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Field Guide to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

(Updated March 2014)

Over the last 50 years, the U.S. real estate investment trust (REIT) industry has become an important segment of the U.S. economy and investment markets. REITs also make a good entry point for everyday consumers and small investors to break into real estate investing. This field guide gives some background on REITs and information on how to add them to your portfolio.

The Basics

What is a REIT?, (NAREIT, 2014). A great resource from the trade association representing the industry: What are REITs, their history, a glossary, getting started in investing, benefits, a directory, etc.

Landmark Buildings You Can Invest In, (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, June 2012). Slideshow of some famous properties owned by REITs.

REITs Go on a Spending Spree, (Real Estate Forum, May 2012). REITs are on the rise again. They’ve raised billions of capital in the past few years, and many are seeing strong returns

Powerhouse: The REIT Industry Celebrates 50 Years as a Revolutionary Force, (National Real Estate Investor, Oct. 18, 2010). In the past half century, REITs have transformed the commercial real estate industry.

Adding REITs to Your Investment Portfolio

As with all investments, putting your money in REITs has risk. Before investing, be sure to thoroughly review current market conditions, the fund’s prospectus, and consult investment professionals or other resources.

Real Estate’s Place in a Portfolio, (Barron’s, Mar. 18, 2014). With REITs besting stocks this year, it doesn’t take much to see their role in creating well-diversified returns.

3 Secrets to Investing in Real Estate, (USNews, Feb. 25, 2014). Real estate is a great way to diversify your portfolio.

Investing: REITs Rise From the Wreckage, (USA Today, Feb. 20, 2014). Although values have risen in the last year, REITs still represent decent value, and a good place to add money this year.

Practical Investing: Why You Need REITs, (Kiplinger, July 2012). Holding real estate trusts can add stability to your investments without reducing your returns.

Real Estate's Rehabilitation: The Time May Be Right to Persuade Clients to Get Into the Real Estate Market. What Are the Best Ways to Do It? (Financial Planning, May 2012). Q

Don’t Rush Into REITs, (CNN/Money, Feb. 1, 2012). Before you rush into this space, get to know the landscape and the funds that will help you avoid the quicksand.

A Place for REITs, (Financial Planning, June 1, 2011). Some financial planners take a strategic approach to REITs while others use them tactically, with some seeking the best of both worlds. Q

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Commercial Real Estate Investing for Dummies® (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Commercial Real Estate Investing (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Real Estate Investing for Dummies® (Adobe eReader)

Real Estate Investment (Adobe eReader)

Real Estate Investments and How to Make Them (Adobe eReader)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Central. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Central at 800.874.6500 for assistance.

Real estate investment trusts handbook, (Chicago, IL: West, Annual). HG 4530.4 F26

Investing in REITs (New York, NY: Bloomberg, 2002). HG 4530.4 B62i

REITs: building profits with real estate investment trusts, (New York, NY: Wiley, 1998). HG 4530.4 M91

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to 1031 Exchanges

Field Guide to Investing in Real Estate

Field Guide to Multi-Family Property

Field Guide to Office Property

Field Guide to Retail Property

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.