Sunday, May 08, 2011

Lame Critique of Non-Traded REITS
Here is an article from, written by columnist John Wasik on why an investment in non-traded REITs is a bad idea  Its a hack piece of opinion.  The author writes in generalities and innuendo.  Here is an example:
Yet one version of REITs--those that are unlisted--have been attracting unfavorable attention of late. Because they are ripe with problems and there are plenty of alternatives available, they are best avoided.

Regulators have been probing unlisted REITs, which have raised almost $60 billion from investors over the past decade. Watchdogs are concerned that retirees are being sold these investments with the pitch that they are low-cost and low-risk. They are neither.
The article states that non-traded REITs are ripe with problems.  Wasik fails to name the problems and gives no examples of specific malfeasance.  And regulators are probing unlisted REITs?  I have heard that regulators, mainly FINRA, are investigating non-traded REIT marketing and sales practices not the actual non-traded REITs and their operations.

In the nonsensical sentence below, Wasik confuses mutual funds with REITs:
Unlike REIT mutual funds that own stakes in a number of publicly traded companies that own properties, non-listed REITs sell shares directly through brokers.
What???  If you check almost any brokerage firm, mutual fund sales will far exceed the sale of non-traded REITs.  This may be the dumbest point in a stupid article. 

Here is more inanity when the author talks about alternatives to non-traded REITs:
Though you can invest in individual names, for most people, diversification makes even more sense when investing in REITs. You don't want to be too exposed to one sector such as malls, residential, or self-storage, or specific geographic regions. For example, you don't want to be stuck in a REIT that's heavily concentrated in South Florida, where the real estate market is hurting.
Yes, diversification makes sense.  I am not aware, however, of any non-traded REIT exposed to South Florida, or any other single geographic market.   Yes, even noxious non-traded REITs diversify across regions.  Wasik's one alternative to non-traded REITs is a Vanguard index mutual fund.  Its yield is less than 3%, so is it really a competitor?  I am all for indexing, diversification, alternatives and liquidity, but if you are doing a REIT index fund, it's not a stand-alone an income play.  You are going to have to research individual listed REITs that pay strong, consistent dividends to find a true alternative to non-traded REITS.

I know the flaws of non-traded REITs, unfortunately this article added nothing to the conversation.  Quotes from attorneys discussing non-traded REITs adds no credibility.  These attorneys are looking to sue brokerage firms on investor suitability grounds, not because the investment was a REIT.  If you are going to slam non-traded REITs, you have to name names and provide specific examples of why the non-traded REITs are so bad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a weak article. The author had only to use Wells Timberland REIT as an example to prove his point. This REIT is highly concentrated geographically, is currently part of an ongoing FINRA investigation, has high entry commissions, and has not made it's investors a dime since it started. Characteristically, redemptions are strictly curtailed. The recent "stock dividend" seems somewhat cheap as well. They've issued enough stock to paper half of Atlanta: the least they could do is give more of it back to the stockholders in this pine-paneled roach hotel. At least Leo Wells finally felt enough shame to cut his dividends on his preferred stock.