As the spring home-selling season kicks into high gear, many analysts hope this year will bring some bullish news for the limping housing market. Years of falling prices may finally cease.

Yet the commercial real estate sector already is strong. During the last three years, real estate investment trusts, the most liquid way to invest in commercial real estate, have been on fire. According to Morningstar, real estate has been the top-performing fund category in that time period. The average fund in the group returned 35% for the three years that ended April 5, 2012, versus 20.9% for the S&P 500.

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