REITs@50: Industry Reflections. Morris Kramer of Roberts & Holland

One of Morris Kramer's first assignments out of law school was to study and analyze the new investment concept called real estate investment trusts. That was in 1960. Fifty years later Kramer is still active in the industry and shared his thoughts with

Kramer is currently a partner with Roberts & Holland LLP in New York City. He has played a key role in most of NAREIT's tax initiatives over the years and been involved in a number of association committees. Kramer even served on NAREIT's board of governors for six years before participation was limited to REIT executives. He received NAREIT's 1998 Industry Achievement Award for his efforts.

Kramer says NAREIT's key role for the REIT industry has been its work with policymakers and regulatory agencies.

"NAREIT has played an important role with its work in modernizing the REIT provisions and obtaining regulations and guidance that has been helpful to the industry," Kramer says.

For the operators and owners of real estate, some of the earliest challenges centered on overcoming the restrictions of the original REIT legislation.

"The initial REIT rules imposed very substantial restrictions on management, services and the like, and the owners and operators were not familiar with operating their business subject to those restrictions," Kramer says.

Over the past 50 years, REITs have significantly changed the commercial real estate industry by bringing a sizable portion of those assets into public hands.

"This has produced companies that are the equivalent of some of the largest industrial corporations out there," he says.

As for key moments in REIT history, Kramer mentions Taubman Centers' IPO and the establishment of the UPREIT structure as a key event. He adds that crossing the $1 billion market cap level also attracted institutional investors to a much greater extent.