Real estate investment trusts (REITs) have become increasingly popular among investors looking to diversify their portfolios and participate in the real estate market. REITs offer individuals the opportunity to invest in real estate without the hassle of property management or large capital requirements. They provide a way for both small and large investors to gain exposure to a wide range of real estate assets. However, not all REITs are created equal. There are several different types of REITs, each with its own unique characteristics and investment strategies. In this article, we will explore the various types of REITs and what sets them apart.

Equity REITs

Equity REITs are the most common type of REIT and are primarily focused on owning and managing income-generating properties. These properties can include apartment buildings, office buildings, retail centers, hotels, and industrial facilities. Equity REITs generate income through rental payments from tenants. They distribute a significant portion of their rental income as dividends to shareholders. These dividends are often the primary source of return for investors in equity REITs. Equity REITs provide investors with the opportunity to own a diversified portfolio of properties and benefit from potential appreciation in property values.

Mortgage REITs

Mortgage REITs, also known as mREITs, invest in real estate mortgages or mortgage-backed securities. Unlike equity REITs, mortgage REITs do not own physical properties. Instead, they make money by originating or purchasing mortgage loans and earning interest income from the borrowers. Mortgage REITs can invest in residential or commercial mortgages, and they may focus on a specific type of mortgage, such as residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) or commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). Mortgage REITs typically aim to generate income through the interest rate spread between the loans they hold and the cost of their financing.

Hybrid REITs

Hybrid REITs combine elements of both equity REITs and mortgage REITs. They invest in both physical properties and real estate loans. Hybrid REITs offer investors the potential for diversification by combining the income-generating potential of equity REITs with the interest income potential of mortgage REITs. The allocation between properties and loans can vary depending on the specific investment strategy of the hybrid REIT. Some may have a more balanced approach, while others may tilt towards one asset type more than the other.

Publicly Traded REITs

Publicly traded REITs are listed on major stock exchanges, and their shares can be bought and sold by individual investors on the open market. These REITs offer liquidity to investors, allowing them to easily enter or exit their positions. Publicly traded REITs provide transparency and are subject to regulatory requirements and reporting standards. Investors can analyze their financial statements, performance metrics, and market valuations before making investment decisions. These REITs are suitable for investors seeking liquidity, market pricing, and the ability to trade their shares on a daily basis.

Non-Traded REITs

Non-traded REITs are not traded on stock exchanges and, therefore, are less liquid compared to publicly traded REITs. They are typically sold through broker-dealers and have a limited redemption program. Non-traded REITs often have a longer investment horizon, and investors may be required to hold their shares for a specified period before they can sell them. These REITs often focus on specific real estate sectors or niche markets. They may offer higher dividend yields but come with higher fees and potential restrictions on liquidity.

Private REITs

Private REITs are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as publicly traded or non-traded REITs. Private REITs are typically available only to accredited investors and have more limited opportunities for liquidity. These REITs may have longer lock-up periods, and investors often need to meet certain income or net worth requirements to participate. Private REITs may provide access to specialized real estate investments that are not available through other REIT structures.

It’s important to note that each type of REIT has its own risk and return characteristics. Investors should carefully consider their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and liquidity preferences before investing in any type of REIT. Consulting with a financial advisor or real estate professional can help individuals make informed investment decisions based on their specific circumstances.


In conclusion, real estate investment trusts (REITs) offer investors a diverse range of options to participate in the real estate market. Equity REITs focus on owning and managing income-generating properties, while mortgage REITs invest in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Hybrid REITs combine elements of both equity and mortgage REITs. Publicly traded REITs provide liquidity and market pricing, while non-traded and private REITs offer access to niche markets and specialized real estate investments. Understanding the different types of REITs is essential for investors seeking to add real estate exposure to their investment portfolios.

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