Real Estate

Understanding the Types of Real Estate Investment Trusts

Real Estate Investment Trusts, commonly known as REITs, are investment vehicles that own and operate income-generating real estate assets. They were created in 1960 by the US Congress to give investors the opportunity to invest in real estate without having to purchase and manage physical properties themselves. Essentially, REITs are similar to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in that they pool the capital of multiple investors to purchase and operate properties. REITs also provide investors with a liquid and tax-efficient way to invest in real estate. This section will provide an introduction to REITs, including their structure, benefits, and key characteristics.

Equity REITs: Investing in Physical Properties

Equity Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are companies that own, operate, or finance income-generating real estate properties. Equity REITs invest primarily in physical real estate properties, such as commercial buildings, apartments, and retail spaces. They generate revenue from rental income and capital appreciation of their property portfolio. Equity REITs are the most common type of REITs, and they allow investors to invest in real estate without directly owning the properties. By investing in equity REITs, investors can gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of properties in different locations and asset classes, which can potentially generate steady income and long-term capital gains. The performance of equity REITs is largely dependent on the real estate market conditions and the quality of the underlying properties in their portfolio. As such, it is crucial for investors to carefully evaluate the track record and management of the equity REIT before investing.


Mortgage REITs: Investing in Mortgages and Loans

Mortgage Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) invest in real estate debt rather than physical properties. They generate revenue by investing in and owning mortgages and other types of real estate loans. Mortgage REITs can provide a steady stream of income to investors through the interest payments on the underlying mortgages and loans. These REITs may also invest in mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which are debt securities that are backed by the underlying mortgages. Mortgage REITs differ from equity REITs in that they do not own physical properties, but instead make money through the interest on loans. Because of this, they are more sensitive to interest rate changes than equity REITs, and their stock prices may fluctuate more in response to changes in interest rates.

Hybrid REITs: A Combination of Equity and Mortgage REITs

Hybrid REITs, also known as diversified REITs, are a combination of equity and mortgage REITs. These REITs invest in both physical properties and mortgages. This approach offers the benefits of both types of REITs, providing investors with a diversified portfolio of both physical assets and financial assets.

Hybrid REITs may invest in a wide range of property types, including commercial and residential real estate, as well as mortgages. By investing in both physical properties and mortgages, hybrid REITs can help to mitigate risks associated with a specific type of investment. For example, if the real estate market experiences a downturn, hybrid REITs may still generate income from their mortgage investments.

Hybrid REITs may also have a more stable dividend yield compared to equity REITs, which can be impacted by fluctuations in property values and rental income. However, their dividend yields may be lower than equity REITs due to the lower risk profile.

Publicly Traded vs. Non-Traded REITs: Understanding the Differences

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) can be publicly traded or non-traded. Publicly traded REITs are listed on major stock exchanges and can be bought and sold like any other publicly traded stock. They offer investors liquidity and transparency, but also expose them to the volatility of the stock market. Non-traded REITs are not listed on major exchanges, and shares are typically sold through brokers or financial advisors. These types of REITs often have higher fees and less transparency, but may offer the potential for higher yields and lower volatility. It’s important for investors to carefully evaluate the differences between publicly traded and non-traded REITs before investing.

Pros and Cons of Investing in REITs

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) have become increasingly popular among investors who want to add real estate exposure to their portfolios. However, like any investment, there are both pros and cons to investing in REITs. Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages to consider before investing in REITs.


  1. Diversification: REITs offer investors the ability to diversify their portfolios with exposure to a variety of real estate assets such as commercial, residential, and industrial properties.
  2. Passive income: REITs are required by law to pay out at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends, which can provide investors with a steady stream of passive income.
  3. Liquidity: Unlike physical real estate investments, REITs can be easily bought and sold on major stock exchanges, providing investors with liquidity and flexibility.
  4. Professional management: REITs are managed by professional real estate managers, who have the expertise to maximize the performance of the underlying assets.


  1. Market volatility: Like any stock, REITs are subject to market volatility, which can result in fluctuations in the value of the investment.
  2. Interest rate sensitivity: Because REITs use debt to finance their operations, they are sensitive to changes in interest rates. Rising interest rates can negatively impact the value of REITs.
  3. Fees: REITs can come with management fees, which can eat into the returns generated by the investment.
  4. Limited control: Unlike physical real estate investments, investors in REITs have limited control over the underlying assets, leaving the management decisions to the REIT management team.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations for Investing in REITs

When it comes to investing in real estate investment trust, it’s important to consider the legal and regulatory framework that governs these types of investments. REITs are subject to a range of regulations, including those related to securities, tax, and real estate laws. For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that REITs register with the agency and provide regular financial disclosures to investors. Additionally, REITs must comply with tax rules that dictate the percentage of their income that must be distributed to shareholders as dividends. Investors should also be aware of any state and local regulations that may impact the specific REITs they are considering. By understanding these legal and regulatory considerations, investors can make informed decisions about whether to invest in REITs and which ones to choose.

Evaluating REIT Performance: Metrics to Consider

When evaluating REIT performance, there are several metrics that investors should consider. One important metric is funds from operations (FFO), which measures a REIT’s cash flow from its operations. FFO is considered a more accurate representation of a REIT’s financial health than net income, as it takes into account non-cash expenses such as depreciation and amortization. Another important metric is occupancy rate, which measures the percentage of leased space in a REIT’s properties. A high occupancy rate is generally a positive sign, as it indicates strong demand for the REIT’s properties. Other metrics to consider include the REIT’s dividend yield, debt-to-equity ratio, and price-to-FFO ratio. It’s important for investors to carefully evaluate these metrics and conduct thorough research before making any investment decisions.

Diversifying Your Portfolio with REITs

REITs can be a valuable addition to an investment portfolio due to their potential for diversification. By investing in different types of REITs, such as equity, mortgage, and hybrid REITs, investors can diversify their portfolio across different sectors and geographic regions. Additionally, investing in REITs can provide exposure to real estate assets that may be difficult to access through direct investment, such as large-scale commercial properties. However, it is important to keep in mind that REITs are subject to market volatility and fluctuations in real estate prices, which can impact their performance. Therefore, it is important to carefully evaluate and monitor the performance of REITs and their underlying assets to ensure they align with your investment objectives and risk tolerance.


Understanding the types of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) is crucial for anyone looking to invest in real estate. Equity REITs invest in physical properties, while Mortgage REITs invest in mortgages and loans, and Hybrid REITs combine both. Publicly traded REITs are listed on stock exchanges and are highly liquid, while non-traded REITs are not publicly traded and have lower liquidity. Each type of REIT has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s essential to evaluate their performance and metrics before investing. Diversifying your portfolio with REITs can help minimize risk and provide potential long-term growth. However, investors should also consider legal and regulatory considerations before investing in REITs. Overall, understanding the different types of REITs and their unique characteristics is crucial for making informed investment decisions in real estate.

About Author

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button