Investments in public, non-listed REITs and business development companies (BDCs) increased by 84 percent last year, according to two industry specialists.

New investments in REITs and BDCs, known collectivey as direct investments, grew to $24.5 billion in 2013, up $11.2 billion from the 2012 total of $13.4 billion, according to the Investment Program Association, a trade group for direct investment vehicles, and Robert A. Stanger & Company, an investment banking firm in Shrewsbury, N.J.

Investments in REITs and BDCs has grown from about $6 billion over the past nine years ago, according to the two groups.

“The evolution of this relatively young industry will ultimately lead to substantially higher levels of investment in coming years,” says Kevin Gannon, managing director of Stanger.

The liquidation of non-listed REITs formed in prior years, which have produced attractive total returns to investors, contributed to the increase. Also, investors are attracted to the continuing yield advantage of real estate and private corporate development loans over traditional fixed-income investment alternatives, according to Gannon, who also cited the increasing use of investment diversity to cope with market uncertainty.

“Allocating funds to direct investments, which have low correlations with financial market instruments, is a logical and productive strategy in the current economic climate,” says Kevin M. Hogan, president and CEO of the Investment Program Association.