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Economists Weigh In: How Will Markets Respond To REITs' Separation From The Financials Sector Next Month


In three days the market is going to be shaken up when REITs are split from the Financials sector in the S&P 500 and reclassified into their own sector on the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). Bisnow asked four industry experts how this move will impact real estate companies and the market going forward. Here's what they had to say. 

Jack Kern, Yardi director of research and publications

Yardi Director of Research and Publications Jack Kern

"The new real estate sector is going to add a lot of transparency to the industry. The companies that are doing well are probably applauding this while those who have lower results are going to have to figure out what to say when their analysts call.

In one sense, the split creates a new sort of benchmark that will help provide comparisons. It is most likely to benefit REITs more than operating companies but it will also make their share prices more volatile over time.

I also feel it will help companies remaining in the financial sector with more clarity on their performance and value. Hope this is the extension of a trend for more open reporting and tracking of sectors that are all but hidden by the current methods of reporting."

Stuart Eisenberg, BDO assurance partner


"This could spur an uptick in trading activity, which could prompt a significant increase in demand for REITs. Already, there has been a notable shift in the investment community toward viewing real estate as a core asset to include in portfolios. The reclassification will likely build upon this momentum and draw more attention to REITs as high-yield, reliable investments.

On the other hand, purely financial sector-focused funds could drop their investments in REITs to maintain returns that are consistent with the rest of the Financials sector.

The combination of greater exposure for REIT performance and a potential influx in investors could sustain, or perhaps even add to, the recent uptick in prominent, public activity on the part of activist investors and shareholders.

Activist shareholders launched 26 campaigns against REITs in 2015 alone—if demand for REITs increases, the sector will draw more attention from investors across the board, which could make activity on the part of activist shareholders more likely. REITs will need to factor this into their portfolio decisions, as well as any exploration of M&A or spinoffs."

Edward Mui, Morningstar analyst


“I think the split really comes from the recognition that real estate should be its own asset class and sector split from banks, especially now, because REITs have had a pretty reasonable track record and represent about 3.5% of the market right now.

With the sector breakout it’s going to get the real estate sector more exposure to the markets, which is probably an overall positive for real estate companies and should allow investors to better allocate their investments between different asset classes."

Michael Grupe, NAREIT EVP of research and investor outreach


"The creation of the new Real Estate Sector will increase the visibility of real estate as a distinct asset class and encourage investors, their advisers and managers to more actively consider real estate—especially REITs—when developing investment policies and portfolios.

The new Real Estate headline sector also will likely lead to the creation of new investment products, such as active and passive mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Advisers and managers will have more real estate fund options to recommend to their clients, likely facilitating positive capital flows into listed real estate equities."