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What are REITs? In their most basic form, they are companies that own property on behalf of shareholders/investors. Strangely enough, REITs were born out of an excise tax on cigars in 1960. President Eisenhower signed off some additions to a federal law, which paved the way for the creation of the industry that now manages real estate investments. REITs are attractive to investors because they offer a diversified approach to property ownership, without the REIT shareholder actually owning a specific property themselves. However, REITs are quite different from other investments in that they are subject to some strict rules. REITs try to simplify that. By bundling properties together and packaging them into a single investment, REITs allow investors access to the real estate market that can be more complicated to take on alone. There are unique tax-related issues and liquidity elements that make REITs different than buying an individual house or building, but their purpose is to simplify that type of investment.

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Unlike traditional property, some REITs can be bought and sold within an afternoon on the stock market and the cash available in three days. When we refer to flexibility, we really mean liquidity.

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REITs can offer true property diversification. A shareholder can get access to different types of property, including commercial, medical, and infrastructure. These would have been inaccessible to most direct property investors due to the very nature and size of investment required.

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Limited Tax Benefits

Income that is paid out to investors via a dividend is taxed at as income. For most, long-term capital gains are taxed at a rate lower than income.



A real estate investment trust (REIT) combines the money of many investors to buy and operate real estate property. A REIT works something like a mutual fund. It allows small investors to own a share of the income produced by real estate properties, such as shopping centers or warehouses. You can invest in specialized REITs, such as retail REITs, residential REITs, and industrial REITs. REITs are very liquid assets, as you can buy and sell them on major exchanges, just like stocks. A REIT, by law, must pay at least 90% of its profits as dividends to investors. All investments carry risks.

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