REITs@50: Industry Reflections, Ken Rosen, Rosen Real Estate Securities

Ken Rosen, chairman of Rosen Real Estate Securities and Rosen Consulting Group, has been involved with real estate research and investment for more than 30 years. Over that time, particular with the onset of the Modern REIT Era, he says that listed REITs have had a dramatic impact on the commercial real estate industry.

"Listed REITs have basically changed everything regarding investors' view of real estate," Rosen says. "Normally real estate was an illiquid investment and you didn't have the opportunity to have any transparency."

Rosen says REITs have added liquidity, transparency and really great management teams. "You don't buy a building anymore, you buy a portfolio of buildings, and a management team and a capital structure," he says. "REITs have broadened the investment base dramatically to individuals. For institutions, REITs give them another option."

Going forward, Rosen says the fact that REITs were able to recapitalize their balance sheets following the Great Recession and many private companies are still struggling for capital is a great indicator that listed REITs are poised for long-term success.

"The fact that they went through the difficult period of 2008 and 2009 couldn't have been a more vigorous test," Rosen says. "We only had one bankruptcy (General Growth Properties) and of course that is now working itself out. It shows that you can have public real estate companies survive and thrive in even the worst of worlds."

In addition, Rosen says that there is an opportunity for the best-in-class management teams of REITs to double in size again. "I wouldn't be surprised to see another 50 companies in the United States and a large number of new companies worldwide adopt the REIT model the U.S. has pioneered," Rosen says.

Rosen adds that he is using REIT data as a proxy in the apartment sector because of its transparency, availability and accuracy.

"Right now equity REITs make up a small chunk of the total real estate equity, and my guess is that will double or even triple in the next 10 years," Rosen says.