National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT)

It is a worldwide representative voice for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and real estate firms

The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (Nareit) is a worldwide representative voice for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and real estate firms with ties to U.S. real estate. 

The organization came into the limelight in 1960 due to changes in U.S. legislation that allowed real estate investing for smaller investors. The national association of REITs is based in Washington, D.C.

The organization has many member firms worldwide that may own, operate, develop, and finance real estate. Further, some firms service the business through advisory services, research, etc.

Nareit's mission is to "actively advocate for REIT-based real estate investment with policymakers and the global investment community." Moreover, the association's vision is to "ensure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from real estate investment."

The organization has created a substantial breadth of resources to educate people on investment opportunities in real estate through Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). It has become a powerful voice, advocating for industry changes for member firms' benefit.

Well-developed real estate is essential to an economy's future, and REITs play a significant role in the progression of this industry by developing, operating, and financing real estate. Moreover, they provide the ability for everyday people to own real estate as quickly as purchasing a stock.

Further, REITs have become essential in many funds, such as 401(k) plans, pension funds, and other investment funds that people usually use. Therefore, Nareit can support these firms and hopes to create a positive impact in this space.

The Nareit foundation

The foundation is an integral part of the organization and aims to support educational and charitable initiatives for REITs and the real estate industry.

The foundation has run many initiatives and programs to further its objective. For example, In 2018, the foundation launched the Nareit Hawaii Community Giving Initiative to support affordable housing and family-focused programs. By 2021, the foundation's initiative had given nearly $1.9M statewide.

In 2022, the foundation has expanded upon the organization's mission via the Dividends Through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DDEI) giving campaign that raises funds from member firms to promote and support diversity and inclusion.

Special considerations

Trying to influence policies in this industry requires Nareit to have global relationships with foreign entities as politics come into play. Thus, there are many firms and organizations that Nareit has partnered with to expand its influence. For example:

The national association of REITs also uses such partnerships to leverage its data to promote real estate worldwide through understanding trends and changing market conditions. 

Most importantly, the association has contributed to the FTSE EPRA/Nareit Global Real Estate Index Series, which highlights global trends in real estate equities.

the function of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT)

Nareit is an evolving organization, positioning itself to bring real change to the real estate industry and provide value to REITs and members of the organization. Moreover, the group has led initiatives to educate individuals.

Several initiatives have been taken up as the firm has grown. These functions have expanded and impacted the real estate industry and its firms. Most importantly, the organization has been able to create changes on a global level for the industry and the adoption of REITs.

Such changes have brought REITs worldwide and allowed these firms to work smoothly in cross-border operations. All this is in an industry that frequently sees the introduction of supportive legislation, making business much more straightforward.

Today, the organization has a host of purposes that are aiding in furthering the industry and providing transparency. The functions highlighted below have been found directly on the institution's website.


There are two kinds of memberships at the association:

  1. Corporate Members

  2. Individual Members

Corporate members benefit most from the association's influence on upcoming policy changes. In contrast, individual membership is for those that wish to leverage connections and a few resources within Nareit through events and publications.

Becoming a member means that one will have access to several benefits and resources, such as:

  • Increased visibility and access to investors

  • Research analysis and data produced by NAREIT

  • Member-only events and savings

  • Opportunities to participate in meetings with legislators in congressional districts to share the impact your business makes on the community (Corporate members only)

  • Communication on potential policy changes that affect member firms and the industry

  • And several more benefits.

The corporate membership is exclusively available to REITs based in the U.S. or a country that has REIT legislation; further, this type of membership is also available to all listed real estate companies such as real estate operating companies (REOCs)


The national association of REITs has enough influence today to shape policies and legislation that impact the functioning of REITs and the real estate industry. 

The organization works with policymakers to impact decisions that shape the industry. The organization has become a representative for firms.

Nareit is working towards a better industry environment for its member firms. For example, the organization is tackling many complex topics. Some of the issues they've positively impacted include:

  • COVID-19 and its devastating impacts on demand for some areas of real estates, such as office space

  • Federal Tax Legislation

  • Cross-border problems that make business difficult for globally-involved REITs who own assets in multiple countries

  • State tax issues that create complications and hurdles for firms

  • Capital market laws and other regulatory issues 

  • Financial standards and reporting standards set for REITs

  • Internal Revenue Service issues

  • Encouraging REITs to make positive changes for their communities further

The policy and politics team helps oversee REITPAC, the only political action committee in the U.S. dedicated solely to real estate and REIT issues.

Overall, advocacy from the organization has created notable positive change for firms in the real estate industry. The association continues to host events, creating a space for firms to share their opinions and build relationships.

Research & Education

The national association of REITs conducts industry-leading research for its members, analyzing the changing industry and how to approach real estate investment as market conditions evolve. 

The associations' research highlights REITs' benefits, such as diversification, long-term market performance, and accessibility. The organization presents this data with understandable tools and resources that are accessible to everyone, such as : 

Due to these reasons, the association plays a paramount role in the industry; according to the national REITs, 96% of U.S. REITs are members of the organization as they can gain all this value from the firm.

Information sharing and analysis create a transparent picture of current market conditions, driving informed decision-making.

The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (Nareit) Historical Background

Nareit was formed on Sep. 15, 1960, just a day after President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that created a new approach to income-producing real estate investment. This legislation combined the best attributes of real estate and stock-based investment.

The legislation removed the barrier to real estate investing, such as commercial/industrial real estate, which was only available to wealthy individuals and those with connections. 

Here are some of the significant events that took place from 1960 onwards, several of which the national association of REITs had a substantial influence on:

1960-1961The first REITs were created, such as Bradley Real Estate Investors, Continental Mortgage Investors, First Mortgage Investors, First Union Real Estate (now Winthrop Realty Trust, NYSE: FUR), Pennsylvania REIT (NYSE: PEI), and Washington REIT (NYSE: WRE).
June 1965Continental Mortgage Investors is the first REIT to be listed on the NYSE.
Aug. 1969The first research report by Wall Street on REITs was released, written by Michael Emmerman, an analyst at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder Advisers, LLC.
1969The first European REIT legislation is passed.
June 1970The first healthcare REIT, called the Healthcare Fund, was introduced by Bruce Thompson and Frederic Wolfe. The company changed its name to Health Care REIT, Inc. in 1985 and later changed again to Welltower Inc. (NYSE: HCN) in 2015.
January 1972Nareit introduces the REIT index which acts as a benchmark indicator for REIT market performance. Further, equity, mortgage, and hybrid REITs are categorized.
November 1976The Tax Reform Act is signed by President Ford, allowing REITs to be established as corporations in addition to business trusts.
January 1985The growing popularity of REITs leads to a dedicated real estate fund called the National Real Estate Stock Fund, a mutual fund devoted to REITs and other real estate securities.
October 1986President Reagan signs the Tax Reform Act of 1986, changing tax laws to combat tax sheltering and also introducing several REIT simplification changes, such as allowing REITs to be internally managed and supervised.
November 1991After a downturn in REITs performance, Kimco Realty Corporation's (NYSE: KIM) IPO sets the stage for the modern REIT era.
October 1991The national association of REITs adopts the definition of Funds From Operations (FFO). Later, in January 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission explicitly allowed companies to use FFO per share in SEC filings.
December 1991New Plan becomes the first public REIT to reach a market capitalization of $1 billion.
August 1993As part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, President Clinton signed into law a change to the "Five or Fewer" rule, making it easier for pension plans to invest in REITs
1974Significant changes in REIT tax laws occur as Congress enacts foreclosure property rules.
June 1996Nareit's three-year effort turns successful as the IRS allows REITs to expand services offered to tenants to generate more income.
August 1997President Clinton signs the RED Simplification Act of 1997. This allowed more flexibility for REITs operations. Moreover, the creation of timber REITs is also permitted
October 1997Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into REITs increases as the U.S. treasury updates the U.S. model tax treaty position to ensure a majority of non-U.S. shareholders pay 15% in taxes on REIT dividends.
October 1999The European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) is formed. NAREIT and EPRA start working closely together for members' best interests.
January 1999NAREIT introduces a real-time pricing feature through the NAREIT Real-Time REIT Index.
December 1999The REIT modernization act was introduced under President Clinton, allowing REITs to create taxable subsidiaries that offer services to tenants.
June 2000REIT Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are introduced.
2001REITs are added to the S&P Indices.
October 2001In a joint venture, NAREIT, EPRA and Euronext launch the EPRA/NAREIT Global Real Estate Index.
October 2004President Bush signs the REIT Improvement Act into law.
November 2006The first meeting of the Real Estate Equity Securitization Alliance (REESA) was held during NAREIT's Annual Convention. REESA includes APREA, EPRA, NAREIT, the Association for Real Estate Securitization (Japan), and the Real Property Association of Canada.
2008NAREIT led an international effort with REESA partners that successfully modified the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's model tax treaty to achieve uniform tax treatment for cross-border REIT investments around the world.
March 2011NAREIT held its first-annual Leader in the Light Working Forum.
October 2012NAREITs request to mitigate interest rate exposure for REITs is successful after CFTC response.
April 2012NAREIT released research by Wilshire Associates helping target-date fund (TDF) managers develop effective 401(k) and other retirement portfolios.
2015Obama signs the Path Act into law.
2016REITs pass a $1 trillion equity market capitalization.
2017NAREIT rebrands, aiming to effectively tell the history of REITs and inform people about the benefits provided by these firms.
2019NAREIT introduces diversity and inclusion recognition awards to firms with a strong commitment to supporting the cause in the workplace and in communities.
2020The IRS allows REITs to use up to 90% stock to satisfy distribution requirements after Nareit's successful advocacy. Furthermore, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopts some of NAREIT's suggestions regarding changing disclosure requirements and other descriptions.


Linked is an excellent chart from NAREIT that summarizes the development of the real estate industry as a timeline. 

The chart highlights changes in real estate that have been introduced in the form of REITs since 1960. Today's investors have many opportunities to diversify their portfolios into real estate, even specialty real estate.



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Research and authored by Imran Husain | Linkedin

Reviewed and edited by James Fazeli-Sinaki | LinkedIn

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