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REITs on the Street: Lower Prices Mean Buying Opportunities

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Real estate investment trusts hit the brakes in May when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested a decrease in the central bank's bond-buying program likely to start later this year. The question is whether REITs' valuations have dropped enough to make them good investments.

REITs took a pounding after the bear market of 2008-09. The real estate recovery has since been a beacon of opportunity as equity REITs returned almost 20% in 2012 and triple-net REITs returned 22.46% that year. Equity REITs invest in and own properties, as opposed to mortgage REITs that finance them. Triple-net REITs are made up single-tenant properties with long-term contractual leases.

Through July 31 of this year, equity REITs have returned 6.67% and the triple-net REITs have returned 11.21%, according to the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and SNL Financial, as investors became spooked by the talk of withdrawing stimulus. That might have been good for REITs since they may have overvalued before. Now after the REIT selloff since May, prices are down, while fundamentals are strong and the economy is improving.

Since May 22, according to SNL Financial, US Equity REITs fell 12.48% and many of the leading triple-net REITs dropped by around 20%.

As for REITs' underlying business, most shopping center REITs have had occupancy and same-store sales improvements. Major self-storage REITs have also seen occupancy levels climb. For instance, Public Storage's (PSA) occupancy rate has risen to over 95%.

Here are four REITs that pay dividends above 6%. These REITs are all higher-yielding triple-net REITs trading at fair valuations (see chart below). Chambers Street (CSG) is arguably trading at a bargain level. American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP), Monmouth Real Estate Investment Trust (MNR), and EPR Properties (EPR) also offer yields above 6%. Here's a snapshot of the four REITs:

At the time of publication, Thomas was long Chambers Street.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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