MIAMI—So how long exactly will the REIT run last? What are the challenges for REITs? And what lies ahead? caught up with Mark Stapp, executive director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, to get his thoughts on these and other questions in the second part of our exclusive interview. You can still read part one: “Are Healthcare REITs Set to Explode” if you missed it this morning. So how long will the REIT run last? What’s your view?

Stapp: I see no reason for change until public policy changes. In fact, I think there are interesting ways to use REITs that have not yet been fully explored. Real estate is much more than just a financial vessel for generating returns. It is also the engineered, fixed capital of a community.

Using REITs, it is possible for residents to focus on owning the buildings in their own communities. One can argue the wisdom of that, but it would allow local assets to be owned by members of a community who want to invest locally. REITs can follow trends and stay positioned to deal with those trends because of their staying power.

This is evident in the retail sector, where technology, the economy, and changing demographics have caused adjustments to how and where we buy—and what we want from the experience. REITs that own key properties are better able to make adjustments and keep property from becoming socially obsolete through further investment and repositioning. What challenges do you see for commercial real estate REITs?

Stapp: It’s all in the management. Having made the right purchase first is key. Then it’s about management decision-making. Real estate is fixed, difficult and expensive to change, and markets change and evolve, and property becomes physically and socially obsolete.

Good managers recognize this and plan accordingly. They create proper reserves, maintain the property, and follow the markets. If you are an all-equity owner, then you can make critical management decisions without the constraints of a lender, and that is a key advantage of REITs. Are you seeing a lot of new REITs forming now or are they declining?

Stapp: I have not followed their formation, but from what I do know, they are likely to keep being formed to take advantage of emerging opportunities. What’s the long-term of picture for REITs? What lies ahead?

Stapp: As long as policy changes don’t occur that negatively impact REITs, I see them as a long-term, significant player in the real estate market. Anything closing thoughts?

Stapp: It’s all about having purchased the right property, and the quality of management and its strategy. The average buyer should understand both. It’s all in the details. Categorical statements should not be used to make investment decisions, and people need to do their due diligence before simply buying any stock, including that of a REIT. The good thing about them is the investment in hard assets.