Debunking Misconceptions: What Retirees Need to Know About REITs

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have steadily become increasingly popular investment vehicles for people looking to generate passive income and diversify their portfolios. However, retirees, in particular, often need clarification about REITs, which can lead to suboptimal investment decisions. In this blog, we’ll address the common myths surrounding REITs and provide clarity to retirees seeking a better understanding of this unique investment option.

Misconception: REITs are only for wealthy investors

One common belief among retirees is that REITs are exclusive to high-net-worth individuals, and this is far from the truth. They are publicly traded on stock exchanges, making them easily accessible to investors of all income levels. Additionally, many REITs have relatively low minimum investment requirements, allowing retirees with limited resources to invest in real estate.

Misconception: REITs are too risky for retirees

Due to their association with real estate, risk-averse retirees often view REITs as inherently risky investments. While it’s true that individual real estate properties can be subject to market fluctuations, REITs help mitigate these risks by pooling together many properties. This diversification lowers the overall risk for investors, making REITs a more stable option than directly investing in a single property.

Furthermore, REITs typically invest in income-generating properties such as shopping centers, office buildings, and apartments, which can provide a steady income stream for retirees. Investors can expect to receive consistent dividends as long as the properties remain occupied and well-maintained.

Misconception: REITs are not tax-efficient for retirees

Some retirees worry that REIT dividends are taxed more than traditional stock dividends, making them less tax-efficient. While it’s true that REIT dividends are often taxed as ordinary income, several factors can offset this perceived disadvantage.

First, many retirees have lower taxable income, potentially resulting in a lower overall tax rate. Second, some REITs issue a portion of their dividends as qualified dividends, taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. Finally, investing in REITs through tax-advantaged accounts, such as IRAs or 401(k)s, can help minimize the tax burden on dividends.

Misconception: REITs provide low returns compared to stocks

Retirees may believe that REITs offer lower returns than stocks. Still, historical data shows that REITs have outperformed the broader stock market over an extended time. According to NAREIT, from 1994 to 2020, the total return for the FTSE Nareit All REITs Index was 9.72% per year, while the S&P 500 Index had an annualized return of 9.61%.

Although, past performance is not a sure way to guarantee future results. Still, this data suggests that REITs can be a viable option for retirees seeking long-term growth and income.

Misconception: REITs require significant management and expertise

Some retirees may hesitate to invest in REITs due to concerns about the complexity and management responsibilities. However, investing in a REIT is similar to investing in an ETF or mutual fund, with professional management teams overseeing the properties and making decisions on behalf of investors.

By investing in a REIT, retirees can benefit from the expertise of these management teams without having to manage real estate investments personally. This hands-off approach can be particularly appealing to retirees who want to focus on enjoying their retirement years without the added stress of property management.

Misconception: All REITs are the same

Retirees may assume that all REITs are similar in structure and investment strategy, but this needs to be more accurate. There are various types of REITs, each focusing on different real estate market sectors. For example, some REITs specialize in commercial properties, while others invest in residential or healthcare facilities.

Moreover, there are Equity REITs, which own and manage properties, and Mortgage REITs, which invest in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Each type of REIT offers its own set of risks and rewards, allowing investors to choose the one that best aligns with their risk tolerance and investment goals.

Misconception: REITs are illiquid investments

Some retirees may be concerned about the liquidity of REIT investments, fearing they may be unable to sell their shares quickly if needed. However, most REITs are publicly traded on major stock exchanges, making them just as liquid as traditional stocks. Investors can readily buy and sell shares of a REIT in the open market, allowing them to adjust their investment strategy as needed.

Misconception: REITs are only for short-term investments

While some investors may use REITs for short-term gains, they can also be an excellent long-term investment option for retirees. REITs promote the potential for capital appreciation, as well as a consistent stream of income through dividends. Over the long term, this combination of growth and payment can help retirees achieve their financial goals and maintain their desired lifestyle during retirement.

Misconception: REITs don’t offer inflation protection

Inflation can erode retirees’ purchasing power, making it essential to include investments that protect rising prices. Many believe that REITs don’t offer this benefit, but this is a misconception. Real estate investments have historically been a good hedge against inflation, as real estate values and rental income tend to rise along with inflation.

As a result, investing in REITs can help retirees preserve their wealth and maintain their standard of living, even in times of rising inflation.


As we’ve seen, many of the misconceptions surrounding REITs are unfounded. REITs can be an attractive retirement investment option, offering diversification, income generation, and growth potential. Retirees can make more informed decisions about their investment strategies and secure a comfortable financial future by understanding the true nature of REITs and debunking these common myths.