REITs Can Still Make Up Ground With Investors

REITs still have room to grow with investment plan providers, according to Don Wood, president and CEO of Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT).

In a video interview with REIT.com at NAREIT's Washington Leadership Forum, Wood, who currently serves as chair of NAREIT, discussed a broad range of pressing industry issues. Reaching out to the investment community was one major topic.

"I absolutely think that we have not hit our stride yet, to tell you the truth, in segments of both the defined-benefit and the defined-contribution world in terms of their investment strategy," Wood said. "I also think that while we've made immense strides over the years on the retail shareholder base, we haven't really done as well as we can in making our case."

Wood said REITs' collective track record in the last 20 years, including the Great Recession, illustrates the attractiveness of investing in the industry.

"REITs have been amazingly strong," he said. "Now it's about being able to perform and showing the world in a broader way."

Discussing the most prominent policy issues, Wood cautioned against accepting the likelihood that Congress would remain dormant throughout the year in light of the election.

"I really do think that with a recovering economy and with the public's absolute abhorrence for Congress to get anything done, there may be a surprise or two coming this year," Wood said. "Conventional wisdom is that nothing is going to happen until after the election. I'm not so sure about that yet. Let's play this out into the spring and the summer."

Among the most important policy matters facing REITs include sales tax collection and regulations governing foreign investment, Wood said.

The biggest threats to REITs in the current market remain major macroeconomic issues, according to Wood. "Things like higher gas prices, lower consumer sales and stuff like that that gets reported does have a disproportionate impact on a fragile recovery, as opposed to a time when things are really solid," he said.