The market value of Vanguard's US equity REIT portfolio grew 13.45% during Q1.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—The top institutional investor in US equity REITs this past quarter? The aptly named Vanguard Group Inc., according to data from SNL Financial, headquartered here.

Vanguard’s US equity REIT portfolio grew 13.45% in market value during Q1, and it added positions in three REITs during the quarter for a total of 162. The market value of Vanguard’s REIT investments, $78.1 billion, is more than 10 times that of any of the 10 lowest-ranked investors in SNL’s top 25, derived from Form 13-F filings.

Others in the top 25 as ranked by market value include: BlackRock Fund Advisors, Cohen & Steers Capital Management, SSga Funds Management, Fidelity Management & Research, Invesco Advisors, T. Rowe Price Associates, CBRE Clarion Securities, Daiwa Asset Management Co., Shinko Asset Management, Northern Trust Global Investments, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, APG Asset Management US, Brookfield Asset Management, RREEF America, LaSalle Investment Management Securities, JP Morgan Asset Management, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Principal Global Investors, Capital World Investors, Norges Bank Investment Management, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, PGGM Vermogensbeheer BV, Capital Research Global Investors and TIAA-CREF Asset Management.

Although some institutional investors moved up or down in the rankings during Q1, BlackRock and Cohen & Steers maintained their second- and third-place rankings, respectively, compared to year-end 2013. At the end of the first quarter, the market values of the firms’ respective US equity REIT investments were $43.38 billion and $27.74 billion, respectively.

The firm with the greatest quarter-over-quarter market value increase in equity REIT positions among the top 25 institutional investors was RREEF at 33.80%, rising to $7.65 billion from $5.72 billion. An arm of Deutsche Asset Management, the firm rose to No. 15 from No. 16, though the number of its investment positions decreased by eight to 69 holdings at March 31 from 77 holdings at Dec. 31.

Conversely, Northern Trust reported the smallest increase in market value of equity REIT holdings, just 3.41%. Its REIT holdings carried a market value of $9.98 billion at March 31, compared to $9.65 billion at Dec. 31. None of the top 25 saw a negative quarter-over-quarter change in market value of its US equity REIT stock holdings.

The largest quarter-over-quarter increase in REIT positions was by APG at nine. At the end of last year, it had positions in 74 REITs; by the end of Q1, it was 83.

At the other end of the spectrum, Invesco recorded the largest decrease in REIT investment positions quarter over quarter. Its 111 REIT positions at March 31 compared to 127 as of Dec. 31, for a decrease of 16 positions.

The average increase in market value for the REIT portfolios held by these investors was 11.0%, while the top 25 increased their holdings by a median of one position during Q1. SNL’s US REIT Equity index posted an 8.53% total return for the quarter, compared to a 1.81% return by the S&P 500 during the same time period.