The listed global real estate sector encompasses securities issued by real estate companies. These include Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and other entities such as Real Estate Operating Companies (REOCs), and Real Estate Developers.

Global Real Estate securities provide an efficient, seamless, convenient and liquid way to invest in companies that own properties such as shopping malls, office buildings, apartments, warehouses, medical facilities, datacentres, and even timber and farmland across the globe.

REITs provide a tax-efficient means of distributing rental income to shareholders.

The United States has provided the majority of investment opportunities for REITs and listed real estate companies. In addition to this, over forty-one countries have REIT-like structures.

Listed real estate companies now operate in almost every global market with the latest market to adopt a REIT structure being Sri Lanka during 2020.Further, Asia has seen a strong uptake of REITs, growing from 31 REITs in six countries in 2005 to 216 REITs in 11 countries in 2021. South Africa in turn adopted its REIT structure in 2013.

In general, to qualify as a REIT, the company must operate in the real estate business, should be managed by a board of directors or trustees, and have a minimum of 100 shareholders. It must invest at least 75% of its total assets in qualifying real estate assets and derive at least 75% of its gross income from rentals from physical property or interest on mortgages on physical property. In addition, a REIT must distribute annually to its shareholders at least 90% of its taxable income in the form of distributions/dividends. Different countries have their own variations on these general requirements.  

The global listed property market has continued to expand and now constitutes over a thousand listed companies with a total market capitalisation of over US$2.5 trillion.