Building your retirement account to $1 million may seem like a tall order if you're starting with just $150,000. But a lot can happen in 10 years, particularly if you invest your money strategically in stocks that are poised for exceptional growth.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are often overlooked as a way to grow a retirement account, but they can be a great way to turn $150,000 into $1 million or more. REITs invest in real estate and real estate-related securities, allowing investors to not only diversify their portfolio in real estate but also earn reliable dividends, which can help boost your retirement savings' growth. For example, if you had equally invested $150,000 in Extra Space Storage, American Tower, and Prologis in the spring of 2012, you'd be sitting on over $1 million-plus today, benefiting from favorable dividend returns. 

The key to having million-dollar retirement status is determining which companies will shine during the next decade. If you're looking for ripe new investment opportunities to further diversify your portfolio, here's why Life Storage (LSI), Sun Communities (SUI -0.46%), and NewLake Capital Partners (NLCP 1.16%) are standout picks.

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1. Life Storage

For nearly 30 years, self-storage REITs have consistently been the top-performing REIT sector. That alone makes it an appealing industry to diversify into, but its recession resilience is what makes it a super-appealing buy for the next decade. Demand for storage space actually increases in times of turbulence like a recession, something some experts say the U.S. could be headed for in the coming years.

Life Storage has been a long-standing winner, providing an annualized return of more than 20% during the past 10 years. Considering it's one of the smaller self-storage REITs, having ownership or interest in just 1,076 locations, there's certainly still room for the company to grow.

Unlike many of its competitors, Life Storage doesn't develop its own facilities; it acquires existing facilities through joint ventures and strategic acquisitions, renovating them to meet current standards for class A storage facilities. This helps it manage supply in the market.

It also offers third-party management services for other self-storage operators, a business model that can help increase revenue without having to acquire more properties or take on debt to do so. The company has a great balance sheet and low debt ratios, having just 4.5 times debt to EBIDTA (earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization). Based on its performance in 2021, Life Storage increased revenue by 14.1%, funds from operations (FFO) by 27.7%, and net operating income (NOI) by 19.4%, I see Life Storage having another strong decade ahead.

2. Sun Communities

Sun Communities is a residential REIT specializing in the development, sale, and leasing of mobile homes, RV spaces, and marina slips in resorts across the globe. Over the last two years, the company has seen incredible demand, particularly in its short-term rental spaces in its RV resorts and marinas, but also in its rental properties and sale of mobile homes. In 2021, FFO rose by 27.9%, NOI grew 11.2%, and home sale activity increased by 42.6% year over year.

Residential housing is less resilient to recessions than the self-storage industry. If budgets get too tight, particularly as compared to current rental rates or housing prices, demand will falter, bringing rental and price growth down with it. However, a few things Sun Communities has going for it is the fact that it's diversified in several different industries while also directly providing more affordable housing. Its manufactured rental properties run around 50% less per square foot than a traditional home, which on average cost 254% more than a manufactured home. This is huge given today's shortage of affordable homes.

Like Life Storage, this is another stock that has performed incredibly over the last decade, providing an annualized return of just under 20%, and it still has room to grow. It just completed an acquisition of Park Holidays UK, the leading mobile home and RV resort operator in the U.K., which added to its portfolio substantially. There are definitely headwinds that could slow growth, but I think it's definitely one that will still prosper in the coming decade.

3. NewLake Capital Partners

NewLake Capital Partners is one of the newest REITs to hit the market, coming public in August 2021. You don't often see small-cap companies like this make the list for decade-long winners, but there are several reasons I think NewLake Capital Partners could be a huge winner over the next 10 years.

The company specializes in buying existing real estate from cannabis operators and then leasing it back to them over long-term net leases, a structure called sale-leaseback. This business model has been a proven winner in the industry because U.S. laws prevent cannabis operators from storing or borrowing money from federal institutions such as banks.

Only one other public REIT specializes in this business model -- Innovative Industrial Properties. IIPR went public in 2017 and over the past five years, it's dominated this niche, providing an annualized return of 60%.

NewLake is right on track to follow in its footsteps, but the only difference is that NewLake trades for a much greater discount than its larger predecessor. There is long-term concern about the future of marijuana REITs like NewLake because of federal legalization, something that could happen in the next decade. But I don't see this is a huge problem. NewLake benefits from long-term leases, which have an average weighted term of 14.5 years, covering well beyond a decade's growth. Plus, private funding and alternative financing structures like this have existed in the private marketplace for decades, even when traditional loans were an option.

While these three stocks show signs of a promising future, nothing is guaranteed. The next year could hold more market turbulence than expected. It's always a good idea to diversify your portfolio into a variety of industries and investment sectors.

We would never recommend you put your entire retirement savings into just three stocks. But if you have some extra cash in your retirement account and want to supercharge your growth, these three are a viable way to reach a million dollars or more in just 10 years' time.