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Real estate funds: Who’s on top?
Real estate investing is one of the primary ways to help clients diversify their portfolios. Clients who have the means and the time to invest directly in real estate may be able to glean benefits such as creating tax deferrals and controlling cash flow. But for most clients who want to add a noncorrelated asset to their investment mix without the considerable troubles of investing in property, a real estate fund is the more likely choice.

Scroll through to see the top real estate mutual funds ranked by three-year returns. Only funds with at least $100 million in assets are listed. All data from Morningstar.
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15. Nuveen Real Estate Securities I
Ticker: FARCX
1-Yr. Return: 3.48%
3-Yr. Return: 11.24%
Expense Ratio: 1.05%
Total Assets (millions): $5,300
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14. Franklin Real Estate Securities A
Ticker: FREEX
1-Yr. Return: 3.86%
3-Yr. Return: 11.33%
Expense Ratio: 0.99%
Total Assets (millions): $654
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13. Natixis AEW Real Estate
Ticker: NRFYX
1-Yr. Return: 4.76%
3-Yr. Return: 11.37%
Expense Ratio: 1.10%
Total Assets (millions): $226
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12. Oppenheimer Real Estate A
Ticker: OREAX
1-Yr. Return: 2.39%
3-Yr. Return: 11.43%
Expense Ratio: 1.33%
Total Assets (millions): $1,474
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11. Fidelity Real Estate Index Instl
Ticker: FSRNX
1-Yr. Return: 4.39%
3-Yr. Return: 11.66%
Expense Ratio: 0.07%
Total Assets (millions): $843
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10. Alpine Realty Income & Growth Instl
Ticker: AIGYX
1-Yr. Return: 3.60%
3-Yr. Return: 11.66%
Expense Ratio: 1.26%
Total Assets (millions): $125
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9. Fidelity Real Estate Investment Port
Ticker: FRESX
1-Yr. Return: 5.95%
3-Yr. Return: 11.87%
Expense Ratio: 0.78%
Total Assets (millions): $5,563
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8. JHFunds2 Real Estate Equity NAV
Ticker: JHAZX
1-Yr. Return: 4.71%
3-Yr. Return: 11.92%
Expense Ratio: 0.93%
Total Assets (millions): $222
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7. T. Rowe Price Real Estate
Ticker: TRREX
1-Yr. Return: 4.78%
3-Yr. Return: 11.98%
Expense Ratio: 0.76%
Total Assets (millions): $6,856
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6. Principal Real Estate Securities R2
Ticker: PRENX
1-Yr. Return: 3.53%
3-Yr. Return: 12.02%
Expense Ratio: 1.57%
Total Assets (millions): $3,143
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5. Cohen & Steers Realty Shares
Ticker: CSRSX
1-Yr. Return: 5%
3-Yr. Return: 12.11%
Expense Ratio: 0.96%
Total Assets (millions): $6,206
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4. AMG Managers Real Estate Securities
Ticker: MRESX
1-Yr. Return: 5.30%
3-Yr. Return: 12.24%
Expense Ratio: 1.17%
Total Assets (millions): $452
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3. Cohen & Steers Instl Realty Shares
Ticker: CSRIX
1-Yr. Return: 5.23%
3-Yr. Return: 12.33%
Expense Ratio: 0.75%
Total Assets (millions): $3,287
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2. Baron Real Estate Institutional
Ticker: BREIX
1-Yr. Return: -4.42%
3-Yr. Return: 12.52%
Expense Ratio: 1.06%
Total Assets (millions): $1,254
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1. Cohen & Steers Real Estate Securities A
Ticker: CSEIX
1-Yr. Return: 7.35%
3-Yr. Return: 14%
Expense Ratio: 1.22%
Total Assets (millions): $2,628