Many people gained an interest in real estate investing by playing the board game Monopoly, which was introduced in the early 1900s. Buying properties, building houses and hotels and, ultimately, collecting rent from opposing players, offers an awareness, albeit a simplistic one, of the importance of the types of property and location.

It was not until 1960, however, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that paved the way for the modern REIT investment structure, giving individual investors the opportunity to participate in the commercial real estate market. The growth of the U.S. REIT industry has been consistent over time, with a notable increase in the number of REITs over the last several years. According to the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, a worldwide representative group of REITs and publicly traded real estate, 233 such investments were operating in the U.S. at the end of 2015. Moreover, the market capitalization of these investments has grown dramatically since 1971, when the market capitalization of REITs was approximately $1.5 billion. The market capitalization of all REITs at the end of 2015 was nearly $939 billion.

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