Editor's note: Today is the first installment of a new series of columns by real estate reporter Nicholas Yulico called "Bricks and Mortar" where Nicholas will generate real-estate-related stock ideas for TheStreet.com readers. Welcome to Bricks and Mortar. Today, I'm going to take a close look at four real estate plays and share my thoughts on the prospects for the companies. But before I dive into the first ideas, let me make clear that this is not intended to be a trading portfolio but rather is intended to give investors a head start on their homework by providing ideas of where opportunity lies in the real estate sector and where pitfalls may loom. Beyond the typical real estate plays such as homebuilders or real estate investment trusts, I'll also look at gaming, lodging, lenders, real estate operating companies and hidden real estate stories (such as retail owners). If I believe a stock has strong prospects, I'll "own" that property, and when I see stocks that could face trouble, I'll "flag" them. I'll provide an in-depth look at each stock we own or flag. Today I'm going to kick things off by tackling some REIT, gaming and homebuilder names. REITs, or real estate investment trusts, have had a big run over the past few years, but investors don't need to cash in their chips. I believe it's foolish to follow the drastically bearish sentiment about the sector coming mostly from macro-focused investors who are missing the story with REITs. There has been a tremendous repricing of commercial real estate in recent years, as evidenced by the numerous mergers and private equity deals in the sector. The sector offers a dividend yield plus capital gains.