Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Explained: Types, Benefits, and Risks

Real estate has always been considered a solid investment choice. However, buying a physical property can be daunting and expensive for most people. Luckily, an alternative exists, and they’re called Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). REITs allow you to invest in real estate without owning any property yourself.

A REIT is a company that owns and manages a portfolio of income-generating real estate assets. Investors can purchase shares in the REIT, which entitles them to a portion of the income generated by the properties in the portfolio. REITs are required by law to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to their shareholders in the form of dividends.

This makes them an attractive investment option for income-seeking investors. This article will explain what REITs are, how they work, and the different types of REITs available.

What are Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)?

Congress created REITs in 1960 to allow individual investors to invest in large-scale, income-producing real estate. Today, REITs are publicly traded companies that own and operate a variety of real estate assets, including office buildings, apartments, retail spaces, hotels, and even data centers.

REITs are divided into two main categories: equity REITs and mortgage REITs. Equity REITs own and manage income-generating properties and generate income from rents and property appreciation. Mortgage REITs invest in mortgages and other real estate debt instruments and generate income from the interest on these loans.

How do REITs work?

REITs work like any other publicly traded company. They issue shares of stock, which investors can purchase through a brokerage account. Once you own shares in a REIT, you’re entitled to a portion of the income the properties generate in the REIT’s portfolio. This income is typically paid out as dividends, which are distributed to shareholders regularly.

REITs are required by law to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to their shareholders in the form of dividends. This means that REITs can be an attractive investment option for income-seeking investors. Additionally, because REITs are publicly traded, they offer investors the opportunity to invest in real estate with liquidity, transparency, and diversification.

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Types of REITs

Regarding Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), there are several types to consider. These investment vehicles are designed to allow individuals to invest in real estate without having to purchase and manage physical properties themselves. Some types of REITs include those that focus on residential properties, commercial properties, healthcare facilities, and even data centers. 

Additionally, some REITs invest in mortgage-backed securities and those that focus on specific geographic regions. With many options available, investors can choose a REIT that aligns with their investment goals and risk tolerance. Below are the types of REITs including:

Equity REITs

Equity Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are financial entities that specialize in owning and managing income-producing real estate properties. These properties can include various commercial and residential real estate types, such as office buildings, apartment complexes, shopping centers, and other similar structures. The primary objective of Equity REITs is to generate returns for their investors by collecting rent from the properties they own and operate.

Equity REITs operate under a unique structure that allows them to own and manage real estate properties on behalf of their investors. They are required by law to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to their investors in the form of dividends, making them a popular investment option for those seeking regular income streams. These REITs are also known for their long-term investment horizons, making them suitable for investors looking for stable and predictable returns over an extended period.

The primary advantage of investing in Equity REITs is that investors can gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of real estate properties without the burden of direct property ownership. Equity REITs employ experienced professionals who deeply understand the real estate market and can manage properties efficiently to maximize returns. Equity REITs also allow investors to benefit from potential appreciation in property values, providing the potential for capital appreciation in addition to regular income streams.

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Mortgage REITs

Mortgage Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are specialized companies that invest primarily in real estate debt, including mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. As a type of real estate investment, these trusts generate revenue by earning interest on the money they invest. In simpler terms, they use their capital to purchase mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, which pay out regular interest payments over time. These payments then become the primary source of income for the Mortgage REIT, allowing it to generate returns for its investors.

Mortgage REITs can particularly appeal to investors seeking steady income streams, as they often pay out high dividends to shareholders. However, they are also subject to risks associated with changes in interest rates, credit quality, and the performance of the underlying real estate assets. As such, it is important for investors to carefully evaluate these risks before investing in a Mortgage REIT. Nonetheless, for those willing to accept the risks and potential rewards, Mortgage REITs can be a valuable addition to a diversified investment portfolio.

Hybrid REITs

Hybrid REITs, or Real Estate Investment Trusts, are an investment vehicle that combines the benefits of investing in real estate properties and real estate debt. Unlike traditional REITs that only invest in physical properties, hybrid REITs also invest in real estate debt, such as mortgages and loans.

By diversifying their investments between both real estate assets, hybrid REITs can generate revenue from rent and interest income. This means that they are not solely reliant on rental income from physical properties but can also benefit from the interest paid on their debt.

Additionally, hybrid REITs can provide investors with increased liquidity compared to traditional real estate investments. This is because they are publicly traded on stock exchanges, allowing investors to buy and sell shares easily.

Investing in hybrid REITs can also offer potential tax benefits, as they must distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends, which are typically taxed at a lower rate than other forms of income.

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Benefits of Investing in REITs


Diversification is a crucial strategy for investors seeking to manage risk and maximize returns. Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) is an effective way to achieve diversification. REITs allow investors to diversify their portfolios by investing in a wide range of real estate assets, such as commercial properties, residential properties, hotels, healthcare facilities, and more. 

By spreading their investments across different types of properties and geographical regions, investors can reduce their exposure to market volatility and potentially increase their returns. In essence, REITs enable investors to tap into the many opportunities the real estate market offers without having to worry about the operational and management aspects of individual properties.


Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are investment vehicles that own and operate income-generating properties such as apartments, hotels, shopping centers, and office buildings. One of the unique features of REITs is that they are required by law to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to their shareholders annually in the form of dividends.

This characteristic makes REITs an attractive option for investors seeking a steady income stream, as they provide a consistent and reliable source of cash flow. Additionally, because REITs typically invest in a diversified portfolio of real estate properties, they can offer investors exposure to different real estate sectors and markets.

REIT investments can also provide other benefits, such as potential tax advantages, liquidity, and portfolio diversification. Moreover, some REITs may offer dividend reinvestment programs, which allow investors to automatically reinvest their dividends and acquire additional shares without incurring transaction fees.


One factor to consider when investing in real estate is liquidity or the ease with which an asset can be bought or sold. While physical real estate properties can provide long-term appreciation and income, they can also be illiquid assets that are difficult to sell quickly, especially during a market downturn or in a less desirable location.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) offer investors a way to gain exposure to the real estate market while providing greater liquidity. REITs are publicly traded companies that own, operate, or finance income-producing properties, and they can be bought and sold on major stock exchanges just like regular stocks.

This means that investors can easily buy or sell REIT shares without the need for time-consuming and costly transactions like property inspections, appraisals, or negotiations with potential buyers or sellers. Additionally, because REITs typically invest in a diversified portfolio of properties, they may provide investors with greater flexibility to adjust their investment portfolios to changing market conditions or personal financial needs.

Professional Management

When you choose to invest in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), you entrust your investment to a team of knowledgeable and experienced professional real estate managers. These experts are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and management of the underlying properties in the REIT portfolio, which can include everything from residential buildings commercial office spaces, retail centers, hotels, and more.

By relying on the expertise of these professionals, you can rest assured that your investment is in capable hands, with seasoned experts who have a deep understanding of the real estate industry, market trends, and the best strategies for optimizing property performance. This means that you can enjoy the benefits of real estate investment without needing hands-on management, saving you time, effort, and resources that you can redirect toward other important priorities.

Professional management is one of the key advantages of investing in a REIT, providing you with the peace of mind and confidence that comes from knowing that your investment is being professionally managed by a team of experts dedicated to maximizing returns and achieving long-term growth.

Risks of Investing in REITs

Interest Rate Risk

REITs are sensitive to changes in interest rates. When interest rates rise, the cost of borrowing increases, which can lower the value of real estate assets and reduce the income generated by REITs.

Market Risk

The value of REITs can fluctuate based on supply and demand in the market. If there are more sellers than buyers, the value of REITs can decrease.

Tenant Risk

REITs are reliant on the ability of their tenants to pay rent. If a tenant defaults on their rent, it can have a negative impact on the income generated by the REIT.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Explained Conclusion

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) allow investors to invest in real estate without the hassle of owning and managing physical properties. They can provide investors with diversification, income, liquidity, and professional management. However, like any investment, there are risks involved, such as interest rate, market, and tenant risk. Investors need to research and consider these risks before investing in REITs. Overall, if chosen wisely, REITs can be a valuable addition to an investor’s portfolio.