September 19, 2011
Dear Sir or Madam,
You are absolutely correct on the removal of the exemption on REITS, being regulated by the SEC.
Let me list for you those most egregious elements of these instruments:
1. REITS come to public consumers thru the delivery by commission hungry stock brokers, and the up front commissions range from 11-13%--right off the top.
2. The prospectuses that accompany these offerings are voluminous (can range from 180-335 pages). Show me a retired unsophisticated investor who will read this + understand it.
3. The prospectus does address the serious conflicts of interest to investors--as required; yet, in my experience is rarely noted by the stock broker to a consumer. Instead the 6-8% dividend that the REIT "might" pay is touted. Consumers are left to be prey to the stock brokers whose firms have made 'special compensation arrangements' to sell these things.
4. Consumers are ill aware that the REIT Board of Directors has full discretion to Halt all redemptions [especially if the funds from operations is less than they expected]
**This insidious risk, puts all qualified monies invested in harms' way with the IRS, since a cessation of withdrawals/redemtionis--ordered by the Directors--affects the ability of a person to make their annual Required Minimum Distribution. How does an elderly retired investor avoid this when the broker has put all of their qualified IRA monies in a REIT?
5. Annual statements are deceptive (and yet the process was approved by yielding to special real estate interests) in that they show the initial outlay of an investor's monies as the
"actual ongoing value" of their shares. In many cases, there are no annual appraisals done [for the 1st 3-years] on the underlying properties owned by the REIT; nor does this allow for the automatic reduction in value of shares owned by the consumer due to the upfront commissions charged at time of investment purchase. This is intentionally deceptive.
6. These investment products are supremely illiquid, have a low probability of being able to be redeemed on the secondary market (without serious loss to a retiree), and put a senior citizen's financial future seriously at risk.
7. The fees paid to the "conflicted' labyrinth of management structures and their officers in REITS, places the actual return of the investor's own money supremely at risk.
8. Allowing these complex and highly risky and leveraged investments to maintain exemption from SEC regulation, is pretending that they are pillars of real estate financing. They are PONZI schemes that should be eradicated by the SEC if it truly upholds its mission of: protecting the investor. REITs don't formulate capital they destroy it. Stop them from harming any more of our fellow countrymen, please. Especially the very vulnerable retirees [and senior citizens] to whom many of these REITs are sold.
Alan C. Kifer, Certified Financial Planner, Registered Financial Consultant, Certified Tax Specialist, and member of NAIFA [National Assoc of Insurance and Financial Advisors].