REITs@50: Industry Reflections, Hap Stein of Regency Centers

Publicly traded REITs in the United States are "exceptionally well-positioned for the future," according to Regency Centers Corp. (NYSE: REG) Chairman and CEO Martin "Hap" Stein, Jr.

Stein, who served as chair of NAREIT in 2008, cites a number of factors working in REITs' favor going forward.

"You have great management teams. You have extremely strong balance sheets," he says. "And you've got a track record of many, many years of REITs outperforming pretty much every other alternative investment, whether it's direct ownership of real estate or other equity investments or debt investments."

Looking back on the industry's history as REITs celebrate their 50th anniversary, Stein picks out the dawning of the Modern REIT Era in the early half of the 1990s as the industry's most important event. During that period, companies such as retail REIT Kimco Realty Corporation (NYSE: KIM) held initial public offerings in response to the crash of the real estate market.

"It gave an opportunity for investors to invest alongside the best operators in the real estate business," Stein says.