Sunday, March 1, 2009

Introduction to REITs Online

About REITs: Real Estate Investment Trusts

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) were created in the 60's so that all investors would have access to income-producing real estate through the purchase and sale of liquid securities. Before REITs were created access to investment returns of commercial real estate equity was only available to institutions and wealthy individuals.

For over half a century, REITs have become an important part of the United States economy and investment markets. United States REITs have grown from ninety billion dollars to over three hundred billion dollars in the past decade and they have gained popularity all over the world.

During their early years, mortgage Real Estate Investment Trust dominated the industry, providing debt financing for commercial or residential properties through investments in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Interest in equity REITs which own and manage commercial properties was limited because of the requirements that ownership and management of assets remain separate. This restriction was lifted with the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which allowed REITs to both own and manage properties. Now, more than 90% of publicly traded United States REITs are equity REITs that own and manage commercial real estate. Most of their income is derived from rents owned by companies across the nation.

There are certain guidelines and standards in place that must be followed in order for a company to qualify as a REIT in the US. The Internal Revenue Code requires at least seventy five percent of total assets be invested in real estate which realize at least seventy five percent of its gross income from rents from real property or interest from mortgages. They must also distribute at least ninety percent of taxable income to shareholders annually in the form of dividends.

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Real Estate as A Savings Plan

Are you one of those people who love the idea of putting money away to make sure you have it if you need it down the road, but never really gets around to it? Perhaps you have a tough time just leaving the money in the bank and when you see something that looks like it would be nice to have you cave in and make a purchase. Either that or you look at the low interest that is coming in from banks these days and think 'what's the use?' as you're not even making interest that will meet inflation.

If this sounds like you, you may need to look at another way to save your money and a REIT may be the answer. A REIT is a real estate investment trust. This is essentially a mutual fund for real estate that will be used to buy, build or manage real estate ventures.

Those who are in REITs purchase shares, just like you would any stock, mutual funds or commodities on the stock market and allow that money to grow. In this case the growth comes from the lease, rent or mortgage insurance paid to the fund. The average return on REITs is 6-10%, which is triple, or quadruple of what most savings plans will net you in the bank.

Additionally, for the most part, REITs are pretty strong investments. Most of them are based on tangible pieces of property that are not going anywhere, so while values may fluctuate, they will still have some value.

Unlike buying real pieces of property, which means a lot of money, paperwork, and quite the hassle finding a buyer if you want to sell, REITs will allow you to instead sell your shares just like you would any other stock, mutual fund or commodities on the stock market.

If you're smart about this type of investment, you will treat it as a savings plan. As you get the money to purchase shares, make a purchase and then allow your annual dividends to be rolled back into purchase more shares. If you keep making your purchases on a regular time frame and let them grow. You may be surprised at just how much it grows for you to have down the road when you need it.

With the recent down market, there's no time like the present to buy. In the immortal words of multi-millionaire T. Harv. Eker, "Don't wait to buy real estate, buy real estate and wait."

If you have never heard of REITs or worked with them before, don't let that be a deterrent to you. Simply by logging on to a website such as you will be able to learn everything you need to know to be investing like a pro in no time and start that savings plan.

If you're completely new to this, begin with the basics. Make your way through the website learning all you need to know about REITs and then choose the ones that are best for you. The best part about is that you can then make your purchase on their website, as they are a full service investing real estate broker, and watch your portfolio all in the same place