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What is a REIT?

A REIT (pronounced "reet” and short for Real Estate Investment Trust) is a publicly traded organization that invests predominantly in income-producing real estate assets. REIT units are an equity investment, providing investors with attractive yields, plus the potential for capital appreciation.

The concept was introduced in the United States in 1960 to provide individual investors with the opportunity to participate in different sectors of the real estate market. Income earned by a REIT flows through to its unit holders without being taxed at the REIT level, giving regular investors similar flow-through income to that enjoyed by direct owners of commercial property.

Just like a mutual fund, REIT investors benefit from enhanced buying power, diversification, liquidity and professional management. REITs are required to distribute virtually all distributable income to unit holders monthly or quarterly – usually with a tax-deferred component. Assets of a REIT do not deplete in the same way that, say, an oil and gas royalty trust might; so, as long as there are income producing buildings and properties, REITs are a viable investment structure.        

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