How big is the REIT market?
REITs own more than 520,000 properties in the United States and about $3 trillion in real estate assets.
$2 trillion of this is owned by publicly traded equity REITs, while the rest is owned by non-listed or private companies.
REIT market capitalization
The total market capitalization of all publicly traded REITs was $1.4 trillion as of January 2020. This includes mortgage REITs, as well.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this had fallen to $1.1 trillion as of May 2020.
Of the $1.1 trillion in REIT market capitalization, $1.048 trillion, or more than 95%, is made up of equity REITs, meaning REITs that own commercial properties.
REITs on the stock market
30 REITs are members of the S&P 500 benchmark index, and REITs account for just under 3% of the S&P 500 index by market cap.
In the small-cap focused Russell 2000 index, REITs make up approximately 8% of the index's weight.
On an average day in May 2020, there was approximately $9 billion in trading volume per day among publicly traded REITs.
Sector REIT statistics
- REITs own more than 16.7 million acres of timberland in the U.S.
- REITs own almost 219,000 outdoor advertising properties (mainly billboards).
- 148,299 single-family rental properties are REIT-owned.
- Over 95,000 communications towers in the U.S. are owned by REITs.
- REITs own 24,460 U.S. retail properties.
Average REIT returns
REITs have an impressive track record of strong performance, even when compared with the overall stock market.
The FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs Index has beaten the S&P 500 in 15 of the last 25 full years. Over those 25 years, the annualized total return of that equity REIT index has been 10.9% -- that's a total return of about 1,225% during that time.
For subsector breakdowns, more returns over time, and some standout individual REITs, be sure to check out our data on the historical performance of REITs against the stock market.
Equity REITs versus S&P 500 returns