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10 Top-Ranked High-Yield REITs

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Federal Reserve officials reiterated yesterday that they will keep interest rates near a record low of about zero for an "extended period" because inflation is under control and unemployment is still near a 26-year high.

Goldman Sachs (GS) economist Edward McKelvey predicts Fed policymakers won't increase rates until 2012. If so, real estate investment trusts, or REITs, which thrive on low rates, are poised to extend gains. REITs are required to pay 90% of their income to investors, so they offer high yields.

Here are analysts' 10 favorite REITs, based on median ratings. Mortgage REITs, in particular, will benefit if the Fed remains steadfast in its commitment to low interest rates. Concerns about slower U.S. economic growth and Europe's debt crisis have increased the relevance of dividends.

The Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ) has advanced 11% this year, while the large-cap S&P 500 Index has dropped 2.1%. Investors seeking income should investigate these REITs first. Of note: REIT distributions are taxed differently than dividends.
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