Essex Property ( ESS) pushed the Real Estate industry higher today making it today's featured real estate winner. The industry as a whole closed the day down 0.7%. By the end of trading, Essex Property rose $1.09 (0.8%) to $133.94 on average volume. Throughout the day, 537,451 shares of Essex Property exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 400,300 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $131.16-$134.30 after having opened the day at $133.07 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $132.85. Other companies within the Real Estate industry that increased today were: American Realty Investors Inc ( ARL), up 50%, Institutional Financial Markets Inc ( IFMI), up 19.5%, Roberts Realty Investors Inc ( RPI), up 13.1%, and Supertel Hospitality Inc ( SPPR), up 8.6%.

Essex Property Trust, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the ownership, operation, management, acquisition, development, and redevelopment of apartment communities primarily in the West Coast of the United States. Essex Property has a market cap of $4.3 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 146.5, above the average real estate industry P/E ratio of 129.9 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 16.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Essex Property as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity, premium valuation and poor profit margins.

On the negative front, Grubb & Ellis Company ( GBE), down 17%, Doral Financial ( DRL), down 8.2%, Retail Opportunity Investments ( ROIC), down 5.2%, and Getty Realty Corporation ( GTY), down 4.9%, were all losers within the real estate industry with HCP Inc ( HCP) being today's real estate industry loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the real estate industry could consider iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate ( IYR) while those bearish on the real estate industry could consider ProShares Short Real Estate Fund ( REK).