REITs are financial products with underlying real-estate assets expected to appreciate, assets that might include, for instance, apartment buildings, developments, mortgages, etc. Non-traded REITs are not freely traded on any exchange. Investors must rely on the issuing company for evaluations, which are difficult if not impossible to independently verify. As a category, the reputation of non-traded REITs turned sour beginning around 2010, after an influx of billions of yield-seeking investments dollars in 2008. Common to many non-traded REITs are complaints of high commissions and management fees, undisclosed risks, and unexpected liquidity problems.
Behringer-Harvard is among the largest and most popular of REITs, with over $4B in assets. In the fourth quarter of 2012 it was the target of a class-action suit accusing the company of masking poor performance and misleading investors.
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