Residential Properties REITs

Owning and managing a variety of homes and renting out space to tenants.

Author: Mahdi Naouar
Mahdi Naouar
Mahdi Naouar

Mahdi, currently pursuing a Master's in Finance at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Tunis Business School. Certified as a Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst, he brings expertise from his roles in M&A deal advisory at KPMG and private equity at AfricInvest.

Reviewed By: Aditya Salunke
Aditya Salunke
Aditya Salunke
Last Updated:May 23, 2024

What are Residential Properties REITs?

Residential Real Estate Investment Trusts own and manage a variety of homes, and they rent out space to tenants. 

Residential REITs include those with a focus on manufactured homes, single-family houses, apartment buildings, condominium complexes, and student housing. Some of these concentrate on particular geographic regions or types of homes within those market segments.

Particular residential building types, such as high-rise flats in urban settings, focus on several residential Real Estate Investment Trusts.

Others can limit their efforts to developing residences for particular populations, such as constructing apartments and homes for students in college cities.

The REIT will manage all elements of the property investment the REIT owns. This entails purchasing land, building, leasing, managing tenants, enabling maintenance, paying taxes, and, if and when necessary, even selling the property.

A residential REIT is considered a focused REIT, meaning that it primarily invests in residential real estate and, historically, owns and often administers these buildings.

A focused REIT invests primarily in one type of property, while a diversified Real Estate Investment Trusts portfolio may include residential REITs and other properties such as industrial, hotel, or office buildings. 

Key Takeaways

  • Residential REITs manage a wide variety of property types, including apartment buildings, single-family homes, student housing, condominium complexes, and manufactured homes, catering to different segments of the residential rental market.
  • These REITs handle comprehensive aspects of property management, such as purchasing land, construction, leasing, tenant management, maintenance, tax payments, and property sales, providing a hands-off investment option for investors.
  • Residential REITs are attractive for their potential to provide a stable and consistent income stream through dividends, as they are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders.
  • Shares of residential REITs are traded on stock markets, offering liquidity and ease of buying and selling, which makes them accessible and flexible investment options for both short-term and long-term investors.

Understanding residential REITs

To further comprehend residential property Real Estate Investment Trusts, It is crucial to know that there is a difference between residential home ownership markets and REITs. 

Residential for-sale homeownership markets are a production process where inventory is used to manufacture a product sold to customers. This concept differs entirely from a reit, which acquires, sells, and manages income-producing residential properties.

As a result, these two sectors' real estate cycles differ due to various foundations. For instance, a sizable portion of borrowers would not have been able to obtain a mortgage without the subprime lending market due to their bad credit history, erratic income, and other factors. 

This is distinct from commercial real estate, where the legitimacy of (many) tenants in a property determines the bankruptcy risk.

Many residences may be found in residential Real Estate Investment Trusts' portfolios, including single homes, apartment complexes, student housing, townhomes, and manufactured homes.


Manufactured housing REITs own the land and rent it to owners of mobile homes.

Apartment Real Estate Investment Trusts are the most popular type of residential real estate investment trust because they are affordable and generate a consistent income stream.

They invest in several individual homes housed within a single structure. The most typical shape is also an apartment building, but it could also be a four-plex. 

Apartment homes are also included in planned communities, such as co-op housing complexes. Apartment buildings are defined as having at least four or five apartments.

Categories of Residential Property REITs

The categories are as follows:

1. Apartments: Apartment houses, often known as apartment blocks or blocks of flats, are multi-unit buildings, with most units intended for residential use but occasionally featuring commercial space. apartment building

2. Single-Family Homes: A single-family home is a standalone residential building situated on its property and intended to serve as a single-living unit. It has one kitchen, private walls, and private amenities.

3. Condominium complexes: A condominium complex is defined as 25 or more condominium units on a single property or a group of related properties owned or managed by the same entity.


A condominium complex refers to a deed that grants ownership of improvements by one or more owners and an undivided interest in the common elements attached to each such unit.

4. Student housing: When students enrolled in an educational facility utilize a building or a section of a building for domestic purposes, that building or component is referred to as student housing.

5. Manufactured houses: any home built or manufactured to serve as a permanent habitation for one or more people and is intended to be transportable but excludes travel trailers and tent trailers.

What makes residential REITs attractive?

Despite being far less interesting than, say, the newest tech companies, Real Estate Investment Trusts are a very reliable and long-lasting investment that frequently shows its value over time

Residential Real Estate Investment Trusts are an excellent option for real estate investors searching for a highly safe standalone investment or even to balance out riskier ones.

Shares in a residential REIT may be purchased for various purposes by investors. However, the fact that they pay investors dividends is the most significant. 

These dividends may become a regular source of passive income for many as REITs are required to distribute 90% or more of their taxable revenue to investors.

A residential REIT can increase in value over time, just like all other REITs. If so, when and if investors choose to sell their shares in the future, they will also realize gains.

Several Residential Real Estate Investment Trusts are traded on the stock market. Because of this, buying and selling them is quick and straightforward. This aids in ensuring that public Real Estate Investment Trusts continue to be generally liquid investments.

Investors can expand their real estate investment portfolio with a residential REIT. For instance, those interested in urban regions can invest in a REIT that only deals in high-rise condos.

Investors don't have to fully fund those real estate purchases or manage the properties themselves; they can invest in real estate interests without taking on all the burdens. 

Investors still profit from the property's development and revenue even though they don't have to worry about finding tenants, keeping track of property taxes, or receiving a call at four in the morning about a broken water cooler.

Residential Real Estate Investment Trusts' last and maybe greatest advantage is that it enables investors to diversify their portfolios by including real estate holdings. This can aid in protecting against losses brought on by inflation or market declines.

Risk factors surrounding residential REITs

Since most residential Real Estate Investment Trusts are traded on the stock market, they involve risks similar to those associated with equity investments.

Real estate prices rise and fall in response to external stimuli, underlying fundamentals, and several other market dynamics.

Rent Control 

The Apartment REIT industry may be impacted by rent control, stability regulations, or government-supported housing, which implies more competition than other REIT sectors. 

These steps could prevent or make it more difficult for Apartment Real Estate Investment Trusts to increase rents.

This might significantly reduce an Apartment REIT's profitability and capacity to offset increases in operating expenses like rising energy bills. 

Additionally, increased competition from other housing providers may impact an Apartment REIT's performance and reduce its appeal to investors.

Home Ownership versus "For Rent" Residential Real Estate

Apartment Real Estate Investment Trusts operate in the commercial-for-rent residential real estate sector rather than the residential for-sale home ownership sector. Yet, issues with the housing markets can still have a detrimental impact on Apartment REITs.

Apartment Real Estate Investment Trusts' capacity to refinance with equity and debt financing in public and private markets can be particularly impacted by a housing market crisis, even though the economic drivers of rental flats are unlikely.

Although the subprime crisis is more commonly linked with "homeownership" goods than commercial real estate for rent, the short-term pricing of listed (Apartment) real estate declined.

From an investor's standpoint, a high incidence of foreclosures in the private housing market is advantageous for the rental market since more individuals are compelled to rent homes rather than own them.

Theoretically, this should raise the price of Apartment Real Estate Investment Trusts and their earnings.

Condominium Conversion

Apartment Real Estate Investment Trusts sometimes participate in condominium conversion (for sale), which presents certain risks and difficulties for an Apartment REIT. 

An Apartment REIT transforms an existing structure into apartment developments for sale in a condominium conversion. In this situation, the REIT may be exposed to risk if it cannot get the necessary zoning permissions and release from financial or prior contractual obligations.

The capacity to comprehend the expenses of the conversion and the appropriate criteria for meeting a competitive market position are also required for the conversion into a condominium. 

Along with a shortage of buyers, there may be an oversupply of condominiums in some local markets, which puts investors at risk.

Demographics and Household Formation

The influence of changing household formation and demographic demographics concerns apartment Real Estate Investment Trusts. This implies that demographics have a significant impact on apartment demand.

For instance, the client base of an Apartment REIT may be impacted by tighter immigration regulations that decrease the number of immigrants who primarily rent rather than purchase a home. Additionally, changes in family composition can have both beneficial and negative effects on a REIT.

Oversupply and competition 

A residential REIT may find it alluring to invest heavily in a strong market. It's one thing to balance a portfolio among various markets or rental property types, but it's quite another to concentrate most of your assets in one location. 

Residential REITs that are overleveraged are especially vulnerable to oversupply. Therefore, it can be a major issue when an apartment building suddenly experiences a surge of competing apartments. 

The race to the bottom starts as many businesses reduce rents to remain competitive with other properties of the same sort to stop the bleeding.

Comparing Residential REITs

Residential real estate investment trusts invest in homes. While many other REITs have characteristics comparable to residential REITs, each has its property categories and associated risks.

1. Mortgage REITs 

They primarily buy or create mortgages and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). They also provide funding for real estate that generates income by collecting interest—mREITs aid in supplying the real estate market with crucial liquidity.

Residential Real Estate Investment Trusts purchase the property and rent it to tenants instead of mortgage Real Estate Investment Trusts. 

2. Hospitality REITs

Luxury and business-class hotels, opulent destination resorts, upmarket accommodations, and other hospitality properties are hospitality REITs' main emphasis. 


Hospitality REITs differ from residential REITs in that they focus on large and expensive properties that must be maintained and checked regularly for the guests' comfort.

3. Office REITs

Office Real Estate Investment Trusts own and manage commercial assets and lease out space to tenants. These properties might include everything from office parks to buildings. 

Some office Real Estate Investment Trusts concentrate on certain markets, such as suburban or downtown regions.

4. Industrial REITs

Industrial Real Estate Investment Trusts own, operate, and lease out space in industrial properties to tenants. Several industrial Real Estate Investment Trusts, like warehouses and distribution facilities, concentrate on particular property categories. 

Industrial Real Estate Investment Trusts are crucial to e-commerce and aid with supplying the demand for quick delivery.

Top residential investment REITs

Like all REIT classes, there are several excellent options in the residential sector. However, long-term investments are best made in businesses that have researched their markets and are ready for setbacks.

1. Camden Property Trust 

A publicly listed real estate investment trust specializing in residential properties in the U.S. The company has stakes in 171 apartment complexes with 58,588 apartment houses in the United States as of November 30, 2021.

2. Essex Property Trust

An S&P 500 firm, Essex Property Trust, Inc., is a fully integrated real estate investment trust (REIT) that buys, develops, renovates, and manages multifamily residential properties, particularly West Coast locations.


Essex has ownership interests in 246 apartment communities totaling around 60,000 apartment houses, and six more projects are actively under construction at various phases.

3. Mid-America Apartment Communities

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Mid-America Apartment Communities is a publicly listed real estate investment trust that purchases apartments in the Southeastern and Southwest regions of the country. By the end of 2020, the business held 300 residential complexes with 100,490 housing units.

4. Equity Residential

A publicly traded apartment investment trust. As of December 31, 2021, the business held 310 properties totaling 80,407 apartment units across Southern California, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, and Dallas/Ft. Worth and Austin, as well as stakes in a further 66 properties.

5. AvalonBay communities

In 11 states and the District of Columbia, as of December 31, 2020, the company owned or maintained a direct or indirect ownership interest in 291 apartment communities with 86,025 apartments, of which 18 communities were under development, and one community was undergoing renovation. 

The company is an equity real estate investment trust that develops, redevelops, buys, and manages apartment communities in well-known metropolitan areas such as:

  • New England
  • The New York/New Jersey Metro area, the Mid-Atlantic
  • The Pacific Northwest, Northern, and Southern California
  • As well as in the company's expansion markets such as Southeast Florida and Denver, Colorado.

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