A real estate investment trust, or REIT, is a business structure that makes money by owning or financing property. First legally created in the U.S. through the Real Estate Investment Trust Act of 1960, REITs do not pay any corporate income tax. Instead, these entities must pay out at least 90% of their otherwise taxable income to investors in the form of dividends.
Since 1960, the REIT approach to real estate investing has been refined, enhanced, and grown to a $1 trillion equity market. It represents nearly $3 trillion in gross real estate assets, with more than $2 trillion of that total coming from publicly listed and non-listed REITs. The remainder is from privately held entities.