Tanger pays a current dividend yield of 2.37% and has managed to pay and increase dividends for 19 years in a row. Clearly, Tanger has a talent for innovation and more importantly the company has a track record for rewarding shareholders -- 22.79% year-over-year total return.

Plato said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." For REITs, that necessity is the forced dividends that provide investors with the most consistent and durable forms of income. Conversely, REIT investors today are demanding high-quality income and the best REITs will provide the most enduring differentiation. That sums it up in a word: Innovation.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

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

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