Michael Bilerman, managing director and head of the real estate and lodging research team at Citi, participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITworld: 2020 Annual Conference.
Bilerman is the recipient of Nareit’s 2020 Industry Achievement Award.
Reflecting on his time covering the REIT industry, Bilerman observed that over the past quarter century “the only constant has been change.” He cited events such as the inclusion of REITs in the S&P 500, and REITs becoming their own Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) sector, as well as the industry’s improved performance on governance and diversity matters.
Bilerman also noted that one of the most important changes has been the alteration in the property composition of the REIT index over time, with traditional real estate sectors now accounting for just 35% of the index.
“The REIT index today is as diversified as it’s ever been,” Bilerman said.
Turning to the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, Bilerman said there have been a handful of silver linings. “REITs are trying to make the best of a difficult situation. They are being extraordinarily transparent and communicative” about the impact of the pandemic on their business, he said.
Bilerman also highlighted the role that REITs have played during the crisis in terms of giving back to their employees and communities.
Looking to 2021, Bilerman said “REITs will ultimately take their cue from how the economy performs from here.”