NEW YORK (ETF Expert) -- Since the summertime lows, a number of themes have gained enormous traction. U.S. real estate is benefiting from ultra-low mortgage rates, limited supply and remarkable demand from overseas buyers.

Chinese leadership continues to provide just enough government support to maintain economic targets. And the European Central Bank is having success at containing its sovereign debt woes, in spite of the region's deepening recession.

Investors that engaged the trends early have profited immensely from price appreciation in certain ETFs. Since June, for example, the

iShares DJ Home Construction Fund

(ITB) - Get Report

has had little difficulty soaring skyward on the notion that a genuine real estate renaissance is in progress. (See the chart below.)

However, if fiscal cliff concerns elevate as 2012 draws to a close, you may see investors with large capital gains in the sector take profits.


(AAPL) - Get Report

shareholders have witnessed this activity for more than a month.

It follows that the price of ITB may revert to its mean, or 200-day exponential moving average. That's close to 14% drop from present levels. Moreover, we typically think of assets that are 10% above critical trend lines as being "overbought."

None of these circumstances alter the big-picture theme that real estate may finally be getting out of the dog house. Are there ETF alternatives, then, for profiting from increases in home construction?

I suggest that investors intrigued by property prospects look at global timber companies.

Guggenheim Global Timber

(CUT) - Get Report


iShares Global Timber and Forestry

(WOOD) - Get Report

both have strong weightings in a personal REIT favorite,

Plum Creek Timber


, as well as worldwide forest products manufacturer,


(WY) - Get Report

. That said,

iShares Global Timber and Forestry

(WOOD) - Get Report

has a lower expense ratio (0.48%) than CUT (0.65%); WOOD is currently 8.5% above its 200-day EMA.

An unflappable ETF throughout most of 2012 has been

iShares MSCI Philippines

(EPHE) - Get Report

. Its year-to-date success is partially attributable to 5% appreciation in the country's currency as well as the country's enviable debt-to-GDP ratio of 50%. Moreover, credit agencies from S&P to Moody's upgraded the Philippines' sovereign bonds in the summer. Perhaps most importantly, trade with China has skyrocketed, expected to hit $30 billion by year-end.

On the other hand, the herd mentality has pushed EPHE to all-time highs and nearly 16% above a critical moving average. It's hard to imagine a scenario where EPHE does not experience a near-term 10% pullback.

In my estimation, there are better values in funds like

iShares MSCI Singapore

(EWS) - Get Report


iShares MSCI Malaysia

(EWM) - Get Report

. Both have more attractive price-to-earnings ratios, significantly better annual yields (3.6%) and vibrant trade relations throughout the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, neither EWM nor EWS are technically "overbought."

There's a feeling by some of the investment community that the European Monetary Union may finally be getting itself out of its three-year nightmare. This has benefited some of the more financially responsible members of the alliance such as Germany and Austria. German stocks have recently hit four-year highs, while

iShares Austria

(EWO) - Get Report

has amassed a staggering 33% since its late July bottom. It also rests in overbought territory -- more than 11% above its trend line. (See the chart below.)

I might be confident that a number of European multinationals --


(SAP) - Get Report



(SNY) - Get Report


Louis Vuitton

-- can ultimately thrive. On the other hand, the strong possibility of sharp declines in the euro lead me to a dollar-hedged alternative.


WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity

(HEDJ) - Get Report

. Not only does it hedge against potential declines in the euro, it provides diversification across leading corporations throughout Europe. Equally beneficial, HEDJ has its greatest exposure in consumer staples and consumer discretionary, where names like


(BAYRY) - Get Report



(UN) - Get Report


Anheuser-Busch Inbev

(BUD) - Get Report

have an impressive worldwide footprint.

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

Disclosure Statement: ETF Expert is a website that makes the world of ETFs easier to understand. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial and/or its clients may hold positions in ETFs, mutual funds and investment assets mentioned. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert website. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships. You may review additional ETF Expert at the site.

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