"Global REIT ETFs are an inexpensive, tax-efficient way to get broad-based global exposure," said Advisor Partners' chief investment officer Dan Kern, who prefers diversified funds rather than buying individual REITs. Diversification also helps lessen volatility, since some foreign REITs are small and thinly traded, he added.
There are currently 12 global REIT ETFs, according to ETF Database, including one just focused on China. They're cheaper to own than actively managed REIT mutual funds, and higher expenses eat into returns, said Todd Rosenbluth, ETF research director at S&P Capital IQ, which still favors U.S. REITS over global counterparts. The average global real estate ETF expense ratio, which is 0.51 percent, is "acceptable," Rosenbluth said.
Kern's Walnut Creek, Calif.-based financial advisory firm has been upping its global REIT allocation with some non-U.S. REITs are paying yields between 5 percent and 6 percent. "That's superior to other income-producing stocks," Kern said. He is currently scouting out REIT ETFs and mutual funds that invest in Europe. "It's an interesting recovery play," he said.
(Read more: The big problem with emerging markets ETFs)
The same central banking stimulus that buoyed the U.S. housing market has also helped to pick up European and Asian markets, including Japan. There's also more demand in Europe and Japan, while supply remains muted.
Jason Yablon, global portfolio manager at real estate fund manager Cohen & Steers, said global REITs are undervalued—in fact, he thinks they're cheaper than the sum total of the physical assets they own.
Europe is a favorite REIT play for Yablon, too, and the U.K. in particular, which has the most REITs in Europe. One U.K.-based REIT he likes is Hammerson, which owns malls in Europe. He also likes SEGRO, which owns commercial properties. "There's a good pool of REITs to choose from in the U.K.," he said, "though they're mainly commercial."