"When the financial community saw that the world wasn't comingto an end and the banking system wasn't going through Armageddon,the focus started to shift to where the value was, and it wasclearly in the REIT sector," says Schonbraun, who's also head ofFTI Consulting's global real estate practice. "They're generallywell-capitalized, low-leverage companies, and they're going to bethe most powerful over the next year, because private capital justhasn't returned to the marketplace in any meaningful fashion."

With about $20 billion in public equity raised last year, REITsrallied from a nosedive in their stock values following the WallStreet meltdown of September 2008. "In hindsight, it's clear thatthe REIT stocks took an early hit," Schonbraun says. "They weremarked to market way before the private market. The public marketsmay overreact at times, but they tend to be right. Having beenbeaten down as far as the REITs were, they became a goodopportunity on a relative basis."

Some of those REITs that successfully raised funds werelong-established players such as Boston Properties and SL GreenRealty Trust, while others were newly minted. There will be morewhere they came from, Schonbraun says.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.