iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Index Fund ( ICF) Following the release of strong new housing starts numbers and an optimistic report from the National Association of Homebuilders, it has appears as though the troubles surrounding the real estate industry have dissipated to a small degree. This week, investors can look forward to learning more about the housing market as new home sales and pending home sales numbers are released on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Despite the hints of strength, the homebuilding sector is not one I would encourage conservative investors to dive into at this time. While the recent good news has helped funds like the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund ( ITB) and SPDR S&P Homebuilder ETF ( XHB) gain some ground, these products have struggled to find footing over the past year. I explained last week that a better long-term bet on real estate can likely be found in a fund like ICF and the iShares NAREIT Residential Plus Capped Index Fund ( REZ). Multifamily housing continues to hold up markedly well compared to single family residences. Both ICF and REZ can provide real estate-hungry investors with comfortable exposure to this slice of the industry. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index Fund ( ITA) Investors have already watched a number of players from across the aerospace industry step up to report earnings. So far, the results have been impressive. Last week, both United Technologies ( UTX) and Honeywell ( HON) not only beat estimates but also lifted their respective full-year outlooks. On Wednesday, investors with exposure to ITA will want to keep a close watch on the earnings calendar. Industry leaders, including Boeing ( BA), Lockheed Martin ( LMT), Northrop Grumman ( NOC) and General Dynamics ( GD) are all slated to step up. Later in the week additional ITA top 10 holdings including Raytheon ( RTN), Precision Castparts ( PCP) and Rockwell Collins ( COL) will report earnings. It will be interesting to see if this batch of companies can keep the party going. Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.