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DALLAS-Just about everybody has been advised by an elder to “put your money into real estate.” That’s just what investors are doing these days, with REITs being the goodwill ambassadors in a still volatile 2001 stock market.

To date this year, the net inflow tallies $353.6 million for real estate mutual funds, predominately REITs, in comparison to last year’s practically nil, and maybe even negative, total capital infusion, Craig Prophet, vice president of Lend Lease Rosen Real Estate Securities in Berkeley, CA, tells GlobeSt.com. And Texas-based REITs with Texas holdings are faring particularly well, surpassing counterparts in other regions. It’s Texas’ countercyclical persona to the rest of the nation that has it ahead of the pack, due in part to its vibrant energy base, explains Prophet.

Of all the Texas metropolises, only Austin is feeling the pinch of the nation’s economic downturn. It ranks right up there with San Francisco, Manhattan and Boston. It’s expected, says Prophet, since those cities that benefit more in the good times will “suffer proportionately on the way down.”

In the past two decades, equity REITs have undergone an image change in an evolution that took root in the early 1990s. “It’s not a new phenomena,” says Prophet. “It’s only new in the sense that REITs never had this level of high-quality real estate and high-quality management.”

As for any impact from the REIT Modernization Act, Prophet says it’s just “too early to tell.” Most in the financial arena are adopting a “wait and see” attitude as to how it will shake out in the long run.

Charles Bissell, managing director of Integra Realty Resources’ Dallas office, sees REITs as “a safe harbor…as money came out of tech stocks and volatile stocks.” He concurs with Prophet that it’s just too early in the game to determine what impact the REIT Modernization Act will have on the industry.

For now, REITs are the favorite sons for investors even though it’s not always been that way. However, the once good buys in terms of stock have changed from prior years. He tells GlobeSt.com that REITs’ net asset values by and large are now less than their stock prices. Of course, he adds, they still aren’t near their peak or historical highs. “There’s still room to go up. But, as long as tech stocks and telecommunications stocks continue to take a bath, we’ll see continued growth in REITs,” he says with confidence.

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