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2022 has presented some unique challenges to investors regardless of age and the risk composition of your portfolio. Stocks have seen a near bear market (at the time of this writing May 2022) and bonds have seen the worst start to the year since 1842. Basically, if you’re alive, you’ve never seen a market like this. That’s not a reason to panic, bail on your strategy or do anything of the sort, but it has provided investors and investment advisors alike, the opportunity to review your current strategy for enhancements either through more diversification or tactically added asset classes you wouldn’t have considered in the past.

One option that has become more popular has been real estate investing. Nearly every person that is an investor, has some real estate exposure in their life because of their home. If you’re fretting about your stock or bond returns for 2022, one thing that may cheer you up would be to review your Zillow home value, relative to what it was a few years ago and you’ll quickly see you have an asset still in appreciation mode, most likely (Note: it’s one reason why when we do Financial Planning we track your total net worth, home and all, because it’s helps you to see, even when stock market assets are declining other assets on your balance sheet can be still appreciating). However, an area that many investors do not get exposure into, unless you’re a business owner, is commercial real estate. This chart let’s you see that during the last thirty years, both stocks and private real estate have led the way in terms of performance, with real estate getting a slight edge, because according to the NCREIF Property Index, real estate has had much better downside protection.

Take a look on your local MLS and check the price of any large commercial real estate for sale and you’ll quickly realize this is not something you can typically do on your own. However, investors do have the ability to collectively pool their investments together much like you do in a mutual fund or ETF, with the experience and expertise of a seasoned management team that will make all the buy, sell and hold decisions, through Real Estate Investment Trusts or “REITS”.

What Is a REIT?

REITS give you the property owner, the ability to invest in multiple real estate projects without the headache of tenants and toilets. REITs are required to distribute 90% of their income to the investors, meaning they can only leave 10% inside the fund for additional real estate acquisition purposes and at least 75% of the fund has to be invested in real estate. You can find REITS that specialize in a certain type of real estate, such as retail, office or student housing and you can find REITs that specialize in certain industries such as healthcare.

Why Purchase a REIT?

There could be many reasons why you would like to purchase a REIT however commons reasons are consistent income, capital appreciation and diversification. When owning real estate that is occupied by a tenant, you are going to receive rent and that rent, or at least 90% of it, must be distributed to you the investor. This would provide you a level of current and consistent income that can help meet your retirement income needs along with your stocks and bonds. Additionally, over time, real estate has shown the ability to appreciate, especially if purchased in a the right area. Therefore, real estate can provide you with the best of both worlds, current income and future appreciation potential. Of course, with any investment, there is no free lunch, so as an investor I could be purchasing a REIT, that if not properly run and/or if they don’t execute upon their strategy, doesn’t achieve the objectives of the fund or the investor. Thus, as with any investment, we believe due diligence and the help of an investment advisor is warranted.

Tax Benefits of REITS

IF a REIT is purchased within a brokerage or non-retirement account (Dave Ramsey calls these bridge accounts), it can provide the investor with certain tax benefits that help make the investment more attractive. Before we dig into the tax benefits let’s first understand the two main ways a return is generated on a REIT. First, the rent that is collected from the tenants of the properties owned within the REIT is considered “income”. This income is generally taxable in the year you receive it and taxed at your current income rates. Second, the REIT is investing in property and that property has the potential to appreciate over time. When your REIT sells the property that has appreciated over time, then you’ll be taxed at a long-term capital gains tax rate (assuming property is held for longer than one year). Finally, you can receive what are called Return of Capital Distributions. These are distributions paid to you that are not taxed, at least initially. A return of capital distribution would lower your cost basis meaning that if you bought a REIT for $50 / share and they distributed $2 to you through return of capital, it would lower your cost basis to $48 however, the $2 distribution would not be taxable at the time of distribution.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

This tax cut put in place by President Donald Trump, made most REITS qualify for a 20% deduction in their dividends. This deduction, called the Section 199A Qualified Business Income deduction, allows the investor that has pass through income, which is what a REIT is doing, to deduct 20% of the that income from their tax return. Let’s look at an example below:

Sample REIT distribution:

  • Ordinary Dividend (Section 199A): $1.80 / share

  • Long-Term Capital Gain: $1.00 / share

  • Return of Capital Distribution: $0.20 / share

  • Total Distribution: $3.00 / share

In this example, if you owned 200 shares of the REIT you would have received a $600 distribution. However, the tax implications of that distribution would have been as follows:

  • $1.44 of the ordinary dividend would have been taxable at the investor’s current income tax bracket (using the 20% deduction).

  • $1.00 would be tax at the client’s long term capital gains tax rate which is 0%, 15% or 20%

  • $0.20 would be not taxable however it would lower the cost basis of the investment meaning it would be taxed when the investment was sold either at short term or long-term capital gains tax rates, depending on how long the investor held the asset.

All in, the investor was paying tax, initially on $2.44 of the $3.00 distribution, therefore providing a more tax efficient investment potentially, than other options available to the investor.


Should a REIT be a good option for you, as an investor? Perhaps, especially as you are near retirement and your goal shifts from asset growth and accumulation to asset growth, principal protection and consistent income to replace your employment income. Your Financial Advisor Team at Whitaker-Myers Wealth Managers is poised to discuss the different REIT options available to our clients, to determine if they would meet your unique goals and objectives.


June 1, 2022

John-Mark Young

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