Returns from emerging regional real estate investment trusts rose 36.72% in 2012, up from 12.24% a year earlier, S&P Dow Jones Indice's said.

Residential real estate led the way, with the sector's returns rising 71.97% last year, another sign the housing market is making a comeback.

Click on the chart to view sector returns.

Overall, global REIT returns grew 23.75% for the year, up from 12.18% in 2011, according to Standard & Poor’s Global Property & REIT analysis for the fourth quarter.

The global property sector grew the most in 2012, with returns rising 37.98% from a year earlier. Global retail followed, experiencing a 32.49% jump in returns over 2011 levels. Returns from the residential sector also grew 20.02% in 2012.

Click on the chart to view global property and global REIT sectors.