The NAREIT Indexes, the benchmarks of the REIT and publicly traded real estate industry, are celebrating their 30th anniversary of tracking real estate stock performance this year.

The Index was created in 1972 during a flurry of REIT Initial Public Offering (IPO) activity and because investors were requesting a reliable benchmark to track real estate stock performance. According to NAREIT, other indexes soon followed to provide a more comprehensive benchmarking process.

"NAREIT’s Indexes have evolved — much like the industry itself," says NAREIT president and CEO Steven Wechsler. "What began as a single NAREIT Index is today a series of market measures that track real estate stocks domestically and internationally."

The NAREIT Indexes continue to evolve, says NAREIT senior director of industry analysis Chuck DiRocco. One of the biggest changes occurred in 1999 when the industry growth exploded. "Investors wanted real-time feed of data," he explains. Now, data is available at NAREIT’s Web site www.nareit.org. Bloomberg and others to provide up-to-the minute information.

The index evolved when institutional investors requested an index of large market-cap companies. "Smaller companies were not investable from an institutional standpoint," DiRocco says. In 2000, the Public Equity 100 index was created and then narrowed down to the NAREIT Real Estate 50, which includes the top 50 REIT and real estate operating companies.

Another step was to create a global index, so global investors could track the performance of real estate stock. In October 2001, the European Public Real Estate Association and NAREIT partnered to launch the Global Real Estate Index. "Investors and industry observers can be certain our family of indexes will continue to adapt to meet their needs," DiRocco says.

NAREIT Index Milestones:

1972: Initial NAREIT Index created to track real estate stock performance.

1994: NAREIT Index is broken out into property sectors.

1999: Debut of index to track the largest publicly traded REITs and real estate operating companies, starting in 2000.

2001: EPRA/NAREIT Global Real Estate Index is launched.