Past and current officers of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts pressed the button for the required 15 seconds to sound the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, ringing in the 45th anniversary of the REIT industry on Sept 20.
Created as a section of the Cigar Excise Tax Extension of 1960, the first REITs were private and purchased exclusively by individuals, according to NAREIT. Continental Mortgage Investors was the first REIT listed on the New York Stock Exchange, in June 1965.
Institutional investment did not become meaningful until the 1990s, when liquidity improved and federal legislation passed in 1993 made it easier for pension plans to invest in REITs, said Michael Grupe, NAREIT's senior vice president for research. Catching on quickly with institutions, it was the institutional investors that drove the REIT bull market of 1996 and 1997.