Search form

(Updated March 2017)

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. (A. Siudzinski, Senior Library Information Specialist)

E - EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.

The Basics

REIT Property Acquisitions Fall Back to Earth, (Commercial Property Executive, Mar. 6, 2017). Most larger REITs specialize in major property types in core markets, such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Acquisition yields have hit record levels in most of those cities, and REIT managements are becoming more careful about taking on properties at what some feel might be the top of the cycle.

Are Online Shoppers Hurting REITS?, (REALTOR® Magazine, July 2016). The bifurcated effect on industrial and retail space is evident in REIT performance. Industrial REITs in the FTSE NAREIT US REIT index have returned a whopping 21.8 percent so far this year, compared to 9.9 percent for REITs overall. Meanwhile, mall REITs are lagging behind with a 6.9 percent return.

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.

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.

How to Invest in REITs, (National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, 2017). The requirement that REITs pay out at least 90 percent of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends makes them a strong income-generating investment. Additionally, as stocks, REITs also provide the opportunity for capital appreciation.

Most Investors Should Own a Lot More REITs, (The Street, Jan. 6, 2017). We are moving deeper into January, and it is the time of year when I start testing and tweaking all my various screens and models. One of my more interesting discoveries last year was that most investors should own a lot more REITs than has historically been the case. REITs have outperformed just about every other asset class out there, with the exception of small capitalization stocks.

REITS and Rates: The Investor Landscape, (REALTOR® Magazine, Dec. 2016). As with all investments, you should thoroughly research any REIT, mutual fund, or ETF before putting your hard-earned money into it.

How to Invest in Commercial Real Estate With REITs, (US News, Oct. 9, 2015).

Use REITs to Invest Like a Property Mogul, (WSJ, June 22, 2015). 

A Place for REITs, (Financial Planning, June 1, 2011). E

eBooks & Other Resources


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

Building Wealth Through REITS (Kindle, OverDrive Read, EPUB eBook)

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

Commercial Real Estate Investing (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Investing in REITs (Kindle, OverDrive Read, EPUB eBook, PDF eBook)

Real Estate Investing for Dummies® (Adobe eReader)

Real Estate Investment (Adobe eReader)

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

Urban Real Estate Investment: a New Era of Opportunity (Kindle Book, OverDrive Read, EPUB eBook, PDF eBook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. 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 Services 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

Information Services Blog

Have an Idea for a New​ Field Guide?

Click here to send us your suggestions.

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.