Best REITs to Invest in – 2021 | Real Estate | Learnbonds

Looking to invest in real estate investment trusts in 2021? Read on to discover everything you need to know about making the most of REITS.
Author: Edith Muthoni

Last Updated: January 5, 2021
REITS - Real Estate Investment Trusts
REITS - Real Estate Investment Trusts

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have positioned themselves as the perfect investment for individuals interested in both the stock and property markets.

This is made possible by the fact that a REIT company undertakes investments in the real estate industry and sells these REITS through the stock markets.

Best REITs to Invest...

Your investment effectively gives you a shareholder status in the underlying real estate properties owned and managed by your preferred REIT company. Consistent positive REITs performance push up the value of the REIT in the stock market, and you can sell them online, effectively earning both property and stock market incomes.

REITs are also perfect for individuals who don’t have enough time or capital resources to build rental properties from the ground up. REIT companies pool together resources from different people and use them to construct or fund the acquisition of real estate properties in the fast-moving commercial, residential, and student accommodation markets.

This sets them apart from most other real estate oriented stock investments as it comes with the guarantee of regular – mostly monthly or quarterly dividend distributions of the rental incomes.

In this guide, we look at why you should consider investing in REITs and some of the Best REITs you should consider in [current_date format=’Y’]. But first, let’s understand the two primary types of REITs:

On this Page:

Contents [show]
    Note: REITs offer you the best of both worlds. The fact that they are built around the real estate industry and even have the backing of physical properties or mortgages plus the fact that they can be traded in the stock exchanges ensures that you receive regular dividend distributions from rental incomes or mortgage interests and also gain from increments in the price of the REIT in the stock markets.

    Types of REITS:

    There are two primary types of REITs, the Equity and Mortgage REITS, and they differ not as much in form but their mode of operation. They both fit the qualification of a REIT that states that they must be 100% owned by shareholders, they must be managed by a board of directors, and that they must distribute at least 90% of their annual incomes to their clients. This, however, is their difference in the mode of operation.

    Equity REITSMortgage REITS

    Best REITs to Invest...Equity REITS refer to real estate trust funds that invest and own properties either in the commercial or residential markets. These will also refer to companies that invest in other properties and have their primary incomes stemming from rented property.

    Best REITs to Invest...Mortgage REITS refer to real estate trust funds that own and invest in mortgages and mortgage companies. These serve as investment capital lenders to other companies and individuals that are looking to fund or expand their real estate projects. Their primary source of income is in this case mortgage interests from company-owned and outsourced mortgages.

    Why should you consider investing in REITS?

    I. Guaranteed incomes

    Real Estate Investment Trusts are supposed to distribute 90% of their taxable income to their shareholders. These earnings are relatively stable and are paid on a monthly or quarterly basis without fail. The same cannot be said of shares and stock investments whose earnings are not guaranteed and fluctuate frequently.

    II. Immediate profits

    Building a rental property takes time. So does marketing it and achieving full occupancy. You, therefore, have to wait for the completion of the building and occupancy to start receiving yields on your investments. REITS, on the other hand, guarantee immediate returns, as soon as one month, after making your deposit.

    III. Less  stressful compared to building rental income

    When investing in the real estate investment trusts, you won’t have to deal with all the bureaucracies, approval processes, and taxes associated with setting up a physical property.

    IV. Diversified and passive income source

    The guaranteed regular returns on investments have positioned real estate investment trusts as the best for investors looking to diversify their incomes. The fact that they are expertly managed makes them the most suitable investment opportunity for investors looking for sources of passive income.

    V. Highly transparent operations

    REITS are 100% owned by shareholders who have the right of access to the company’s financial records and transactions. This effectively makes it one of the most transparent investment vehicles. The same cannot be said of most stock market investments.

    What are the pros and cons of investing in REITS?


    • Exposes you to the gains in both the real estate and stock markets
    • Offers guaranteed monthly incomes
    • Your REITS investments are backed by actual property investment thereby offering a security guarantee
    • Helps you create a wholly passive income stream
    • Relatively easy acquisition and management
    • Managed by both real estate and stock market experts thus increasing chances of higher incomes


    • While the incomes may be guaranteed, they aren’t as attractive as pure stock or rental property investments
    • Highly illiquid investments especially if they have a lockup period
    • Limited future growth as they are required to pay at least 90% of their revenues
    • Dividends from REITs are taxed as ordinary income

    How to invest in REITS:

    Best REITs to Invest...

    Step 1: Decide on the type of real estate investment trusts you want to invest in. For instance, do you wish to invest in real estate companies that specialize in equity, mortgage, technology or telecommunication products?

    Step 2: Check whether the REIT is privately sold by the real estate company or issued publicly through the stock exchange

    Step 3:  Buy into the REIT by making your initial deposit.

    Step 4: Invest as much as you can – or as much as the law allows – and wait for your monthly/quarterly profit distribution

    Note: Different companies have different investor qualification requirements. Check the requirements listed by your preferred REIT company while paying key attention to such factors as the one-time membership fee, annual management fee, accredited/unaccredited investor acceptance, and the minimum initial deposit required.

    Criteria used to ran the best REITS for [current_date format=’Y’]:

    • Assets under management
    • Annualized gains
    • The initial investment amount required
    • REIT management
    • Management fees and charges
    • Expertise and experience of trust mangers
    • Markets invested in – domestic or international
    • Number of years in operation

    Best REITS to invest in [current_date format=’Y’]:

    1. StREITwise - 10% ROI

    StREITwise is an Equity REIT with a rich history of owning and managing numerous cash-flowing real estate projects since its establishment. The company real estate investor has during this time maintained an average 10% annual dividend payouts making it one of the most profitable REITs available today. StREITwise is open to both the accredited and unaccredited domestic and foreign investors.

    And to invest here, you only need a minimum initial deposit of $1,000 with no upper limit to how much you can invest. Nonetheless, your investment here must be less than your 10% of your net worth – excluding your home value – and less than 10% your annual incomes in view of its relatively illiquid nature.

    The company maintains one of the most transparent fee structures that features an upfront 3% charge for new investors seeking to join the group and a further 2% management fee charged against your assets under management.

    Our Rating

    • Expertly managed by the real estate and stock market experts
    • Highly transparent fee structure with no hidden charges
    • One of the most attractive annualized returns on investments
    • One may consider their 3% fee charged for new investors prohibitive
    • Minimal diversification exposing it to the huge real estate market volatilities

    2. iShares Mortgage REIT - 0.48% fee p.a. and $1.3 Billion AUM

    iShares Mortgage REIT by BlackRock is by far one of the most successful mortgage companies currently available. It also is by far the most diversified mortgage REIT we have come across as it invests in both the residential and commercial markets.

    Plus apart from owning and investing in direct real estate projects, the company also invests heavily in publicly- and privately-traded real estate stocks. Started in 2007, the REIT has over the years brought investments from different quotas to create a large pool of over $1.3 billion.

    A significant percentage of these funds are invested in the mortgage REITs with the rest spread between industrial, specialized, and cash/derivatives.

    Our Rating

    • Highly diversified to minimize risks
    • Relatively low management fees and charges
    • Has the backing of one of the most established investment companies - BlackRock
    • Lack of physical properties exposes the company to huge real estate market volatilities

    3. Well Tower REIT - 14.9% ROI and $25 Billion AUM

    WellTower Real estate investment trust was established in 2004 and its annualized returns on investments during this time have averaged 14.9% annually ever since.

    Today, the company boasts of a market valuation of $25 Billion and specializes in owning and managing different healthcare properties across North America and the United Kingdom. The company owns over 1,500 healthcare facilities in these regions with a keen interest in senior living. It recently partnered with Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund in a bid to fund more projects as they expect the number of seniors in most developed countries like the U.S to double in the next two decades.

    Some of its biggest clients who have leased their healthcare facilities on a long term basis include Pro Medita and Evolution Health. You may also want to note that their average yields have risen by 3% annually in the last five years.

    Our Rating

    • Expertly managed with a proven history of dividend yield growth
    • Attractive return on investment since inception that currently stands at 14.9%
    • Highly positive future growth as it targets the ever-growing senior living market
    • Not immune to the real estate industry volatilities

    4. Digital Realty Trust - 12% p.a. and $21 Billion AUM

    Digital Realty Trust is a real estate investment company that specializes in the development of digital service provision facilities. It is especially involved in data management and currently boasts of maintaining one of the largest cloud services provision infrastructures globally that is hosted in their 198 data centres across the region.

    The realtor is also constantly building and acquiring new data centre campuses and with their most recent acquisition being the $1 billion purchase of Brazil’s largest data center provider. This would see the REIT company bring an additional 14 data center properties aboard their already broad asset base.

    The annualized returns on investment in the real estate company have averaged 12% since its establishment in 2006 with their dividends distributed to their members every quarter.

    Our Rating

    • Above-average performance of their real estate segment
    • Pays regular and quarterly returns on investments
    • Invests in two fast-paced growth markets – real estate and technology – to boost returns
    • Exposes your investments to both the real estate and technology industry volatilities
    • Minimal diversification exposes your investments to above-average risks

    5. American Tower REIT - 12% ROI and $67.7 Billion AUM

    American Towers is a communications services provider that owns and manages communication cell towers across the world. The REIT Company has so far built over 128,000 towers – 40,000 of which are in the United States with the rest spread across North and South America, Europe, and India.

    It then leases these towers on a medium-to-long-term basis to the telecommunication industry players in these countries. In the last decade, the dividend yield by the company that currently boasts of having over $67.7 Billion in assets under management has reported an annualized 12% ROI.

    This is expected to rise steadily going into the future, especially with the expected roll-out of the 5G network and massive adoption of smartphones as manufacturing companies continue pushing their prices further down.

    Our Rating

    • Exposes your investment to massive prospects for growth in the near future
    • Attractive dividend yields in the last decade
    • Regular incomes through quarterly dividend payouts
    • Exposes your investments to both real estate and telecommunication industry volatilities

    6. Iron Mountain REIT - 8% ROI and $8.8 Billion

    Iron Mountain is a real estate investment trust company that specializes in establishing and managing physical storage facilities across the world. Established in 2010, the company has so far built over 1,400 facilities in 54 countries across the world and currently serves over 225,000 clients with a special bias towards North American and Western Europe markets.

    The annualized average yield for the company over the past 8 years stands at 8% per annum. The steady growth of the company returns is evidenced by the fact that the dividend yield payout by Iron Mountain has increased by an average of 14.5% in the past three years.

    Our Rating

    • Unmatched growth opportunity as evidenced by the increased earnings over the past three years
    • Trusted by other 95% of Fortune 1000 companies
    • Attractive average returns on investments
    • Exposes you to both the technology and real estate market volatilities

    7. Americold Realty Trust - 10% ROI and $3.1 Billion AUM

    Americold is the only stock market traded REIT that specializes in the development and management of temperature controlled warehouses. And while the real estate company may be relatively new, it already has 154 warehouses under its management and 2,400+ clients across North and South America.

    Typically, the REIT generates income from renting their over 900 million cubic feet of storage and from franchising their brand. The return on investments here is projected to grow at a steady rate of between 10% and 15% in the next few years after the completion of several megaprojects that the realtor is pursuing.

    Our Rating

    • Market dominance gives it and their investors an advantage
    • Huge opportunity for growth
    • Attractive rate of returns on investment
    • No proven track record of high attractive yields as current projections are based on uncertain future events

    8. Gladstone Land REIT - 4.6% ROI and $189 Million AUM

    Goldstone concludes our list of the best REITs that you should consider buying into in 2021.

    Unlike most other REITS on this list that specialize in building physical properties, Gladstone is farm-oriented and acquires land from individual farmers before leasing it in chunks over a long period to corporations who produce vegetables and commodity crops for the U.S market.

    It also stands out from the rest of the industry operatives in the sense that unlike most of these other players whose returns are hugely variable, returns from Gladstone farms investments is fixed. Today, the firm maintains an active presence in over 10 states and has over 84 farms under its management that account for over 72,000 acres of land. Note that while the potential returns on investment may be low, they are fixed and span over periods with average farm rent period standing at 9 years.

    Our Rating

    • Guaranteed and fixed returns on investments
    • Operates in the insatiable food industry
    • Exposed to both the food industry and national economy volatilities

    Bottom line

    The ever-declining interest rates for savings and the uncertainties in the stock markets have forced most investors to embrace investments that guarantee the security of their deposits via physical assets. This birthed the lucrative real estate investment trusts that seek provide you with both the benefits of the real estate industry and stock markets. Traditionally, these REITs were centered around the development and management of residential, commercial, and student accommodation properties. However, recent shifts in the real estate industry like the 2007/8 real estate bubble burst has forced most REITS managers to come up with innovative real estate solutions that are aimed at protecting their client’s interests. These include diversifications that primarily involve fusing the real estate industry with technology, telecommunication, agricultural, and data management products. It is up to you to vet the different REIT solutions and identify one that appeals most to you.

    Glossary of Investment Terms

    Depiction of a bond certificate and dollar coin illustrating Bonds | Learnbonds

    A bond is a loan made to an organization or government with the guarantee that the borrower will pay back the loan plus interest upon the maturity of the loan term. It can be advanced to the national government, corporate institutions, and city administration. It is an investment class with a fixed income and a predetermined loan term.

    Depiction of coins and growth curve illustrating mutual funds | Learnbonds
    Mutual Fund

    A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment vehicle that pools together funds from numerous investors and invests it in such securities as stocks, bonds, and other money market instruments. They are headed by portfolio managers who determine where to invest these funds. They are highly regulated and invest in relatively low-risk money markets and in turn post lower rates than other aggressive managed funds.

    Illustration of an interlink depicting P2P lending | Learnbonds
    P2P Lending

    Peer-to-peer lending (p2p lending) is a form of direct-lending that involves one advancing cash to individuals and institutions online. A P2P lending platform, on the other hand, is an online platform connecting individual lenders to borrowers.

    Illsutration on a Bitcoin Coin | Bitcoin Learnbonds

    Bitcoin is the legacy cryptocurrency developed on the Bitcoin Blockchain technology. It is a new form of money primarily developed to solve some of the inherent challenges associated with fiat currencies like inflation and over-production. It is virtual (online) cash that you can use to pay for products and services from bitcoin-friendly stores.

    Depiction of an uptrending index fund | Learnbonds
    Index Funds

    An index fund refers to the coming together of individuals to pool in funds that are then invested in the stock and money markets by professional money managers. The only difference between an index fund and a mutual fund is that the index fund follows a specific set of rules that track specific investments and index stocks.

    Depiction of ETF performance |ETFs Learnbonds

    An Exchange-traded fund refers to an investment vehicle that is publicly traded in the stock exchange markets – much like shares and stocks. The fund is expert-managed and its portfolio comprises of such investment products as stocks, bonds, commodities, and more money market instruments like currencies.

    Deprion of an elderly person on a wheelchair depicting retirement | Learnbonds

    Retirement refers to the time you spend away from active employment and can be voluntary or occasioned by old age. In the United States, the retirement age is between 62 and 67 years.

    An illustration of uptrending penny stocks performance | Learnbonds
    Penny Stocks

    Penny Stocks refer to the common shares of relatively small public companies that sell at considerably low prices. They are also known as nano/micro-cap stocks and primarily include any public traded share valued at below $5.

    Depictin of a house loan form and pen illustrating nature of real estate | Learnbonds
    Real Estate

    Real Estate can be said to be the land and buildings on a given property as well as other rights associated with the use of the property like the air rights and underground rights. Real estate can be either commercial if the land, property, and buildings are used for business purposes or residential if they are used to non-business purposes – like building a family home.

    Depiction of a house illustrating Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) | Learnbonds
    Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)

    REITs are companies that use pooled funds from members to invest in income-generating real estate projects. While a REIT may specialize in one real estate niche, most diversify and invest in as many high-income real estate projects as possible. They are especially interested in commercial real estate projects like warehouses, prime office buildings, residential apartments, hotels, timber yards, and shopping malls.

    A hand holding a house and dollar cash illustrating different types of assets | Asset, Learnbonds

    Asset simply refers to any resource of value or a resource that can be owned and controlled to produce positive value by an individual or business.

    Depiction of a man with a house in mind - real estate Broker | Learnbonds

    A broker is an intermediary to a gainful transaction. It is the individual or business that links sellers and buyers and charges them a fee or earns a commission for the service.

    chart and graph depiction of market performance illustrating capital gains | Learnbonds
    Capital Gain

    Capital gains refer to the positive change in the price of a capital asset like shares and stock, bonds or a real estate project. It is the difference between the current selling price of the asset and its lower original buying price and it is considered a taxable income.

    Dollar sack and a stack of coins showing hedge fund performance | Hedge Fund, Learnbonds
    Hedge Fund

    A hedge fund is an investment vehicle that pools together funds from high net worth individuals and businesses before having professional money managers invest it in highly diversified markets. The difference between mutual and hedge funds is that the later adopts highly complicated portfolios comprised of more high-risk high-return investments both locally and internationally.

    Depiction of an uptrending index fund | Learnbonds

    An index simply means the measure of change arrived at from monitoring a group of data points. These can be company performance, employment, profitability, or productivity. Observing a stock index, therefore, involves measuring the change in these points of a select group of stocks in a bid to estimate their economic health.

    A downtrending market and a dollar coin depicting a recession | Learnbonds

    A recession in business refers to business contraction or a sharp decline in economic performance. It is a part of the business cycle and is normally associated with a widespread drop in spending.

    Tax, dollars and percentage depictions of a Taxable Account | Learnbonds
    Taxable Accounts

    Taxable Account refers to any investment account that invests in shares and stocks, bonds and other money market securities. The account is offered by a brokerage company and you are obliged to report and pay taxes on the investment income each year.

    Calculator, percentages and form illustrating a Tax-Advantaged account | Learnbonds
    Tax-Advantaged Accounts

    A tax-advantaged account refers to savings of investment accounts that enjoy such benefits as a tax exemption or deferred tax payment. Roth IRA and Roth 401K are examples of tax-exempt accounts whose contributions are drawn from after-tax incomes with the yields generated from investing funds therein being tax-exempt. Traditional IRA, 401K plan and college savings, on the other hand, represent tax-deferred accounts. Their contributions are deductible from your current taxable incomes but you get to pay taxes on their accrued incomes.

    Yiled Sign | Yield, Learnbonds

    Yield simply refers to the returns earned on the investment of a particular capital asset. It is the gain an asset owner gets from the utilization of an asset.

    A illustration of justice scale showing authosity a Custodian holds to custodial Account | Learnbonds
    Custodial Accounts

    A custodial account is any type of account that is held and administered by a responsible person on behalf of another (beneficiary). It may be a bank account, trust fund, brokerage account, savings account held by a parent/guardian/trustee on behalf of a minor with the obligation to pass it to them once they become of age.

    Hand holding different assets - house and cash - illustrating how asset management company works | Learnbonds
    Asset Management Company

    An Asset Management Company (AMC) refers to a firm or company that invests and manages funds pooled together by its members. Like mutual or hedge funds, the AMC creates diversified investment portfolios that comprise of shares and stocks, bonds, real estate projects, and other low and high-risk investments.

    Depictio of man thinking of money and risks illustrating a Registered Investment Advisor | Learnbonds
    Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)

    A registered investment advisor is an investment professional (an individual or firm) that advises high-net-worth (accredited) investors on possible investment opportunities and possibly manages their portfolio.

    Depiction of percentage growth rate of funds depicting Fed Rate percentage changes | Learnbonds
    Fed Rate

    The fed rate in the United States refers to the interest rate at which banking institutions (commercial banks and credit unions) lend - from their reserve - to other banking institutions. The Federal Reserve Bank sets the rate.

    Depiction of grrowing stacks of coins illustrating fixed income rates | Learnbonds
    Fixed Income Fund

    A fixed-income fund refers to any form of investment that earns you fixed returns. Government and corporate bonds are prime examples of fixed income earners.

    Dollar sack and potted plant depicting how assets grow in a Fund | Learnbonds

    A fund may refer to the money or assets you have saved in a bank account or invested in a particular project. It may also refer to the collective basket of resources pooled from different clients that are then invested in highly diversified income-generating projects.

    Depiction of a values of coin going up or down illustrating value investing | Learnbonds
    Value Investing

    Value investing is the art of using fundamental analysis to identify undervalued shares and stocks in the market. It involves buying these shares at the current discounted prices and hoping that a market correction pushes them up to their intrinsic value effectively resulting in massive gains.

    A plant groning on a stack of cash illustrating impact investing | Learnbonds
    Impact Investing

    Impact investing simply refers to any form of investment made with the aim of realizing financial returns while positively impacting the society, environment or any other aspect of life in the process. Investment in solar projects and green energy, for instance, posts profits and helps conserve the environment.

    Magnifying glass on a smartphone screen illustrating how Investing App works | Learnbonds
    Investing App

    An investment App is an online-based investment platform accessible through a smartphone application. It lets you save and invest your funds in a preset portfolio that primarily consists of shares and stocks, bonds, ETFs, and currencies based on your risk tolerance.

    A gorup of individuals and a dollar coin showing how crowdfunding works | Real Estate Crowdfunding, Learnbonds
    Real Estate CrowdFunding

    Real Estate crowdfunding is a platform that mobilizes average investors – mainly through social media and the internet – encourages them to pool funds, and invests them in highly lucrative real estate projects. It can be said to be an online platform that brings together average investors and lets them enjoy real estate projects previously preserved for high net worth and institutional investors.


    What are REITS?

    A Real estate investment trust is a pool of managed funds geared towards real estate industry investments. It can be an equity-oriented REIT that owns and invests in physical real estate properties or mortgage-oriented REIT that owns and invests in mortgage products. These properties and mortgages can be in any form of real estate be it farmland, residential and commercial buildings, warehouses, or even data center hubs ownership and management.

    How do I earn from my investments in REITS?

    REITs generate income for their investors on two fronts. On one hand, they generate rental and lease incomes in the case of equity REITs or mortgage interest in the case of Mortgage REITs. On the other hand, the forces of demand and supply often cause a price increase in the case of publicly-traded REITs.

    How much should I expect to pay in fees and charges when subscribing to a particular REITs?

    Fund managers have the right to express their discretion in determining the amounts – if any – charged on new member entrants. They also set the annual management fee charged on every member’s assets under management. Most REITs, however, maintain some of the most transparent pricing structures and it is not hard to tell the different types of fees charged on both new and existing members for every trading session.

    How much can I make with smartphone money making apps?

    Yes, any incomes earned from your investments in a real estate investment trust is taxable. It, therefore, is imperative that you contact tax consultant for guidance on how to go about reporting the REIT income. Note that unlike most other stock market investment income that falls under the income tax, REITs and MLPs are treated as ordinary income.

    How often should in expect the dividend earnings?

    REITs are best known for their regularity in paying off dividend incomes. In most cases, they consolidate the rental, lease, mortgage interest, and other accrued investment incomes before distributing them to the REIT members as dividend income every quarter.

    What risks do I expose my cash to by investing in REITs?

    REITs aren’t immune to volatilities in the economy and this serves as their biggest risk. Your investment in a REIT is exposed to the market risks associated with the industry in which your REIT invests in. For instance, most equity REITs are exposed to such risks as the inability to achieve full occupancy and common real estate market volatilities. Mortgage REITs, on the other hand, are exposed to such risks as delayed mortgage interest and principal amount repayments and even total defaults.

    Users should remember that all trading carries risks and users should only invest in regulated firms. Views expressed are those of the writers only. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The opinions expressed in this Site do not constitute investment advice and independent financial advice should be sought where appropriate. This website is free for you to use but we may receive commission from the companies we feature on this site.

    Edith is an investment writer, trader, and personal finance coach specializing in investments advice around the fintech niche. Her fields of expertise include stocks, commodities, forex, indices, bonds, and cryptocurrency investments. She holds a Masters degree in Economics with years of experience as a banker-cum-investment analyst. She is currently the chief editor, learnbonds.com where she specializes in spotting investment opportunities in the emerging financial technology scene and coming up with practical strategies for their exploitation. She also helps her clients identify and take advantage of investment opportunities in the disruptive Fintech world.