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Mutual Fund Commentary

Mutual funds offer investors a cost effective method of investing in the real estate sector. These funds offer significant protection against inflationary pressures and research has shown they can perform as well or better on this front compared to gold and other precious metals. Real estate has weathered rough seas recently but the presence of these investments generally adds stability to a portfolio. This is because the volatility in property prices is far less compared to the kind experienced by stocks. Including these funds in a well balanced portfolio would increase returns while reducing the risk factor as a whole.

Below we will share with you 5 top rated real estate funds. Each has earned a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) as we expect the fund to outperform its peers in the future. To view the Zacks Rank and past performance of all real estate funds, then click here.

ING Real Estate A (CLARX - MF report) seeks long term capital growth and current income. At least 80% of its assets are invested in common and preferred stocks of real estate companies and real estate investment trusts. It is non-diversified and may also invest in convertible securities and IPOs. The real-estate fund returned 98.13% over the last one year period.

Joseph P. Smith is the fund manager and has managed this real estate fund since 2007.

Cohen & Steers Realty Shares (CSRSX - MF report) invest the majority of its assets in equity securities of real estate companies. It invests in common and preferred stock, convertible securities and shares of real estate investment trusts. The real-estate fund returned 100.27% in the last one year period and has a ten year annualized return of 11.38%.

As of December 2009, this real-estate fund held 55 issues, with 10.29% of its total assets invested in Simon Property Group, Inc.

Forward Select Income A (KIFAX - MF report) seeks long term capital appreciation as well as current income. It invests heavily in real estate investment trusts and real estate companies. It focuses on preferred stock and debt, but may also invest in common stock, rights and warrants. The real-estate fund returned 115.42% in the last one year period.

The real-estate fund has a minimum initial investment of $4,000 and an expense ratio of 1.52% compared to a category average of 1.52%.

JPMorgan US Real Estate A (SUSIX) invests the majority of its assets in domestic real estate companies whose securities are traded publicly. At least 25% of its assets are invested in companies with interests in the real estate sector. The fund has a ten year annualized return of 10.13%.

Kenneth D. R. Statz is the Fund Manager and he has been managing this real estate fund since 1997.

Natixis AEW Real Estate A (NRFAX) seeks capital appreciation and above average income. It invests heavily in shares of real estate investment trusts whose primary income is derived from the rent of properties. The real-estate fund returned 96.31% over the last one year period.

The real-estate fund has an expense ratio of 1.50% compared to a category average of 1.52%

To view the Zacks Rank and past performance of all real estate funds, then click here.

About Zacks Mutual Fund Rank

By applying the Zacks Rank to mutual funds, investors can find funds that not only outpaced the market in the past but are also expected to outperform going forward. Learn more about the Zacks Mutual Fund Rank at http://www.zacks.com/funds/mutualfund/

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