Real estate investment trusts

Real estate investment trusts

REITs, or real estate investment trusts, are a popular investment option for those looking to invest in real estate without directly owning properties. They provide investors with regular income streams and the potential for capital appreciation. With different REIT types available, investors can choose the one that best suits their investment goals and risk tolerance. 

What is a REIT? 

REITs are companies that operate and own revenue-generating real estate properties. They allow individuals to invest in a diversified portfolio of real estate properties without directly owning them. REITs were created in the United States in 1960 to allow everyday investors to invest in large-scale, income-producing real estate properties. They are now a popular investment option globally, with many countries having their versions of REITs. 

How REITs work 

REITs buy and manage different types of real estate properties, such as office buildings, apartments, shopping centres, hotels, and warehouses. They generate income from these properties through rent, leasing, or selling properties and then distribute a portion of the income to their investors as dividends. REITs also offer the potential for capital appreciation, as the value of the properties they own and manage can increase over time. 

Types of REITs 

Real estate investment trusts

There are two types of REITs:  

  • Equity REITs 

Equity REITs own and operate income-producing properties and generate income from rent. These estate firms hold buildings rented to tenants in various estate sectors, including shopping malls, flat complexes, office buildings, and more. They pay dividends to shareholders, who make up most of their income. 

  • Mortgage REITs 

These REITs invest in mortgages or mortgage-backed securities and generate income from the interest payments on those loans. Some REITs may also invest in both equity and mortgage-based properties. 

Pros and cons of investing in REITs 

Clearly, REITs are a favourable option for many investors. However, just like most investment types, they also have their pros and cons you should be aware of. 

The pros of investing in REITs include the following: 

  • One of the most significant benefits of investing in REITs is the potential for regular income streams.  
  • They are also professionally managed, which means investors do not have to worry about the day-to-day operations of the properties they invest in. 
  • You’ll have the chance to diversify your financial portfolio once you start investing in REITs. 
  • REITs are an excellent approach for retail investors with limited funds to gain real estate industry exposure and generate passive investment returns. 
  • Compared to other investment types, REITs typically offer high dividend yields since they are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable revenue to shareholders. 
  • Real estate transactions might take some time. On the other hand, REITs are great liquid investments. At the press of a button, you may purchase or sell a REIT at any time. 
  • REITs are eligible for special tax treatment, including that they are not subject to entity-level taxation, as long as they abide by IRS regulations. 
  • Another benefit of REITs is that they let you invest in commercial properties.   

The cons of investing in REITs include the following: 

  • A REIT’s dividend payments are not subject to the capital gains rate. They are often subject to regular income tax in some countries. 
  • Like any real estate investment, REITs are prone to volatility, frequently brought on by market trends or the popularity of a particular property. 
  • Various variables influence most investments, but in the case of REITs, interest rate fluctuations may have a significant impact. The price of REITs may suffer as a result of rising interest rates. 
  • Investors must be cautious that non-traded REITs might incur expensive upfront costs or sales charges. 
  • REITs work best as long-term investments only. 

Example of a REIT 

American Tower Corp., Prologis Inc., and Realty Income Corp. are the three biggest real estate investment trusts (REITs) trading on the New York Stock Exchange, per their market capitalisation, with Prologis Inc. as the lead. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A corporation must have most of its assets and revenue related to real estate investment, to qualify as a REIT. It must pay at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends on an annual basis in USA. In addition, the following requirements must be satisfied by a company: 

  • The entity must be set up as a corporation or a business trust. 
  • Shares are fully transferable. 
  • Is led by a board of directors or a group of trustees. 
  • Must have at least 100 shareholders. 
  • A maximum of five individuals should not have owned 50% of their shares throughout each taxable year. 
  • Earns at least 75% of the gross revenue from rents or mortgage interest. 
  • Up to 20% of a corporation’s assets may comprise shares from taxable REIT subsidiaries. 
  • Investments should account for at least 95% of REITs’ overall revenue. 
  • Real estate must make up at least 75% of all investment assets. 

To monetise their assets, real estate developers should definitely participate in REITs. This enables real estate firms to concentrate more on carrying out real estate projects than maintaining ownership of real estate assets. 

Additionally, institutional investors buy and sell REITs, including bank trust departments, endowments, pension funds, and foundations. 

Approximately 150 million households in America currently have investments in REITs either directly or indirectly via REIT exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds.  

Like any other publicly traded company, shares in a REIT that is listed on significant stock exchanges may be purchased by an individual. Shares of a REIT exchange-traded fund or a mutual fund are also available to investors.  

An investor’s financial goals can be analysed, and suitable REIT investments can be suggested by an investment advisor, broker, or financial planner. 


REITs aim to make large-scale, income-producing real estate accessible to individual investors. Without having to go out and purchase commercial real estate themselves, REITs give individual investors a means to partake in the revenue generated by such ownership. 

Rent collections provide REITs with revenue, and they must pay out 90% of this income as interest and dividends to investors. Thus, REITs give investors consistent income in this way. 


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