Best Residential REITs

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 21, 2024

Residential real estate investment trusts (REITs) are companies that own and manage a portfolio of residential properties, such as apartment buildings, single-family homes, or condos. By investing in residential REITs, individuals can gain exposure to the real estate market without the hassle of property management or large capital requirements.

One of the key benefits of investing in residential REITs is the steady dividend yield they offer. However, factors such as interest rate fluctuations, economic downturns, and changes in the real estate market can impact the performance of these REITs.

What are Residential REITs?

Residential REITs own, develop, and manage residential real estate. These properties are then rented out to tenants. These residences may include:

This type of real estate investment trust may own and manage anything from urban high rises to vacation condominiums, and everything in between. They just must be residential - not for commercial or industrial use.

Benefits of Residential REITs

  • Demand: People will always need somewhere to live. If you need to live in student housing while in college, then an apartment near your work, and then a single-family home in the suburbs, Residential real estate is always needed. As long as people need a roof over their heads, the profits will keep coming in.
  • Recession Resistant: Even when the economy is bad, people pay their rent first - they don’t want to be out on the streets. Other luxuries will be cut before rent. In some cases, people may move in with other family members to save money or move to a cheaper place, but most people don’t have anywhere to go and will do just about anything to save their home.

Risks of Residential REITs

  • Lease Terms: With residential real estate lease terms are generally 1-2 years, unlike commercial leases of 10+ years. This gives renters an out when their lease is up after just a short time. This leaves managers and owners constantly looking for new tenants.
  • Housing Market: REITs that own residential properties make their profits from renters. Nowadays, more and more people want to own. Mortgage companies and first-time buyer incentives try to make it easier for people to own as well. With more people becoming homeowners, there could be less need for rentals.

As with most types of REITs, residential and apartment REITs are a great long-term investment. If you have the money and the patience, you can reap great profits from residential REITs and set yourself up for a great retirement.

Largest Residential REITs

Listed below are 3 of the largest REIT stocks you can buy to take advantage of increasing rental rates in the residential real estate market.

AvalonBay Communities

AvalonBay Communities (NYSE: AVB) is a real estate investment trust with a long history of constructing, redeveloping, purchasing and managing innovative apartment homes in some of the top U.S. markets. The company aims to create a better way for people to live by offering new solutions to old problems and looking for innovative concepts to implement.

AvalonBay specializes in multifamily development, acquisition and management. The company owns apartment units throughout New England, the New York City metropolitan area, Washington, D.C., Seattle and California. The firm is the third largest owner of apartments in the U.S., with a portfolio size of nearly 80,000 apartment units across the states. Some notable properties owned by the firm include Avalon North Station, Avalon West Hollywood and Avalon Glendora.

Equity Residential

Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) is an S&P 500 firm specializing in acquiring, developing and managing residential apartment complexes in metropolitan and high-density suburban coastal gateway regions where today's affluent renters look for a place to live, work and play.

One of the key aspects that sets Equity Residential apart is its commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. The company actively seeks to incorporate energy-efficient solutions, green building materials, and eco-friendly initiatives into its properties, helping to reduce its carbon footprint and create healthier living environments for residents.

Invitation Homes

Invitation Homes Inc. (NYSE: INVH) is a U.S. leading single-family home leasing company, headquartered in the Comerica Bank Tower in Dallas, Texas. The company aims to change lifestyle demands by offering access to high-end, updated residential homes with excellent features, such as close vicinity to jobs and schools.

"Together with you, we make a house a home," the company's mission states, reflecting the Invitation Homes' commitment to providing houses where individuals and families may thrive, as well as high-touch service that consistently improves residents' living experiences.

Residential REIT ETFs

Another option for investing in residential REITs is to invest in an ETF that invests in residential REIT stocks. Investing in a residential REIT ETF is an easy way to invest in this industry while allowing a professional fund manager to choose which residential REITs to invest in, the right time to buy, and when to sell.

Below are 2 residential REIT ETFs worth looking at:

Industry Overview

Number of REITs19
Average Dividend Yield3.70%
YTD Total Return2.04%
May Total Return2.55%
2023 Total Return7.66%
Source: NAREIT

Quarterly Performance Data

Financial MetricQ1 20242023
FFO ($M)$2,693$10,721
NOI ($M)$3,707$14,884
Dividends Paid ($M)$1,774$6,851
Same Store NOI4.2%
Source: Nareit T-Tracker

All Residential REITs

Investing in Residential REITs

Residential real estate is arguably the safest property type to invest in. No matter what, people will always need a place to live. On top of that, rental properties benefit from being less affected by the real estate market than types of properties. If the housing market or the economy crashes, the demand for rentals actually increases as it becomes more difficult for people to buy a home. This makes residential REITs a solid investment that should provide consistent income for the long term.

Other Options to Invest in Residential Real Estate

REITs provide a low-cost and simple way to invest in real estate. However, they aren't the only alternative to buying a physical property. The real estate investment companies listed below provide investors with a simple way to earn passive income through residential real estate.

Real estate crowdfunding offers investors the ability to decide which properties they want to invest in while still enjoying passive income at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods of investing in real estate. Here are some of our favorite real estate crowdfunding platforms:

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the largest residential REIT in the world?

The largest residential REIT in the world is Equity Residential. Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Chicago, Equity Residential owns and operates a vast portfolio of high-quality apartment properties across the United States.

How to invest in a residential REIT?

To invest in a residential REIT, start by researching different REIT companies that specialize in residential properties. Look for REITs with a strong track record of performance, a diverse portfolio of residential properties, and a history of providing consistent dividends to their investors.
Once you have identified a residential REIT that aligns with your investment goals, you can purchase shares through a brokerage account, similar to buying stocks. Many residential REITs are publicly traded on stock exchanges, making them easily accessible to individual investors.

Can REITs invest in residential property?


While REITs traditionally focus on commercial real estate like office buildings, shopping centers, and industrial properties, they can also invest in residential properties. Residential REITs primarily invest in apartment buildings, single-family homes, and other types of residential real estate.