with certain members and staff of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to discuss its views on the Investment Companies and Investment Property Entities Proposed Accounting Standards Updates. Representing NAREIT at the meeting were Donald Wood, NAREIT chair and president and CEO of Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT); Steven A. Wechsler, NAREIT president and CEO; Tony Edwards, NAREIT executive vice president and general counsel; George Yungmann, NAREIT senior vice president for financial standards; and Christopher Drula, NAREIT senior director for financial standards.

During the meeting, NAREIT indicated its preference that the FASB withdraw its Investment Property Entities Proposed Accounting Standards Update. NAREIT said that instead the FASB should seek to converge with International Accounting Standard No. 40, Investment Property (IAS 40).

In the event that the FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) are not prepared to initiate a formal project to consider aligning the accounting and financial reporting for investment property under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) with IAS 40 or a similar asset-based standard with an option to report investment property at either fair value or historical cost, NAREIT indicated its preference that the FASB take no further action with respect to reporting investment property at fair value for U.S. REITs and operating real estate companies. Further, NAREIT expressed its view that the FASB should retain the explicit REIT scope exception contained in the current Investment Companies accounting guidance.

In addition, NAREIT shared its views with the board that lessors of investment property should continue to be scoped out of the joint FASB/IASB proposed Receivable and Residual Lessor Accounting Model and that the board should move forward toward issuing the final harmonized standard on Reporting Discontinued Operations.

(Contact: Christopher Drula at cdrula@nareit.com)

NAREIT Meets With Treasury on Capital Markets Issues

A group of NAREIT representatives met on May 17 with senior officials from the Treasury Department to discuss a host of REIT-related capital markets issues.

Chief among the topics covered was reforming the housing finance market. NAREIT President & CEO Steven A. Wechsler, Executive Vice President & General Counsel Tony Edwards and Senior Vice President of Policy & Regulatory Affairs Victoria Rostow attended the meeting and discussed the role that REITs could play in the home finance market.

(Contact: Victoria Rostow at vrostow@nareit.com)

NAREIT Joins Coalition Denouncing Cuts in Census Funding

NAREIT and a group of industry associations wrote to the members of the U.S. Senate last week to express concern over actions taken in the House of Representatives to cut funding for the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) program.

On May 16, the House approved a bill that would cut all funding for the ACS program, which constitutes an "essential data collection program," according to the co-signatories of the letter.

"As you know, Census data is the building block of market research that our country's business community uses daily to economic decisions," the letter said. "The ACS is the only source of objective, consistent and comprehensive information about the nation's social, economic and demographic characteristics down to the neighborhood level."

The coalition asked the Senate to oppose the cuts in negotiations with the House over the bill.

(Contact: Kirk Freeman at kfreeman@nareit.com)

May/June Issue of REIT Magazine Now Available

The May/June issue of REIT magazine is now available in print and on REIT.com. This issue's cover story looks at the successful merger of industrial REIT titans AMB Property Corporation and ProLogis and how the new Prologis (NYSE: PLD) is well positioned to capitalize on the improving global economy.

Also in this issue, the magazine explores "The Texas Way" by looking at how REITs have played a crucial role in the investment success achieved by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas pension plan. On a similar note, "REITs Keep Retirement on Target" looks at the key role REITs are playing in target date funds and overall retirement planning.

The May/June issue also features a roundtable of leading investment bankers and their outlooks for the sector, as well as one-on-one interviews with Alexandria Real Estate Equities (NYSE: ARE) CEO Joel Marcus, economist Justin Wolfers and Deloitte's Bob O'Brien.

(Contact: Matt Bechard at mbechard@nareit.com)

REITWeek Less than a Month Away

REITWeek 2012: NAREIT's Investor Forum marks the first time this event will be held at the Hilton New York, conveniently located right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. REITWeek brings the largest concentration of REIT management teams into one central location – more than 110 REITs to date – to present their latest company information to qualified institutional investors. Thousands will gather at this invite-only event to hear REIT management teams provide updates and projections that will help investors identify important company, sector and market trends, evaluate business models, and participate in company Q&A's.

If you are an institutional investor and would like to receive an invitation, you may use our online form to request an invitation. If you do not qualify as an institutional investor, but would still like to attend, you may become a sponsor. For more information on sponsoring this event, visit our REITWeek 2012 sponsorship information page.

Please visit the REITWeek website for complete information on REITWeek 2012: NAREIT's Investor Forum.

(Contact: Afia Nyarko at anyarko@nareit.com)

REITs in the Community

May 14 (left to right): Steven A. Wechsler, NAREIT president and CEO; Temple Sloan, independent chairman of Highwoods Property Trust (NYSE: HIW); Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC); and Ed Fritsch, Highwoods president and CEO. Burr, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, met with the board of directors of Highwoods in Raleigh, N.C. He was briefed on the current state of the REIT industry and the current and future activities of Highwoods in North Carolina and across the country. Several REIT-related legislative issues currently before the 112th Congress were discussed, and Burr was able to provide a legislative update to the board members.

(Contact: Kate Smith at ksmith@nareit.com@nareit.com)

NewsBrief Will Not Publish Next Week

NewsBrief will not publish Monday, May 28, in observance of Memorial Day.

(Contact: Matt Bechard at mbechard@nareit.com)