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REIT vs. Rental Property: Which Is Better for Real Estate Investment?

Real estate investment is a popular avenue for building wealth and generating passive income. 

When considering real estate, two prominent options emerge: Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and physical rental properties

Both offer unique advantages and considerations, making it essential to understand the nuances of each before making an investment decision. Below, we'll compare REITs and rental properties to help you determine which might be better suited to your investment goals.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs are investment vehicles that allow individuals to invest in large-scale, income-producing real estate without having to directly own or manage properties. They are traded on stock exchanges, providing investors with a liquid and easily accessible form of real estate investment.

Advantages of REITs

Diversification: REITs often hold a diversified portfolio of properties, which can include commercial buildings, residential complexes, hotels, and more. This diversity helps spread risk across different types of real estate.

Liquidity: REITs can be bought and sold on stock exchanges like any other publicly traded company. This provides investors with liquidity and the ability to exit their investments relatively quickly.

Professional Management: With REITs, professional managers handle property acquisition, management, and disposition. This means investors do not have to deal with day-to-day property management tasks.

Accessibility: REITs have a lower barrier to entry compared to purchasing physical properties. Investors can start with a relatively small amount of capital.

Considerations for REITs

Income Tax Considerations: REITs are required by law to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders. This means investors may face tax implications related to their dividends.

Lack of Control: As a REIT investor, you do not have direct control over property decisions. Management decisions are made by the REIT's management team.

Rental Properties

Purchasing and renting out physical properties is a traditional form of real estate investment. It involves direct ownership, management, and maintenance of the property.

Advantages of Rental Properties

Potential for Appreciation: Physical properties have the potential to appreciate over time, leading to increased equity and potential profits upon sale.

Cash Flow: Rental properties can provide a steady stream of rental income, which can contribute to monthly cash flow and serve as a source of passive income.

Tax Benefits: Rental property owners may benefit from tax deductions on mortgage interest, property taxes, depreciation, and other expenses related to property ownership.

Considerations for Rental Properties

Management Responsibilities: Unlike REITs, rental properties require hands-on management, including finding tenants, property maintenance, and handling tenant issues.

Illiquidity: Compared to REITs, selling a physical property can take more time and effort. It may not be as easily convertible to cash, especially in a down market.


At the end of the day, the choice between investing in REITs or rental properties depends on your individual investment goals, risk tolerance, and preferences. REITs offer diversification and liquidity but lack direct control, while rental properties provide the potential for appreciation and cash flow but require more hands-on management. It's also possible to incorporate both strategies into a diversified real estate portfolio!