Multi-family housing could be an interesting counterintuitive idea. Yes, vacancy rates are still near alltime records and unemployment is still very high. And, yes we still believe the economy is on less than stable footing. However, this could be an interesting play. The Great Recession forced builders to cut supply and we may just be seeing the bottom of rent deflation and landlord concessions. Construction costs have also fallen over the past year. More importantly, this has a more long-term demographic aspect to it. The key rental cohort (age 20-34) is going to expand by 5 million over the next decade. You have to think the housing debacle will certainly have an affect on the buying mentality of the younger generation. Its not a stretch of the imagination to think the Recession will push housing purchases to later dates than the previous era (post-Tax credits, of course).
ETFs worthy of a look:
REZ iShares FTSE NAREIT Residential Index Fund
ICF iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors