What Are Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and How Can They Help You Invest?

What Are Real Estate Investment Trusts?

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are publicly traded companies that own or finance income-producing real estate. They provide investors with the opportunity to invest in professionally managed portfolios of real estate assets without having to purchase properties directly.

REITs offer high liquidity, diversification, and potentially higher returns than other forms of real estate investing. REITs trade like stocks on major exchanges and can be bought and sold just like any other security.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are a way to invest in real estate without having to purchase physical property. REITs are publically traded companies that are required to invest in real estate and distribute at least 90 percent of their income to shareholders as dividends.

REITs can be categorized in two ways: equity REITs and mortgage REITs. Equity REITs invest in physical properties while mortgage REITs invest in mortgages secured by real estate assets.

In this article, we’ll discuss REITs in more detail and explore the pros and cons of investing in them.

Definition of a real estate investment trust (REIT)

A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that owns, operates, or finances income-generating real estate. REITs can be listed publicly like other companies on stock exchanges and typically pay out a portion of their profits to shareholders as dividends.

REITs have grown in popularity since the mid-1980s when the US Congress first established them in order to promote investments in real estate. Today many different types of REITs exist, including residential, industrial and commercial. These trusts can be private or publicly traded entities with investors buying and selling shares of ownership on the public markets.

REITs benefit shareholders by providing cash flow via dividend payments as well as potential capital gains through trading on the public markets. As part of their corporate structure, they are also required to pass at least 90% of their income onto shareholders in the form of dividends making them an attractive option for investors seeking regular income from their investments.

They can also provide diversification benefits if held alongside stocks and bonds, due to their unique entry into passively operated real estate holdings and properties across multiple sectors.

What Are Real Estate Investment Trusts: Types of REITs

There are different types of real estate investment trusts (REITs) available to investors. Each type has its own unique characteristics and advantages, which makes it important to understand the different types of REITs before investing in one.

Here, we will look at the various types of REITs and explore the pros and cons of each in order to help you decide which type of REITs is best for your needs:

Equity REITs

Equity REITs, sometimes referred to as stock REITs, are in the business of owning and managing real estate without financing it. They typically own office buildings, industrial parks, apartment complexes and shopping centers. These REITs create value for their shareholders by maintaining occupancy rates and actively engaging with tenants in order to generate income.

Equity REITs are generally categorized into two primary types: public non-traded and publicly traded. Publicly traded Equity REITs are listed on a major stock exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. These companies are highly liquid with changing pricing, volume, and dividend distributions over time.

On the other hand, public non-traded Equity REITs do not trade on any exchange or market; therefore investors cannot buy or sell shares in these publicly offered vehicles until after the conclusion of certain offering periods established by the sponsoring company.

The structure of Equity REITs can vary significantly depending on geographic location, industry focus, and size of the portfolio. A common form of an Equity REIT is a Residential Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) which is focused on buying up residential properties such as multi-family homes or single-family homes that generate rental income from tenants.

Commercial Property Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT’s) invest in commercial properties such as office buildings that operate under long leasehold contracts to large corporations providing predictable cash flow for distribution throughout the life of their investment vehicle.

Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust generates revenue through capital appreciation realized through sale transactions when it exits investments and also real estate taxes generated due to ownership of land parcels usually located near infrastructure like airports or logistics hubs seeking rapid appreciation through economic growth cycles when access to these regions produce additional premium pricing verse other areas who do not have such easy access roadway’s power grids water reserves etc…

Mortgage REITs

Mortgage Real Estate Investment Trusts (MREITs) are a type of REIT that invests in mortgages, mortgage-backed securities or other similar debt instruments. MREITs are popular investments because they provide high-income yields with relatively low volatility compared to stocks and mutual funds.

These trusts typically use leverage to maximize their returns and employ portfolio management strategies to minimize risk. They tend to specialize in different types of investments, such as commercial mortgages, residential mortgages, consumer loans or government-backed bonds.

MREITs can be further divided into two broad categories – equity REITs and mortgage REITs. Equity REITs utilize debt financing obtained through bonds and other instruments to purchase real estate assets such as stocks or commercial properties.

Mortgage REITs on the other hand use debt financing primarily from banks to purchase portfolios of loan instruments such as residential mortgage loans and CMBS (commercial mortgage-backed securities). These mortgages can then be securitized into pooled assets known as pass-through certificates (“PTC”), which are typically sold via public stock exchanges or over-the-counter markets around the world.

The primary goal of an MREIT is to generate income for investors through spreads between borrowing costs (debt) and investing profits earned by buying investment vehicles that generate higher returns than short-term prime rates (assets). This spread is often referred to as the “leverage effect” where risks associated with higher interest rates are partially compensated by the earned interest difference on borrowed capital versus asset returns earned on investing capital obtained by an MREIT company’s operations.

Hybrid REITs

Hybrid REITs, also known as “mixed-use” REITs, own and operate a combination of types of real estate assets. These can include retail centers, office space, and multifamily residential complexes. Unlike other asset categories, hybrid REITs don’t just specialize in one sector of the real estate industry or one type of property asset class. Instead, they leverage the benefits of streamlined and diversified portfolios.

The portfolio for a hybrid REIT typically includes a mix of residential assets such as single-family homes and apartment buildings; commercial properties like retail centers; and specialty properties such as hotels, industrial warehouses, medical buildings or self-storage facilities. Depending on the structure of the company itself and its goals, hybrid REITs might also engage in more direct activities related to real estate investments such as development and construction financing.

Hybrid REITs are primarily organized to generate passive income by leasing their properties to tenants while they manage day-to-day operations. The income generated may assist with retirement goals such as creating additional monthly income streams or increasing capital gains over time through portfolio growth. Additionally, Hybrid REITs offer investors greater diversification since they cover many different location-specific markets throughout their portfolio holdings.

Benefits of Investing in REITs

Investing in REITs can be a great way to diversify your portfolio, as REITs offer investors access to real estate without the hassle of having to purchase and manage a physical property. They also provide investors with an income stream, as they usually pay out quarterly dividends, and they can provide capital appreciation over the long term. In addition, REITs offer the added benefit of liquidity due to the ease of buying and selling shares.

Let’s take a closer look at the various benefits of investing in REITs:

  • Diversification of portfolio.
  • Access to real estate without the hassle of managing physical property.
  • Income stream through quarterly dividends.
  • Capital appreciation over the long term.
  • Liquidity due to the ease of buying and selling shares.


Investing in a REIT can provide an investor with additional portfolio diversification. A wide variety of sectors and regions are available when considering REIT investment.

Professional Management

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) provide investors with an opportunity to invest in professionally managed real estate assets. Rather than having to manage property directly, investors can purchase shares in a REIT and benefit from the company’s expertise in property selection and management.

REITs are often managed by experienced analysts who specialize in assessing the value of properties, their potential for income generation, and any risks that may be associated with them. This means that a properly managed REIT, when bought at the right price, provides stability to investors who depend on its dividend income or capital appreciation when buying and selling units.

Many REITs also offer liquidity to investors by buying back units when needed and offering relatively low-cost stock exchange listings. This enables those with limited knowledge of the real estate market to access portfolio diversification without taking on significant risk. Investors can buy small amounts of stock at low cost, rather than spending a large lump sum on a property.


REITs provide investors with easy access to investing in real estate. With the option to buy and sell shares of REITs on a public stock exchange, these trusts are relatively easy to trade with liquidity similar to most stocks and bonds. This allows individual investors an opportunity to purchase a rental property in the form of publicly traded stocks rather than relying on traditional financing and investing significantly more capital than they otherwise may have had access to.

Additionally, REITs provide an excellent way for investors who do not have experience owning or managing real estate investments to take advantage of the returns associated with the sector. By investing in REITs, individuals can potentially benefit from appreciation resulting from increases in rent or future developments without needing direct involvement in any of the operations of those properties.

Risks of Investing in REITs

Investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs) can have its benefits, such as a steady income, the possibility of appreciation, and increased diversification. However, there are also risks associated with these investments. This section will discuss all the risks that come with REITs, from poor management to market downturns.

Interest Rate Risk

Interest rate risk is the risk that changes in interest rates will reduce the appeal of certain kinds of investments, including real estate investments. Interest rate fluctuations affect REITs because they are highly leveraged, meaning they borrow large amounts of money to acquire properties. As a result, REITs typically have high financial costs associated with their debt and must also issue a significant amount of equity (ownership shares) to raise the necessary capital for acquisition purposes.

When interest rates rise, so do loan payments on debt, and the capital required to raise new equity can increase significantly. As a result, REIT income and associated stock prices could be adversely affected by any sustained increase in interest rates.

Market Risk

Market Risk is the risk of an investment declining in value due to changes in the overall stock or real estate market. REITs include both common stocks and real estate and so they are not immune to Market Risk. REITs are dependent on their underlying properties, which generate income from rent payments, sales prices, and other sources. When the value of these properties declines, so can the value of REITs.

Additionally, interest rates, inflation, employment levels, political changes, or other market forces can also increase Market Risk for REITs. For these reasons, it is important for investors to pay close attention to the performance of the markets in general when considering investing in a REIT. Additionally, any investment decisions should always be made with a long-term outlook in mind as larger fluctuations are more likely over timeframes that encompass economic cycles.

Leverage Risk

REITs may use debt financing, such as mortgages, to purchase real estate and generate income. This practice of borrowing money to finance investments is known as leverage. Leverage can magnify investment returns when the underlying investment produces a return that is greater than the cost of borrowing; however, this benefit also comes with a risk when it produces a return that is less than the cost of borrowing.

If a REIT’s underlying properties produce insufficient returns or losses, the REIT may need to finance operations from cash flow from other underlying properties or draw upon external sources, such as additional debt or equity capital. Adverse conditions in credit markets have caused debt financing costs to rise for many REITs in recent years.

Financing costs also tend to rise during economic downturns since investors generally assign higher risk premiums and demand higher interest rates during periods of market volatility. As a result, leveraged REITs face increased financial risk if they cannot access capital markets at reasonable rates.

Leverage risk can also arise from loan requirements that place liquidity restrictions on properties owned by a REIT. Liquidity requirements may include prohibitions on repayment of debt before predetermined periods or covenants that limit additional indebtedness or limit distributions by the REIT if net operating income does not reach certain levels over a defined period of time.

Violation of loan covenants could trigger loan defaults, events which could have an adverse effect on already strained liquidity and further threaten solvency for leveraged REITS if market conditions continue to turn unfavorable.

How to Invest in REITs

REITs (which stands for Real Estate Investment Trusts) are a great opportunity for investors to diversify their portfolios and get exposure to the real estate industry without actually buying or managing physical property. Here are some tips on how to invest in REITs:

  1. Research Different Types of REITs – There are multiple types of REITs, each with different characteristics and levels of risk. You should research the different types available before investing your money.
  2. Analyze Long-Term Trends – Historical performance can be a good indicator as to how well a certain type of REIT will perform in the future. Make sure you analyze long-term trends before investing so that you have an idea of what kind of returns you can expect over time.
  3. Consider Your Risk Tolerance – As with any investment, there is always a risk involved when investing in REITs. Make sure you understand your own risk tolerance and make investment decisions accordingly.
  4. Evaluate Fees and Expenses – Fees and expenses associated with investing in REITs can add up quickly, so it’s important to evaluate them ahead of time so that you know what kind of costs are involved before making an investment.
  5. Diversify Your Investment Portfolio – One way to mitigate risk is by diversifying your portfolio across different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and REITs. This will help protect against losses if one type of asset class underperforms another.


Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are becoming increasingly popular as viable investment vehicle due to their high returns, diversification of assets, and inherent tax advantages. REITs offer exposure to various types of real estate such as common stocks, bonds, mortgages, and derivatives. Investors can buy shares of REITs directly on the open market or through mutual funds that own REITs. Unlike direct ownership of a single property or portfolio of properties, investors benefit from having diversified ownership across multiple properties held in the trust.

Investors must assess the risks associated with investing in real estate trusts before deciding to make an investment in order to ensure potential returns exceed costs. Risks include:

  • Fluctuating values due to changing economic conditions
  • Management fees that reduce total return potential
  • Leverage taken by trusts increases potential losses if the underlying property values or rents decrease abruptly or unexpectedly.

Overall, if properly monitored and actively managed real estate investment trusts can be an appropriate addition for investors looking for diversification outside of traditional investments and individual stock market investments. Investors should consult their financial advisor prior to making an allocation decision into one or more real estate trusts.

Kylie Mahar

Kylie Mahar is a financial guru who loves to help others save money. She writes for cycuro.com, 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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