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Comparing Options: REITs vs. Traditional Real Estate Investment

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Hey y'all, if you're looking to invest in real estate, you need to know about two major players in the game - Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and traditional real estate. This article breaks down the differences between the two, and helps you decide which one is right for you. You'll learn about the pros and cons of each, including potential returns, risks, diversification, and control. Don't let the lingo scare you - this article is written in plain English so you can make informed decisions about your investments. Get ready to level up your financial game!

What is a REIT?

A REIT is a company that owns or operates income-generating real estate. By investing in a REIT, investors can gain exposure to the real estate market without having to purchase a physical property. A REIT can specialize in different types of real estate, such as commercial or residential, and may also invest in mortgages or other real estate-related assets.

Benefits of Investing in REITs

One of the main benefits of investing in REITs is the potential for high returns. REITs are required by law to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders, which can result in attractive dividend yields. Additionally, because REITs are publicly traded, they offer investors liquidity and the ability to easily buy and sell shares.

Another advantage of investing in REITs is the diversification it provides. By investing in a REIT, you can gain exposure to a variety of properties and geographies without having to manage properties yourself. This can help reduce risk and potentially increase returns.

Drawbacks of Investing in REITs

While investing in REITs has its benefits, it's important to consider the drawbacks as well. One disadvantage is that REITs are subject to market volatility, just like any other stock. This means that their share prices can fluctuate based on economic and industry conditions.

Additionally, while REITs offer the potential for high dividend yields, they are taxed at the individual shareholder level, which can result in higher tax liabilities. REITs may also charge management fees and other expenses that can eat into investment returns.

Traditional Real Estate Investment

Traditional real estate investment involves purchasing physical properties, such as rental homes or commercial buildings. Investors can choose to manage the properties themselves or hire a property management company to handle day-to-day operations. The income from the properties comes from rent paid by tenants.

Benefits of Traditional Real Estate Investment

One of the advantages of traditional real estate investment is the potential for higher returns. Unlike REITs, investors in physical properties can realize capital gains by selling the property at a profit. Additionally, rental income can provide a steady stream of cash flow.

Another benefit of traditional real estate investment is the control it provides. Investors have the ability to make decisions regarding the management and maintenance of the property, which can potentially increase its value and overall returns.

Drawbacks of Traditional Real Estate Investment

One of the main disadvantages of traditional real estate investment is the high capital requirements. Purchasing a physical property can require a significant amount of upfront cash, and ongoing expenses can also be high. Additionally, managing a property can be time-consuming and require specialized knowledge.

Another potential drawback is the lack of diversification. By investing in a single property or a small number of properties, investors are exposed to a higher level of risk if the property doesn't perform as expected.


In summary, both REITs and traditional real estate investment have their advantages and disadvantages. While REITs offer diversification and liquidity, traditional real estate investment can provide higher returns and more control. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your investment goals and risk tolerance. It's important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.


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