Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): Benefits, Drawbacks and Considerations

Home Real Estate Investments Real Estate Investments Guides Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): Benefits, Drawbacks and Considerations

Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)



Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have gained significant popularity as investment vehicles, offering individuals the opportunity to participate in the real estate market without the burdens of direct ownership and management. While REITs present several benefits, it is essential to be aware of the drawbacks and considerations associated with investing in them. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of REITs, exploring their definition, functionality, advantages, disadvantages, various types, investment options, and crucial factors to consider before venturing into the realm of REIT investments.

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What Are REITs and How Do They Work?

REITs are companies that own, operate, or finance income-generating real estate assets. One of the defining characteristics of REITs is that they are legally obligated to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. This makes REITs an appealing choice for investors seeking a steady stream of income.

To raise capital, REITs sell shares to investors, who become shareholders in the company. The funds generated from these share sales are then utilized to acquire and manage a diverse range of real estate properties, including office buildings, shopping malls, apartments, hotels, and even infrastructure projects such as toll roads and airports. The rental income generated by these properties is subsequently distributed to the shareholders as dividends, providing investors with a share of the profits generated by the real estate assets held by the REIT.

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Advantages of Investing in REITs

  1. Diversification of Investment Portfolio

Investing in REITs enables individuals to diversify their investment portfolios by gaining exposure to the real estate market. By including REITs in their investment strategy, individuals can potentially reduce risk and enhance the likelihood of achieving favorable returns. Diversification across different sectors and types of real estate properties can help mitigate the impact of market fluctuations and economic downturns.


  1. Access to Income-Producing Real Estate Assets

REITs present individuals with an enticing opportunity to invest in income-generating real estate assets, such as office buildings and shopping malls, which might otherwise be financially unattainable or impractical for individual investors to acquire independently. While not owning the asset, by investing in REITs, individuals can participate in the profits generated by these high-value assets, earning a regular income stream from the rental payments collected.


  1. Liquidity and Ease of Investing

One notable advantage of investing in REITs is the ease of buying and selling shares. Unlike physical properties, which can be time-consuming and costly to sell, REITs are publicly traded on stock exchanges. This feature grants investors liquidity and flexibility, allowing them to easily enter or exit their investment positions as market conditions and personal circumstances change.


  1. Professional Management

When investing in REITs, individuals benefit from professional management. REITs are managed by experienced real estate professionals who handle property acquisition, leasing, maintenance, and other operational aspects. This relieves individual investors of the responsibilities and complexities of managing properties themselves.


  1. Accessibility to Small Investors

REITs provide an opportunity for small investors to participate in the real estate market. By pooling funds together, REITs allow individuals with limited capital to gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of properties that would otherwise be financially out of reach.


  1. Passive Income

REITs are known for their ability to generate passive income through regular dividend distributions. For income-focused investors, this can be an attractive feature as it provides a steady stream of cash flow without the need for active involvement in property management.


  1. Portfolio Flexibility

Investing in REITs offers investors flexibility in managing their portfolios. Since REITs are traded on stock exchanges, investors can easily adjust their holdings based on their investment strategies and market conditions. This flexibility allows for efficient portfolio rebalancing and allocation of assets.


Disadvantages of Investing in REITs

  1. Market Risk and Volatility

REITs are not immune to market risks and can be influenced by economic conditions and fluctuations in the real estate market. Should property values decline or rental income decrease, the value of REIT shares can be adversely affected. If the market experiences a downturn or faces challenges, such as a decrease in property values or declining demand, it can have a negative impact on the performance of REITs and the dividends they distribute to shareholders. As with any investment, there is inherent risk, and investors should carefully evaluate the market conditions and the stability of the real estate market before making investment decisions.


  1. Tax Implications

Investing in REITs may have tax implications for shareholders. Shareholders are subject to taxation on the dividends they receive from the REIT. It is crucial to consult with a tax professional or advisor to gain a clear understanding of the specific tax implications associated with investing in REITs, as tax laws can vary across jurisdictions.


  1. Lack of Control

While REITs offer a convenient way to invest in real estate, investors relinquish direct control over property management decisions. The strategic direction, property selection, and day-to-day operations are determined by the REIT’s management team, which may not align perfectly with individual investor preferences.


  1. Interest Rate Sensitivity

REITs, particularly mortgage REITs, can be sensitive to changes in interest rates. Rising interest rates can increase borrowing costs and potentially impact the profitability of the REIT, while falling interest rates may reduce borrowing costs and positively impact the REIT’s performance. Investors need to consider the potential effects of interest rate fluctuations on their REIT investments.



Types of REITs

REITs can be categorized into three main types: Equity REITs, Mortgage REITs, and Hybrid REITs.


  1. Equity REITs

Equity REITs invest in and own income-generating properties. They generate revenue through rental payments received from tenants and the appreciation of the properties they own. Equity REITs typically focus on specific sectors, such as commercial properties (e.g., office buildings, shopping centers) or residential properties (e.g., apartments, single-family homes).


  1. Mortgage REITs

Mortgage REITs invest in and own mortgages and other real estate loans. They generate income through the interest payments received from borrowers. Mortgage REITs can choose to invest in residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, or a combination of both.


  1. Hybrid REITs

Hybrid REITs are a blend of equity REITs and mortgage REITs. These REITs invest in both income-generating properties and real estate loans. By diversifying their holdings, hybrid REITs offer investors a well-rounded portfolio that combines the potential for rental income and interest payments.


How to Invest in REITs

Investors have various avenues for investing in REITs, including publicly traded REITs, private REITs, and REIT mutual funds.


  1. Investing in Publicly Traded REITs

One common method is to invest in publicly traded REITs by purchasing shares on stock exchanges. Publicly traded REITs provide investors with the benefits of liquidity, transparency, and the ability to easily buy or sell shares through brokerage accounts. It is important to research and evaluate the performance, track record, and financial health of the REIT before making investment decisions.


  1. Investing in Private REITs

Private REITs, on the other hand, are not publicly traded on stock exchanges and are typically available only to accredited investors. Private REITs may offer the potential for higher returns but often come with limited liquidity, meaning it can be more challenging to sell shares. Due diligence and careful assessment of the private REIT’s investment strategy, management team, and historical performance are critical in evaluating the potential benefits and risks associated with these investments.


  1. Investing in REIT Mutual Funds

Investing in REIT mutual funds is another avenue for gaining exposure to a diversified portfolio of REITs. REIT mutual funds pool money from multiple investors and allocate it across a range of REITs. This approach provides instant diversification and the expertise of professional fund managers who oversee the investment decisions. Investors can invest in REIT mutual funds through brokerage accounts or retirement accounts like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or 401(k)s.


Considerations Before Investing in REITs

Before committing to investing in REITs, there are several crucial factors to consider:


  1. Evaluating the Management Team

Thoroughly assessing the management team responsible for overseeing the properties and operations of the REIT is essential. A competent and experienced management team can significantly contribute to the success of the REIT. Researching the track record, expertise, and reputation of the management team provides insights into their ability to navigate market challenges, make informed investment decisions, and effectively manage the real estate assets.


  1. Evaluating REIT’s historical performance

When investing in a mature REIT, it is easy to access the historical data on it’s market performance. Investors should be on the look out for well performing REITs that have a past history of generating strong profits and paying out healthy dividends.


  1. Assessing the Quality of Real Estate Properties

Investors should diligently evaluate the quality of the real estate properties held by the REIT. Factors to consider include the location of the properties, their condition and maintenance, occupancy rates, and the potential for future growth or appreciation. Conducting thorough due diligence on the properties helps investors gauge the income potential, stability, and long-term viability of the REIT’s real estate portfolio.


  1. Understanding the Risks Involved

Investing in REITs, like any investment, carries inherent risks. It is crucial for investors to have a clear understanding of these risks and how they align with their investment goals and risk tolerance. Some risks associated with REIT investments include market volatility, interest rate changes, potential downturns in the real estate market, and the specific risks associated with the property types in which the REIT invests. Consulting with a financial advisor or investment professional can provide valuable insights and guidance in assessing the risks involved.


Considerations Before Investing in REITs

In conclusion, REITs offer individuals a way to invest in the real estate market without the challenges of direct ownership. They provide diversification, access to income-producing assets, liquidity, and various investment options. However, investors should be mindful of market risks, tax implications, and the dependence of REITs on the real estate market. Thorough evaluation of the management team, assessment of real estate properties, and understanding the risks involved are crucial before investing in REITs. By considering these factors, investors can make informed decisions and potentially reap the benefits of REIT investments.

We hope you learned more about this popular investment strategy and will evaluate it as a part of a diversified real estate portfolio. And should you be looking to invest in your next real estate project you’ll also want to secure funding that is customized to your needs. Speak to us at REI News and we’ll work with you to identify the most suitable real estate financing opportunities and pair you with affordable lenders that meet your exact requirementts.



Q: Can I invest in REITs through my retirement account?

Yes, many retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, offer the option to invest in REITs. However, it is advisable to review the specific rules and regulations governing your retirement account to ensure REIT investments are permitted.


Q: Are REITs suitable for income-focused investors?

Yes, REITs are often attractive to income-focused investors due to their requirement to distribute a significant portion of their taxable income as dividends to shareholders. However, it is important to assess the specific REIT’s dividend history and sustainability before making investment decisions.


Q: What role does interest rate fluctuation play in REIT investments?

Interest rate changes can impact REITs, particularly mortgage REITs. Rising interest rates can increase borrowing costs for REITs and potentially affect their profitability. Conversely, falling interest rates can lead to lower borrowing costs and potentially benefit REITs.


Q: Are there any tax advantages to investing in REITs?

REITs themselves are not subject to corporate income taxes, provided they meet certain criteria. However, shareholders are generally subject to taxation on the dividends they receive from the REIT. Tax laws can vary, so it is essential to consult with a tax professional to understand the specific tax implications based on your jurisdiction and circumstances.