REITs@50: Industry Reflections, Don Wood of Federal Realty Investment Trust

As an active member of NAREIT's current executive committee, Don Wood, president and CEO of Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT), knows first-hand the role NAREIT plays in advancing the industry's objectives.

"Business is all about communications. Business is all about relationships. NAREIT has done an excellent job of enhancing those and pulling the industry together," Wood says. "Whether it is with executives within the industry, whether it is with our elected leaders or whether it is with our investor base, without NAREIT it would have been much more difficult to pull all of us together."

Wood says that one of the most underrated events in the industry's history occurred around the time of the dotcom crash, which coincided with a change in the dividend rules.

"The change in those rules and the dotcom crash allowed investors to look at REITs and understand what they were about," Wood says. "That brought in a number of new investors with new interests into our sector that hadn't been there before."

Wood says the important role listed REITs have played in the broader market should not be underestimated. Without the legitimacy and respectability of well-run REITs, the commercial real estate industry would still look like a fragmented, solo-practitioner industry, Wood says.

As for the future, Wood says he expects REITs to continue to grow and evolve.

"I hope we continue on the pace we have been on," Wood says. "While there are cyclical ups and downs, the reality is that our industry still needs to mature, our industry still needs to get larger, our industry still needs to become a much bigger part of the investment world."