How Do Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Work?

How Do Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Work?

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are a type of investment vehicle that allows investors to gain exposure to the real estate market without having to buy or manage physical properties. REITs are traded publicly on stock markets just like stocks, meaning they can be highly liquid investments.

When you invest in a REIT, your money is pooled with other investors and used to purchase income-producing commercial real estate such as office buildings, apartment complexes, or hotels. These properties generate income through rental payments and other fees which is then distributed among the REIT’s shareholders according to their percentage ownership. Any profits generated by the trust are also typically paid out as dividends to the shareholders.

In order for a REIT to maintain its tax advantages, it must consistently pay out at least 90% of its taxable earnings as dividends. As such, REITs can be an attractive option for investors seeking a steady source of passive income from dividends. They can also provide good capital appreciation potential when held for longer periods of time due to the increasing prices of real estate over inflation and economic growth.


Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are an important part of the real estate industry. They allow for a publicly traded entity to own and manage a portfolio of properties to generate income. REITs are structured so that they are able to pass income from the properties they own directly to the shareholders. This income can come in the form of rental income, sale of properties, and certain tax benefits.

Let’s explore how REITs work and what the different benefits of investing in one can be:

Definition of REITs

A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a type of security that invests in real estate through the purchase of properties, loans to property owners and developers, or interests in mortgages. REITs are a way to invest in real estate without buying a property outright. REITs pool investors’ capital and act as trustees that manage portfolios of properties on behalf of their investors.

REITs are highly liquid which makes them attractive investments for short-term and long-term investors alike. They generate income from leasing out property or selling off parts of its own portfolio, using cash flows from the underlying assets (usually commercial real estate such as office buildings or shopping centers) to fund dividends payable to shareholders. Many REITs also offer access to mortgages for purchases and refinancing of real estate investments.

These securities build wealth by creating passive income streams for shareholders that allow them to earn a steady return on their investment without having to put forth funds for properties directly. By purchasing shares in an REIT, then distributing its profits as dividends, shareholders can enjoy the security and stability associated with this form of investing while exposing their funds to fewer risks associated with volatile markets.

How REITs Work

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are a type of investment that gives investors the opportunity to earn income from properties without owning them. They are publicly traded and bought and sold on stock exchanges. REITs pool investor funds to purchase, manage and operate income-producing properties such as offices, apartments, hospitals, shopping centers, warehouses and hotels.

By investing in REITs, investors can earn returns on their investments in the form of income and capital appreciation. Let’s explore in more detail how REITs work and how they provide income to investors.

REITs purchase and manage real estate

REIT (real estate investment trusts) provide investors with an opportunity to gain exposure to real estate. REITs purchase and manage a portfolio of income-producing real estates assets, such as office buildings, shopping centers, apartments, industrial facilities, warehouses and hotels. When a REIT acquires a property, it typically puts in place a lease agreement that requires the tenant to pay rent over a fixed period of time. The rental income collected by the REIT then becomes the primary source of income for its shareholders. In addition to collecting rent payments from tenants on the properties it owns, the REIT may also make money through capital appreciation or by taking on debt to fund property improvements or acquisitions.

The majority of REITs are managed by professional companies specializing in real estate investments who are appointed by the REIT’s Board of Trustees. These managers are responsible for:

  • acquiring new properties
  • managing existing ones in order to generate profits for its investors
  • making sure that existing tenants have signed appropriate contracts and understand their obligations under these contracts
  • overseeing any necessary construction or maintenance work required for these properties
  • pursuing aggressively any tenant defaults on their rent payments or fails to comply with their responsibilities under their contract with the REIT in order to protect both the rights of investors and other tenants involved in renting space from that particular REIT.

REITs generate income through rent payments

When it comes to real estate investment trusts (REITs), the primary source of income is rent payments collected from the tenants that occupy the REIT’s properties. Due to its unique business model, a REIT does not have to own actual buildings – it can lease them. Because of this, a REIT has fewer financial obligations and can operate with more liquidity than a traditional property owner.

Most of the time, a REIT will employ a leasing agent and/or an outside third-party management company to read over contracts and collect payments from tenants on behalf of the REIT. This makes it easier for investors who don’t have direct experience in real estate or property management. The primary benefit of investing in REITS is that they pay reliable dividends based on rental income. Since their formation 40 years ago, REITS have consistently been one of the most lucrative investments available in commercial real estate.

The amount of rent payments collected by a REIT is determined by two key factors: occupancy rate and average lease rates. A higher occupancy rate suggests that there are more people occupying properties owned by your chosen fund, whereas higher rental rates reflect the cost associated with renting specific spaces within those properties.

A distinction must be made between gross rental income and net rental income – gross rental income is simply all rent payments received after expenses like taxes or maintenance are paid for but net rental income is what’s actually left for distribution as dividends when you remove those aforementioned expenses from total earnings.

While rent payments form the basis for generating a steady income from investments in real estate investment trusts, there are several smaller activities that add up to help drive returns even further.

REITs distribute income through dividends

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are rental property owners that generate revenue from the leasing of space and use those profits to distribute income through dividends. They are designed to provide investors with a reliable return by allowing them to pool their money in order to invest in the real estate market.

REITs provide an ideal opportunity for individuals who would otherwise have difficulty obtaining financing for rental property purchases. By pooling resources, REITs can purchase large-scale properties such as office buildings, apartments, malls, and other retail spaces with greater ease than small investors could achieve on their own.

Typically, REITs focus on either equity REITs or mortgage REITs. Equity REITs own and operate income-producing real estate and mortgage REITs invest in mortgages or debt-related investments secured by real estate assets. Equity REITs seek to maximize the return on invested capital by leveraging healthy occupancy rates and rental rates within individual properties while mortgage REITs take advantage of interest rate volatility and capitalize on changing demand trends in particular markets.

REIT stock prices typically trade close to net asset values (NAV) which reflect estimated market value minus debt obligations divided by a total number of shares outstanding. Unlike stocks or bonds, NAV is not necessarily reported daily but instead trades at premiums or discounts that indicate whether it’s undervalued or overvalued relative to meaningful benchmarks such as long-term dividend yields and Net Operating Income (NOI). As a result, investing in a diversified portfolio of well-selected equities may mean higher long-term returns at lower relative risk when compared to geographically concentrated investments with limited liquidity options available for exit strategies if needed.

Types of REITs

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are a popular way to invest in the real estate market without having to directly own or manage the physical property. There are many different types of REITs, including Equity REITs, Mortgage REITs, and Hybrid REITs. These different types of REITs can offer investors different levels of risk and return.

Let’s take a look at the different types of REITs and how they work:

Equity REITs

Equity REITs, also referred to as “stock” REITs, are publicly traded companies with the primary goal of owning and operating real estate holdings that generate income. Equity REITs purchase and manage properties, such as offices, apartments, shopping centers or other retail centers or industrial/warehouse facilities. They often gather revenue through rental income from tenants. Equity REITs also may invest in mortgages secured by real property. The primary focus of an equity REIT is to generate profits and pay dividends on a consistent basis. Equity REITs usually carry higher risks than a mortgage or hybrid types because they purchase and operate the physical property instead of just acting as a lender or investor.

The most common type of equity REITs is diversified or multi-sector REITs, which invest in several types of properties within different geographic areas. There also are industrial-focused REITS, office-focused REITS, and retail-focused ones. In addition to diversified equity REITS there are publicly traded specialty niche operators that own:

  • hotels/motels
  • senior living facilities
  • data centers
  • timberland

with specialized risk considerations for each category that must be evaluated by prospective investors prior to making any commitment decision regarding any particular Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).

Mortgage REITs

Mortgage REITs (mREITs) focus their investments on earning interest from mortgage-backed securities—loans against residential or commercial real estate. This type of REIT takes the mortgages made to property owners and bundles them together, then sells them ands are known as mREITs.

To stay profitable, mREITS need a steady influx of cash. To do so, they raise money by selling common stock, selling bonds, taking out loans and borrowing capital. They also borrow money by creating debt instruments in the form of mortgages, which is how a mREIT makes most of its profits; by buying home loans at one rate and then re-selling them for a higher rate. mREITs also take advantage of leverage – borrowing money to invest in these opportunities – to increase their profitability from any given investment.

Though mREITS have considerable exposure to changes in interest rates that can affect their exposure to risk, they tend to have higher yields than other types of REITs and thus pay out high dividends to investors.

Hybrid REITs

Hybrid REITs, also known as hybrid real estate investment trusts, are publicly-traded companies that own both debt and equity in real estate projects. These companies offer investors the potential for attractive yields, diversification and an easy liquidity channel for funds used to invest in these real estate assets.

Hybrid REITs typically utilize their debt investments to earn rental income from tenants on leased properties, while their equity investments typically provide more capital appreciation potential as well as income streams through dividends or interest payments. Most importantly, Hybrid REITs provide a medium to capitalize on the various macroeconomic cycles in the real estate markets and create returns which exceed those of traditional public securities.

Examples of hybrid REITs include Chimera Investment Corporation (NYSE: CIM) and Starwood Property Trust Inc. (NYSE: STWD). Such companies often carry a higher risk than other publicly traded securities due to their larger exposure to commercial real estate markets and the associated volatility that comes along with it. Investors should carefully study any such company’s financial statements to ensure they understand all risks before committing capital to it.

Benefits of Investing in REITs

Investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs) can provide investors with a unique form of passive income. REITs create rental income through the management of their properties and the distribution of the income to investors as dividends. REITs are becoming increasingly popular with investors who are looking to broaden their portfolios and benefit from the potential of high yields and steady returns.

Let’s dive into the benefits of investing in REITs:


Investing in REITs can diversify and balance your overall investment portfolio, significantly reducing your risk of major losses. By diversifying into several different real estate sectors, you are also more likely to receive consistent and predictable dividend income throughout the year. Furthermore, REITs allow you to access larger deals that would be cost prohibitive for an individual investor without having to become a registered securities broker or an accredited investor.

Additionally, investing in REITs provides investors with greater liquidity than most other investments in real estate property, because the shares are publically traded on stock market exchanges. Investing in a REIT also allows investors to gain exposure to many different properties that would otherwise be inaccessible, as individual investors may only be able to invest in one or two properties at a time. This offers the ability to spread risk and benefit from the collective strength of real estate instead of taking a single investment with higher risk.

As such, investing a portion of your portfolio into REITs can help create an efficient way for long-term growth while also potentially providing income from dividends. Combined with proper asset allocation across stocks, bonds and alternative investments, it may help you meet your savings goals – no matter your stage of life or financial situation.


Real estate investment trusts (REITs) allow investors to acquire a stake in a pool of real estate assets, such as apartment buildings or commercial developments, without having to purchase the properties directly. This makes it easier for individuals to invest in real estate no matter their financial circumstances, allowing more people to take advantage of the potential rewards of investing in the market.

REITs are highly accessible and liquid investments that have minimal entry or exit fees attached. This helps make them attractive options for those looking to diversify their portfolios and add additional asset classes. Furthermore, REITs may also offer reduced tax liability when held in an IRA account. Investments can be made online or through a broker and do not require significant upfront capital outlay like conventional real estate purchases do.

  • REITs trade on major exchanges like stocks, providing high liquidity as investors can buy and sell shares with ease.
  • This makes them accessible investments that are easy to monitor and manage over time while requiring far less effort than direct property ownership would entail.
  • Because they trade publicly on major exchanges, information about individual REITs is readily available enabling investors to make better informed decisions at the point of purchase and beyond.

Tax Advantages

Investing in REITs can provide investors with certain beneficial tax advantages. REITs typically pass through most of their income to shareholders, so the entity itself pays no corporate income tax. Furthermore, investors in a REIT can get a deduction for dividends received from the REIT that are not part of current earnings and profits and capital gains on distributions of appreciated property.

Another unique advantage to investing in a REIT is that while other investments, like stocks and bonds may be subject to double taxation (both at the corporate as well as individual level), REITS have just one layer of taxation which means more money in investors’ pockets. In addition, if an investor holds their qualifying stake for more than a year before selling, any profit made off the sale is taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate.

The tax incentives associated with investing in a REIT makes it an attractive option for those looking for additional benefits beyond regular dividend income such as:

  • Additional deductions
  • Reduced overall taxes paid on realized profits from sales or distributions from the organization.

As with all investment decisions however potential investors should always consult a tax professional before making any decisions impacting their individual financial situation.

Risks of Investing in REITs

While real estate investment trusts (REITs) can offer attractive dividend yields, they are also associated with numerous risks. In general, investing in REITs carries higher levels of risk than other real estate investments due to its focus on passive income. As such, potential investors should evaluate the risks of investing in REITs before taking the plunge.

In this article, we will discuss the various risks associated with investing in REITs:

  • Higher levels of risk than other real estate investments.
  • Potential for volatility in dividend payments.
  • Risk of underperformance relative to the broader real estate market.
  • Potential for over-concentration in a specific sector or geographic area.
  • Lack of liquidity in certain REITs.
  • Potential for management fees and other costs.

Interest Rate Risk

Interest rate risk is another important factor to consider when investing in REITs. Like any fixed-income security, a REIT’s valuation will move in the opposite direction of interest rates. As interest rates go up, prices of REITs go down, and vice versa. This is because as interest rates go up, there are more attractive options for investors than investing in lower-yielding assets such as REITs. Similarly, if interest rates drop, then the yield on REIT investments may make them a more attractive option and thus lead to an increase in its price.

REITs are heavily reliant on the rental income they receive from their properties and the majority of their profits come from this source. When interest rates rise they affect not only mortgage cost but also the rate at which lenders expect rent payments to increase. The higher cost of borrowing and rising rents create a situation where investors must weigh whether or not it is advantageous to take on additional financing when considering investment opportunities in real estate properties held by a REIT.

Inflation Risk

Inflation risk is a concern for any long-term investor, and REITs are no exception. Since REITs derive their income through tenants, they will be dependent on the rental rates of their properties and the strength of the residential real estate market. As inflation rises, so too will rental rates, resulting in higher incomes for REITs owners. However, if these rates do not keep up with market forces – or worse yet, if they start to decline – then investors may find that their dividends are a much less attractive return than when first invested.

It is important to note that inflation also affects mortgage rates as well as other costs associated with property ownership such as taxes and insurance premiums – all of which can ultimately cause income for the underlying properties to decrease significantly over time.

To mitigate this risk, it is important for investors to:

  1. Diversify across multiple real estate sectors
  2. Strategically select locations that have flexible lease terms
  3. Carefully analyze each investment before committing capital to it

Additionally, by investing in REITs with longer holding periods such as net lease offers or sale-leasebacks can be beneficial when inflation becomes an issue.

Market Risk

REITs also carry market risk, which is the risk that stock prices can drop due to a variety of factors including economic, political, or other events. This type of risk cannot be diversified away and applies to all investments in the equity market. The value of a REIT’s shares may go up and down with changes in the broader market, so investors should consider the performance of other equity index funds and compare relative performance when evaluating a real estate investment trust.

Additionally, since many REITs specialize in a single geographic region or property type, their share prices can be highly dependent on movements in that specific geographic region or property segment. Consequently, it is important for investors to research any potential REIT investments that they are considering and make sure they are comfortable with their specific underlying assets, so they know how sensitive those assets may be to movements in the broader market.

Why You Should Not Invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Investing in REITs can be an attractive option for those looking for a source of passive income and potential capital appreciation. However, there are certain drawbacks that you should consider before investing your money.

Firstly, investments in REITs come with a certain level of risk. As with any stock or financial instrument, the value of REITs can fluctuate dramatically due to changes in the real estate market, interest rates, and other external factors beyond your control. This means that your investment could potentially lose money if these factors move against you.

REITs also require significant capital to invest in as they usually have high entry fees and relatively higher transaction costs than other asset classes such as stocks or bonds. Furthermore, since REITs must pay out at least 90% of their taxable earnings as dividends in order to maintain their tax advantages, the returns from these investments are generally lower than other forms of equity investments.

Why You Should Invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are a great way for investors to gain exposure to the real estate market without having to buy and manage physical properties. REITs are publicly traded companies that own, operate, or finance income-producing real estate ventures. They offer investors a variety of benefits such as diversification, high liquidity, and potential for strong returns.

Diversification is one of the main advantages of investing in REITs. By investing in multiple REITs across different sectors such as residential, commercial, and industrial real estate, investors can spread their risk across different types of properties and markets. This helps to reduce the volatility associated with investing in any single sector or property type.

REITs also offer investors high liquidity as they are publicly traded on major exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). This means that investors can easily buy and sell shares in these companies without having to worry about finding buyers or sellers for their investments.

Finally, REITs have the potential to generate strong returns for investors over time. Many REITs pay out dividends which can provide a steady stream of income for investors while also providing capital appreciation when share prices increase over time.

Overall, investing in REITs is an attractive option for many investors looking to gain exposure to the real estate market while enjoying the benefits of diversification, liquidity, and potential for strong returns.


How to invest in REITs

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are a great way to diversify your portfolio and invest in income-producing real estate assets. Investing in REITs is relatively easy, as you can purchase shares of publicly traded REIT stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds with a few clicks of the mouse. You can also invest in REITs through a brokerage account, which usually takes just a few minutes.

When investing in REITs, it’s important to understand the different types available. Publicly traded REITs are companies that own and manage income-producing real estate assets such as apartment buildings, shopping centers, office buildings and hotels. There are also private REITs, which are not publicly traded but offer similar benefits. Additionally, there are mortgage REITs that invest in mortgages or mortgage-backed securities rather than physical properties.

It’s also important to consider the fees associated with investing in REITs. Most publically traded REITs have management fees that range from 0.5% to 1%, while private REITS may have higher fees due to their lack of liquidity and transparency. It’s also important to research the performance of any particular REIT before investing your money.

Overall, investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) can be an attractive option for those looking for strong dividends and long-term capital appreciation potential. With proper research and understanding of the different types available, you can make informed decisions about where to put your money for maximum returns.


Kylie Mahar

Kylie Mahar is a financial guru who loves to help others save money. She writes for, and is always looking for new ways to help people make the most of their money. Kylie is passionate about helping others, and she firmly believes that financial security is one of the most important things in life.

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