Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you expect the real estate market to thrive when the economy eventually and inevitably recovers, the iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors ETF
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The iShares ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is a relatively low 0.35%.
This ETF has performed reasonably well, beating the S&P 500 over the past 10 years but lagging it over the past five. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.
With a low turnover rate of 9%, this fund isn't frantically and frequently rejiggering its holdings, as many funds do.
What's in it?
Several of this ETF's components made strong contributions to its performance this year. Health Care REIT
Other companies didn't add to the ETF's returns this year but could have an effect in the years to come. General Growth Properties
The big picture
Demand for real estate isn't going away anytime soon. A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies -- and make investing in and profiting from it that much easier.