Real Estate Funds vs REITs: What’s the Difference?
Real estate is one of the most profitable investments financially, but many investors shy away from real estate due to the active involvement required and high barrier-to-entry. Real estate funds and real estate investment trusts (REITs) are two types of investment vehicles that allow investors to gain exposure to the real estate market. While they both offer the opportunity to invest in real estate, there are several key differences between real estate funds and REITs.
What are real estate funds and REITs?
Real estate funds are mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in real estate-related assets, such as residential and commercial properties, mortgages, and real estate development companies. Real estate funds offer investors diversified exposure to the real estate market and can be an attractive option for those who are looking to invest in real estate but do not have the time, expertise, or resources to invest in individual properties. Real estate funds are managed by professional portfolio managers who research and select investments for the fund.
REITs, on the other hand, are publicly traded companies that own and operate real estate properties, such as apartment buildings, shopping centers, and office buildings. REITs generate income from the rent and lease payments they receive from their tenants, and they are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. REITs offer investors a way to invest in a portfolio of real estate properties without the hassle of directly owning and managing them.
How do they differ?
One of the main differences between real estate funds and REITs is the level of diversification they offer. Real estate funds offer diversified exposure to the real estate market, as they may invest in a variety of different real estate-related assets. REITs, on the other hand, tend to be more focused on a specific type of real estate, such as residential or commercial properties. As a result, REITs may be more susceptible to the ups and downs of the market in a particular property sector.
Another key difference between real estate funds and REITs is the level of liquidity they offer. Real estate funds, as mutual funds or ETFs, can be bought and sold on the stock exchange on a daily basis, making them highly liquid. REITs, on the other hand, are traded on the stock exchange like regular stocks, but they may be less liquid than real estate funds, as their share price may be influenced by a variety of factors, such as the performance of the underlying real estate properties, the overall real estate market, and the overall stock market.
Beyond that, real estate funds and REITs differ in the level of control and transparency they offer. Real estate funds are managed by professional portfolio managers who make the investment decisions for the fund, and they may not provide investors with detailed information about the specific properties or investments in the fund. REITs, on the other hand, are required to disclose information about their properties and financial performance to the public, which can provide investors with a higher level of transparency and accountability.
One of the most easily notable differences between the two investments is the terms of the fees they charge. Real estate funds typically charge management fees and expense ratios, which can vary depending on the fund. REITs may also charge management fees and other expenses, but they are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. As a result, REITs may offer investors a higher level of income potential compared to real estate funds.
There are many factors to consider when choosing between an REIT and real estate funds. Investors should carefully consider their investment goals and risk tolerance when deciding which type of vehicle is right for them. It is also important to consult with a financial professional to determine which type of real estate investment is most appropriate based on an individual’s specific financial situation.