U.S. REITs continued to significantly outperform the broader equity market in 2010, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts said Wednesday. U.S. REITs rose 27.95% in 2010, compared to the S&P 500’s 15.06% gain.

U.S. REITs’ 2010 gains were right on pace with their 27.99% returns in 2009.

In the past 10 years, REITs, as measured by the FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITs Index, rose an average of 10.76% a year, compared to the S&P 500’s 1.41% increase in that time.

At year-end 2010, the equity market capitalization of the U.S. REIT industry increased to $389 billion, up 44% from $271 billion at the end of 2009, but still 11% below the peak of $438 billion at the end of 2006.

The top-performing industry segments for the year were apartments, up 47.04%; followed by lodging/resorts, up 42.77%; commercial mortgage financing, up 41.99%; retail, up 33.41%, industrial, up 18.89% and office, up 18.41%.

U.S. outperformed other global listed property markets, rising 28.65% in 2010 compared to 17.21% in Asia and 9.23% in Europe.

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