Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you expect the real-estate industry to thrive over time because...well, as they say, no one is making any more land, the iShares FTSE NAREIT Residential Plus 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 0.48%. It recently yielded about 3%, too.
This ETF has beaten the market over the past three and five years. 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.
What's in it?
The ETF has about half of its assets in REITs focused on apartments and 33% in health-care-related REITs.
Several real-estate companies had strong performances over the past year. Omega Healthcare
Other companies didn't do as well last year, but they could see their fortunes change in years to come. Medical Properties Trust
Senior Housing Properties Trust
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 it -- and profiting from it -- that much easier.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.