Real estate investment trusts are historically one of the best-performing asset classes around. There are many types of REITs available.Retail REITs are the single biggest investment type in the U.S. About a quarter of all REITs are invested in shopping malls and freestanding retail stores. Retail REITs make money from the rent they charge tenants, so look for retail REITs with strong anchor tenants, like grocery and home improvement stores. They should also have good profits, strong balance sheets and low debt. Residential REITs own and operate multi-family rental apartment buildings and manufactured housing. Because the best apartment markets are found in places where home affordability is low, the best residential REITs are usually large urban centers where apartment supply is low and demand is rising. Healthcare REITs invest in the real estate of hospitals, retirement homes and similar locations. Their success depends on the healthcare system, and as long as healthcare funding is strong, so, too are healthcare REITs. Office REITs invest in office buildings, and receive rental income from tenants. Investors should consider things like the economy, unemployment and vacancy rates when looking at an office REIT. And about 10% of REITs invest in mortgages instead of real estate. When assessing a REIT, look for companies that have provided big dividends and long-term capital appreciation. Use a REIT’s funds from operations, which is its net income minus sale of any property in a given year and depreciation. Divide the dividend per share by the FFO; the higher the yield the better. Also, remember strong management matters and quality counts.