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CHICAGO-The mood, for a real estate conference, was upbeat at the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts’ REITWeek 2010 conference at the Hilton Chicago, an event that started this morning and will last until Friday. While the general real estate market is still down, trusts have raised enough capital to be one of the few entities around with enough strength to take advantage. With returns generally running at almost 14% since the REIT industry started in 1992, “we’ve really proven that the REIT way is the right way,” said Deb Cafaro, chair of both NAREIT and Ventas Inc.

Even Sam Zell, the popular chairman of many groups including the Equity Residential Trust, was spouting positive about the industry’s success at weathering the recession storm. “When we started, the industry was a $6 billion industry. Now it’s at $500 billion. That can be attributed to its consistency. Liquidity equals value,” he said during his luncheon presentation.

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