No longer content with the brick-and-mortar realm of office buildings, Wells Real Estate Funds has created an unlisted timber REIT. Norcross, Ga.-based Wells is one of the largest sponsors of unlisted office REITs. With the Wells Timberland REIT, however, the company now claims to sponsor the first unlisted REIT that solely invests in timberland.
“This new expansion of our product family fits with our focus on offering the individual investor the opportunity to invest in quality real estate,” says Leo Wells, founder and president of Wells Real Estate Funds. “Professionally managed timberland is a potentially attractive type of commercial real estate. But it has historically been almost entirely for institutional investors.”
The Wells Timberland REIT plans to generate revenue and income through the sale of timber harvesting rights, plus leasing land-use rights. It may also sell land for higher and better use. Veteran forester and executive Jess Jarratt will be the president of the timber REIT. The REIT plans to acquire and invest in U.S. timberland properties located in the Appalachian, Great Lakes, Northeast, Northwest and Southeast regions.
According to NAREIT, there are four listed timber REITs in the U.S. Many institutional investors have allocated funds into the timber sector. Some of them own large interests in timber REITs. Last year, for example, Harvard’s $28 billion endowment allocated 10% of its portfolio to the timber sector.