In this paper, we analyze the potential influence of top executives on the performance of US real estate investment trusts by using a dataset of 101 listed US REITs for the period 2003 through 2007. In doing so, a broad range of company variables such as balance sheet data as well as personal CEO information such as fixed and variable income, individual education level, tenure, stake in the company, etc. are applied within a panel regression setting. On the one hand, the theoretical framework is derived from organizational theory, which includes the contrasting view between the deterministic and the voluntaristic approach of human capital theory. On the other hand, based on agency theory, the differing mechanisms of corporate governance in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are compared to regular listed corporations. Thereby, we build upon the findings of Feng, Ghosh and Sirmans (2005), Ooi (2000), Ghosh and Sirmans (2003) as well as Friday, Sirmans and Conover (1999). The empirical results suggest that the personal characteristics of CEOs play a significant role with regard to the performance of the individual company measured by return on asset (ROA). Thus, conclusions can be drawn with regard to CEO incentive systems, CEO change as well as CEO search.