Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are investment vehicles that own or invest in income-producing real estate of various types, such as apartment buildings, industrial buildings, hotels, hospitals, offices, shopping centers, storage, nursing homes and student housing. Many exchange-traded funds (ETFs) give investors access to the real estate markets. Fortunately, if investors are bearish and like to bet against the real estate markets, a few ETFs exist for this purpose as well. Below are three ETFs that you can use to short the real estate market in varying degrees.

Proshares Short Real Estate

The Proshares Short Real Estate Fund (NYSEARCA: REK) seeks to return -1x the daily return of the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index. The fund achieves this objective by investing in various swaps on the index. As of July 14, 2016, the fund had $27.4 million in assets under management (AUM) and an expense ratio of 0.95%. Since the fund's inception date on March 6, 2010, it realized an annualized return of -15.8% through June 30, 2016. Annual returns for the fund have ranged from -24.07 to -5.19%. Year to date, the fund has lost approximately 12%. Versus the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index, the fund has a correlation of -0.99 and a beta of -1.0, while against the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 index, the correlation and beta are 0.48 and -0.6, respectively. Through June 30, the fund had a standard deviation of 13.7%, and when calculated against the S&P 500 index, the fund had a five-year upside capture ratio of -85.7% and a five-year downside capture ratio of -46.5%.

ProShares UltraShort Real Estate

The ProShares UltraShort Real Estate Fund (NYSEARCA: SRS) aims to return -2x the daily return of the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index. The fund attains this goal by investing in swaps on the index as well as trading swaps on the iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF (NYSEARCA: IYR). Based on the 2x nature of the fund, if the index declines by 5%, investors in SRS gain 10%. Likewise, if the index increases by 10%, an investor in SRS loses 20%. As of July 14, 2016, the fund had $30.7 million in AUM and an expense ratio of 0.95%. The fund was created on Jan. 30, 2007, and has realized a -39.4% annualized return since its opening. The range of annual returns since inception is -85.2 to -11%. Against the fund's index, SRS has a correlation of -0.99 and a beta of -2. When calculated against the S&P 500, these values are 0.48 and -1.15, respectively. The fund had a standard deviation of 27% through the end of June and five-year upside and downside capture ratios of -176% and -86%, respectively, versus the S&P 500.

Direxion Daily Real Estate Bear 3X ETF

The Direxion Daily Real Estate Bear 3X ETF (NYSEARCA: DRV) is a fund only suitable for investors willing to take on high risk levels. The fund aims to return -3x the daily return of the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) U.S. REIT Index. Thus, if the index declines by 5%, an investor in DRV gains 15%. On the other hand, if the index increases by 10%, the investor loses 30%. The fund had $16.9 million in AUM and an expense ratio of 0.98%, as of July 14, 2016. Since the fund's inception on July 16, 2009, it has realized an annualized return of -58.99%. Annual returns for the fund have ranged from -71.7 to -22.3% since the fund began. The fund has a correlation of 0.99 and a beta of -2.83 versus the S&P U.S. REIT index. The fund's standard deviation is 43.6%. Calculated against the S&P 500, the fund has five-year upside and downside capture ratios of -277% and -59%, respectively.

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