A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that finances or owns real estate as an investment for producing income. Previously, investing in large commercial properties was only for investment houses and wealthy investors, but this changed with the creation of REITs in 1960, by an act of Congress. Today, small investors are able to invest in commercial property and earn rental income. According to sites like Fundrise, you can acquire access to large real estate deals without a major dollar commitment.
Why a REIT
The idea of REITs was to provide a real estate investment arrangement that is analogous to the format that mutual funds provide for investing in stocks. They are governed by a number of regulations to maintain their tax exemptions, and most importantly, they are required by law to distribute at least 90 percent of their taxable income each year to shareholders. As mentioned in Fundrise reviews, individual investors can join others through a REIT and pool funds to invest in commercial property not otherwise possible for a small investor.
REITs offer a unique investment opportunity by reducing volatility and providing a natural hedge against inflation. REITs generally invest in most major property types including, shopping centers, malls, offices, apartments, hotels, self-storage facilities and healthcare properties. There are a number of benefits for investing in REITs.
Consistent and High YieldsFundrise Reviews
Understandably, the main draw for many investors has been the high dividend yield coupled with a remarkable consistency to pay and grow the dividend. REIT dividend yields have a history of being much higher than the average yield of the stock market, which means the average yield was about 4.3 percent in 2012. These dividends can make a big difference for long-term retirement savings, and they can also be reinvested to generate future returns. In later years, they can also provide a steady income stream to help meet expenses in retirement.
For most partnerships, the tax issues are complicated, but not so REITs. Every year, REITs send a Form 1099-DIV to their shareholders, which gives a breakdown of how the dividends were distributed. As REITs do not pay corporate-level taxes, the ordinary income portion of the dividend for investors is taxed at the individual rate. If the REIT should sell assets, a portion of the dividend would be taxed as capital gains.
Ease of Buying and Selling Shares
Buying and selling property directly, is a laborious process that requires a great deal of time and money, whereas, REIT shares are bought and sold just like ordinary stocks on the stock exchange.
Reliability and Diversity
If you are looking for diversity, reliability and low risk, REITs are the ideal choice. They have proved through past performance of not only maintaining dividends but also growing them. An important feature of a high-quality, low-risk investment is a continuous record of dividend payments going back over many years and REITs pass the test with flying colors.
A REIT must have most of its investments in real estate and must give 90 percent or more of its taxable income to its shareholders as dividends. Since 1995, REITs have outperformed stocks and bonds. If you are looking for a total-return investment with a focus on income then buying shares of a REIT may be your best option.