Established in the United States in 1960, REITs have since gained popularity worldwide due to their unique structure and benefits. REITs own, manage, and finance a diversified portfolio of properties, including commercial, residential, and industrial assets. They are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends, making them an attractive option for income-seeking investors. REITs are publicly traded on stock exchanges, providing liquidity and transparency to investors. As a result, they offer a convenient and accessible means for investors to gain exposure to the real estate market without the need for direct property ownership (Chan et al., 2005).


  • Chan, S. H., Leung, W. K., & Wang, K. (2005). The impact of institutional investors on the Monday seasonal. Journal of Business, 78(1), 63-95.

Types of REITs: Equity, Mortgage, and Hybrid

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are investment vehicles that allow investors to gain exposure to the real estate market through the purchase of shares in a diversified portfolio of properties. There are three primary types of REITs: Equity, Mortgage, and Hybrid. Equity REITs invest in and manage income-producing properties, such as office buildings, shopping centers, and apartment complexes. These REITs generate revenue primarily through rental income from their properties. Mortgage REITs, on the other hand, invest in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, earning income from the interest on these loans. Hybrid REITs combine the investment strategies of both equity and mortgage REITs, providing investors with a diversified exposure to both property ownership and mortgage lending. Each type of REIT offers distinct advantages and risks, making it essential for investors to carefully consider their investment objectives and risk tolerance before choosing a specific REIT category (Chen, 2021; Investopedia, n.d.).


Benefits of Investing in REITs

Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) offers several benefits to investors. Firstly, REITs provide a stable income stream through regular dividend payments, as they are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders annually (Nareit, n.d.). This makes them an attractive option for income-seeking investors. Secondly, REITs offer portfolio diversification, as they have a low correlation with other asset classes such as stocks and bonds (Chen, 2021). This can help reduce overall portfolio risk and enhance long-term returns. Thirdly, REITs provide exposure to the real estate market without the need for direct property ownership, thus eliminating the challenges associated with property management and maintenance (Investopedia, 2021). Additionally, REITs are highly liquid investments, as they are traded on major stock exchanges, allowing investors to easily buy and sell shares (Nareit, n.d.). Lastly, investing in REITs can offer potential capital appreciation, as the underlying properties may increase in value over time, leading to higher share prices (Chen, 2021).


Risks Associated with REIT Investments

Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) carries several risks that investors should be aware of before committing their capital. One significant risk is market volatility, as REITs are traded on stock exchanges and are subject to fluctuations in market prices. This can lead to short-term losses for investors, particularly during periods of economic downturn or uncertainty (Chen, 2021).

Another risk associated with REIT investments is interest rate risk. As interest rates rise, the cost of borrowing increases, which can negatively impact the profitability of REITs and their ability to make distributions to investors (Nareit, n.d.). Additionally, higher interest rates can lead to a decrease in property values, further affecting the performance of equity REITs (Chen, 2021).

Furthermore, REITs are exposed to various property-specific risks, such as tenant turnover, vacancies, and property management issues. These factors can directly impact the income generated by the properties and, consequently, the returns for investors (Nareit, n.d.). Lastly, changes in tax laws and regulations can also pose risks to REIT investors, as these may affect the tax treatment of REIT distributions and the overall attractiveness of REIT investments (Chen, 2021).


REIT Taxation and Legal Structure

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are unique investment vehicles with a distinct taxation and legal structure. REITs are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders annually, which allows them to avoid paying corporate income tax on distributed earnings. This pass-through taxation structure benefits investors, as they are only taxed at their individual income tax rates on the dividends received from the REIT (EY, 2021).

Legally, REITs are structured as corporations, trusts, or associations, and must adhere to specific regulatory requirements to maintain their status. These requirements include investing at least 75% of their total assets in real estate, deriving at least 75% of their gross income from rents, mortgage interest, or property sales, and having a minimum of 100 shareholders (US SEC, 2021). Additionally, REITs are subject to corporate governance standards, such as having a board of directors or trustees, and must comply with securities laws and regulations in the jurisdictions where they operate (Nareit, 2021).


  • EY (2021) Global REIT Guide. Available at: (Accessed: 10 October 2021).
  • US SEC (2021) Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Available at: (Accessed: 10 October 2021).
  • Nareit (2021) What is a REIT? Available at: (Accessed: 10 October 2021).

Performance Metrics and Analysis for REITs

Evaluating the performance of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) involves various metrics and analysis methods. One key metric is Funds from Operations (FFO), which adjusts net income by excluding gains or losses from property sales and adding back depreciation and amortization expenses related to real estate assets. FFO provides a more accurate representation of a REIT’s operating performance and cash flow generation (Hoesli and Oikarinen, 2012). Another important metric is the Net Asset Value (NAV), which estimates the underlying value of a REIT’s real estate portfolio by subtracting its liabilities from the market value of its assets (Morri and Mazza, 2016).

In addition to these financial metrics, investors often assess REITs based on their dividend yield, which measures the annual dividend income relative to the share price. A higher dividend yield may indicate a more attractive investment opportunity. Furthermore, investors may analyze a REIT’s portfolio by examining factors such as property type, geographic diversification, tenant quality, and occupancy rates to gauge the potential risks and returns associated with the investment (Lee, 2010). By considering these performance metrics and analysis methods, investors can make informed decisions when evaluating REITs.


  • Hoesli, M., & Oikarinen, E. (2012). Are REITs real estate? Evidence from international sector level data. Journal of International Money and Finance, 31(7), 1823-1850.
  • Lee, S. (2010). Performance persistence for REITs around the world. Journal of Property Investment & Finance, 28(4), 252-267.
  • Morri, G., & Mazza, A. (2016). The performance of US and European Real Estate Investment Trusts: A comparative analysis. Journal of European Real Estate Research, 9(1), 58-74.

Global REIT Market Overview

The global Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) market has experienced significant growth in recent years, with a total market capitalization surpassing $1.7 trillion in 2020 (1). This growth can be attributed to the increasing demand for investment diversification, attractive dividend yields, and the expansion of REIT markets in emerging economies. REITs are classified into three main types: equity, mortgage, and hybrid, each offering unique investment opportunities and risk profiles. The United States remains the largest REIT market, accounting for approximately 60% of the global market capitalization (2). However, other regions such as Europe and Asia-Pacific have also witnessed substantial growth, with countries like Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom emerging as key players in the REIT landscape. Despite the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global REIT market has demonstrated resilience, particularly in sectors such as industrial, data centers, and logistics, which have benefited from the accelerated shift towards e-commerce and digitalization (3). Moving forward, the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the REIT industry.


  • (1) World Bank. (2021). Global Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Market Capitalization.
  • (2) Nareit. (2021). Global REIT Market Capitalization.

Investing in REITs: Direct and Indirect Methods

Investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) can be done through direct and indirect methods. Direct investment involves purchasing shares of a publicly traded REIT on a stock exchange, allowing investors to gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of real estate assets without the need to manage the properties themselves. This method provides investors with liquidity, as shares can be bought and sold on the open market, and offers the potential for capital appreciation and dividend income (Cheng, 2017).

Indirect investment in REITs can be achieved through various channels, such as mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and private REITs. Mutual funds and ETFs focused on REITs offer investors a diversified portfolio of REIT stocks, managed by professional fund managers, and can be traded on stock exchanges like individual REIT shares (Hoesli & Oikarinen, 2012). Private REITs, on the other hand, are not publicly traded and are typically available to accredited investors only. These investments may offer higher returns but come with increased risks and lower liquidity compared to publicly traded REITs (Cheng, 2017).


  • Cheng, P., Lin, Z., & Liu, Y. (2017). An examination of the long-term performance of REIT mergers. Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 54(1), 1-32.
  • Hoesli, M., & Oikarinen, E. (2012). Are REITs real estate? Evidence from international sector level data. Journal of International Money and Finance, 31(7), 1823-1850.

Role of REITs in Portfolio Diversification

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) play a significant role in portfolio diversification by providing investors with exposure to the real estate sector, which has historically demonstrated low correlation with other asset classes such as stocks and bonds. This low correlation can help reduce overall portfolio risk and enhance long-term returns. Additionally, REITs offer a unique combination of income generation and capital appreciation potential, as they are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends, while also benefiting from the potential appreciation of underlying real estate assets. Furthermore, investing in REITs allows investors to gain access to a wide range of property types and geographical locations, further enhancing diversification benefits. Lastly, REITs are highly liquid investments, as they are traded on major stock exchanges, enabling investors to easily adjust their real estate exposure in response to changing market conditions (Chan, Erickson, and Wang 2003; Hoesli and Oikarinen 2012).


  • Chan, K. C., Erickson, J., & Wang, K. (2003). Real Estate Investment Trusts: Structure, Performance, and Investment Opportunities. Oxford University Press.
  • Hoesli, M., & Oikarinen, E. (2012). Are REITs Real Estate? Evidence from International Sector Level Data. Journal of International Money and Finance, 31(7), 1823-1850.

Environmental, Social, and Governance

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors have become increasingly significant in the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry, as investors and stakeholders demand greater transparency and accountability. ESG factors influence the long-term performance and sustainability of REITs, as they address critical issues such as energy efficiency, carbon emissions, water management, and waste reduction in property development and management. Furthermore, social factors, including tenant well-being, community engagement, and fair labor practices, contribute to the overall reputation and attractiveness of REITs to investors. Lastly, governance factors, such as board diversity, executive compensation, and shareholder rights, play a crucial role in ensuring ethical and responsible decision-making within REITs. As a result, REITs that effectively integrate ESG factors into their business strategies and operations are likely to experience enhanced financial performance, reduced risk exposure, and increased investor interest, ultimately contributing to the long-term success and resilience of the industry (Sullivan & Worcester, 2018; MSCI, 2020).

Major REIT Players and Market Trends

Major players in the global Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) market include Simon Property Group, Prologis, Public Storage, Welltower, and Equity Residential, among others. These companies have established a strong presence in the industry, managing diverse portfolios of properties across various sectors such as retail, industrial, residential, and healthcare (CBRE, 2021).

Current market trends indicate a growing interest in industrial and logistics REITs, driven by the rapid expansion of e-commerce and the need for efficient supply chain management (PwC, 2021). Additionally, there is a rising focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors, with investors increasingly considering sustainability and social responsibility in their investment decisions (GRESB, 2020). Furthermore, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in the real estate sector, leading to the emergence of PropTech-focused REITs that invest in technology-driven solutions for property management and development (Deloitte, 2021).


Future Outlook and Challenges for the REIT Industry

The future outlook for the REIT industry appears promising, with a growing emphasis on sustainability and the incorporation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. As urbanization continues to increase, the demand for sustainable and wellness-focused properties is expected to rise, providing opportunities for REITs to expand their portfolios and cater to the evolving needs of knowledge-based organizations. However, the industry also faces several challenges, including the potential impact of economic downturns, interest rate fluctuations, and regulatory changes. Additionally, the ongoing digital transformation and the rise of remote work may alter the demand for commercial real estate, requiring REITs to adapt their strategies and offerings accordingly. Furthermore, the increasing importance of ESG factors may necessitate greater transparency and reporting from REITs, as investors seek to align their portfolios with their values and long-term objectives (CBRE, 2021; PwC, 2020).

Category: Real Estate