Why Are Mortgage REITs Getting Killed?

When the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates (where they borrow) is substantial, mREITs can produce a significant net interest margin (where they lend). Unfortunately, the spread rarely remains broad for long, which makes mREITs extremely volatile. Because of this risk, mREITs aren’t always the best choice for income-seekers, as their high yields fluctuate drastically. A few fascinating mREITs, on the other hand, are worth investigating since their differentiated business strategies help buffer them from the sector’s overall volatility.

How do banks damage mortgage REITs?

High levels of uncertainty prompted a flight to cash, drying up liquidity and making short-term funding more difficult to come by. This has a direct impact on Mortgage REITs’ ability to raise financing to fund their leveraged business strategy. Mortgage-backed securities, which serve as collateral for Mortgage REITs’ short-term loans, fell in value as a result of the flight to cash and increased credit risk (for non-agency mortgages). Mortgage REITs were obliged to sell their holdings in response to bank margin calls as the value of collateral dropped.

What are the risks of mortgage REITs?

Individual company strategies differ, but the riskiest aspect of investing in mortgage REITs is usually interest rates.

These businesses borrow money at cheaper short-term rates in order to purchase mortgages with periods of 15 or 30 years. If short-term interest rates stay the same or fall, this strategy works. However, if short-term borrowing rates rise, mortgage REIT profit margins could quickly collapse.

Why REITs are bad investments?

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are not for everyone. This is the section for you if you’re wondering why REITs are a bad investment for you.

The major disadvantage of REITs is that they don’t provide much in the way of capital appreciation. This is because REITs must return 90 percent of their taxable income to investors, limiting their capacity to reinvest in properties to increase their value or acquire new holdings.

Another disadvantage is that REITs have very expensive management and transaction costs due to their structure.

REITs have also become increasingly connected with the larger stock market over time. As a result, one of the previous advantages has faded in value as your portfolio becomes more vulnerable to market fluctuations.

Why do mortgage REITs pay high dividends?

Residential mortgage loans or pools of mortgage loans generated by qualifying financial institutions are purchased by these organizations. To be purchased, the mortgages must meet particular lending standards and other factors.

These mortgages are packaged by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae into agency mortgage-backed securities, or MBS. Because the principal and interest paid by homeowners are passed on to the holders of mortgage-backed securities, these bonds are referred to as “pass-through securities.” The payment of the principal and interest on the mortgages that make up the agency mortgage-backed securities is guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae.

According to sifma, there were $8.1 trillion in outstanding US agency mortgage-backed securities as of September 30, 2020.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae all issue interest-bearing bonds known as agency securities in addition to mortgage-backed securities. The proceeds from these bonds are used to fund the agencies’ operations as well as to purchase mortgages that are later included in mortgage-backed securities.

Investors presume the US government will guarantee the performance of these bonds if Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Ginnie Mae run into financial difficulties, therefore these three agencies can issue debt at extremely low yields. During the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 and 2009, this assumption proved right, as the US government did indeed offer financial support to these organizations, preventing their bonds from defaulting.

Non-Agency Mortgage-backed Securities

Non-agency mortgage-backed securities are also packaged by private issuers from pools of mortgages. To protect holders from defaults on the underlying mortgages, non-agency mortgage-backed securities may include insurance or other credit enhancements.

According to sifma, there were $1.3 trillion in non-agency mortgage-backed securities outstanding as of September 30, 2020.

Do mortgage REITs go down when interest rates go up?

Because the value of a mortgage bond is inversely proportional to interest rates (higher rates cause mortgage bond values to fall), higher rates will cause the NAV of a mortgage REIT to fall, and the share price will often follow.

Are mortgage REIT dividends qualified?

Because most stock dividends fall under the IRS’s definition of “qualified dividends,” they are subject to lower long-term capital gains tax rates. The majority of REIT distributions aren’t eligible.

As a result, the bulk of REIT dividends are treated as regular income and are taxed at your marginal rate.

Some of your REIT distributions, on the other hand, may qualify as eligible dividends. When a REIT distributes a long-term capital gain on the sale of an asset or gets a qualified dividend payment, this occurs.

Is REIT a good investment in 2021?

Three primary causes, in my opinion, are driving investor cash toward REITs.

The S&P 500 yields a pitiful 1.37 percent, which is near to its all-time low. Even corporate bonds have been bid up to the point that they now yield a poor return compared to the risk they pose.

REITs are the last resort for investors looking for a decent yield, and demographics support greater yield-seeking behavior. As people near retirement, they typically begin to desire dividend income, and the same silver tsunami that is expected to raise healthcare demand is also expected to increase dividend demand.

The REIT index’s 2.72 percent yield isn’t as high as it once was, but it’s still far better than the alternatives. A considerably greater dividend yield can be obtained by being choosy about the REITs one purchases, and higher yielding REITs have outperformed in 2021.

What happens when a REIT sells a property?

When a REIT sells real estate assets and makes a profit, capital gains distributions are made. These distributions, unlike conventional dividends, are considered like any other capital gain and are subject to preferential rates.

What is the maximum loss when investing in REITs?

A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a firm that produces and owns real estate to generate income. Some REITs are traded on the exchange, while others are not. Investors that invest in REITs are indirectly investing in the company’s real estate. Investing in REITs typically grants the investor voting rights, similar to ordinary shares of a firm.

REITs, unlike other real estate firms, do not construct real estate with the intention of reselling it. REITs hold or lease real estate and, as a result, distribute rental income to investors. Dividend-based income is what it’s termed. Office buildings, hotels, shopping centers, and houses, as well as data centers and cell towers, are examples of these properties. In typical market conditions, the income stream from a REIT investment can also be regarded somewhat stable because rents are usually stable.

Requirements for REITs

A corporation must meet specific criteria in order to be classified as a REIT. These requirements specify, for example, how a REIT should be run, what percentage of its assets should be real estate, and how much of its taxable revenue should be given to investors in the form of dividends. These percentages vary according on the REIT’s country of origin.

Typical examples of some of these provisions are:

  • The majority of REITs’ taxable income must be distributed to shareholders. Typically, roughly 90% of the total must be distributed.
  • Real estate must account for at least a specified percentage of the assets. This is usually around 75% of the time.
  • Rent or sale of real estate, as well as interest on mortgages, must account for at least a portion of its gross income. This is usually around 75% of the time.
  • A minimal number of people must own the beneficial ownership. A REIT may be required to have at least 100 shareholders if this is the case. This must be the case for at least 335 days in a taxable year, for example.

Different types of REITs

REITs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These distinctions can be found in the manner in which investors can invest in them or in the type of product that a REIT specializes in.

A REIT does not have to be publicly traded, as previously stated. There are three different types of classifications:

  • REITs that are publicly traded can be bought and sold on major stock markets such as the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Because many REITs are traded on traditional stock markets, they have a higher level of liquidity than investing directly in real estate. This means that investors will be able to acquire and sell REIT shares more readily on the exchange.
  • Non-exchange traded REITs are available to investors but do not trade on major exchanges.
  • Private REITs: These REITs are not traded on a stock exchange and are not open to all investors. These private REITs can only be invested in by specified people who are usually nominated by the REIT’s Board of Directors.

REITs can hold a variety of assets, including real estate, mortgages, and other financial instruments. The following are some instances of specialized REITs:

Mortgage REITs

Mortgage REITs, as you might expect, invest in mortgages. mREITs are another name for them. They may employ mortgages or loans directly or indirectly through mortgage-backed securities (MBSs).

Residential REITs

Residential REITs are typically focused on residential real estate. Apartment complexes or single-family rental properties are examples of this. This can be narrowed even further; for example, some REITs specialize primarily in student housing or specific neighborhoods.

Diversified REITs

REITs can be diversified, unlike the very particular REITs discussed in the previous types. A REIT must own a mix of two or more types of properties to fall into this category. This could be a mix of shopping centers and office buildings, for example.


REIT dividends are subject to a different withholding tax than ordinary share distributions, and are frequently taxed more harshly. Before investing in a REIT, you should review the REIT’s investor relations page or speak with a local tax professional. The applicable tax will be determined by the type of distribution and the investor’s tax residency.

What are the risks and rewards of investing in REITs?

Investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs) can be profitable, but it is not without risk. DEGIRO is up forward and honest about the dangers that come with investing. The investor relations website of a REIT normally contains information on the REIT’s investment portfolio. Before investing in a REIT, it is a good idea to read the investor relations page. The maximum loss when investing in a REIT is equal to the total amount invested.

Regular income distributions and a potential price increase are two ways an investor might profit from a REIT investment. Dividends, rather than price appreciation, account for the majority of REIT returns. Capital appreciation is generally low because most income is transferred to shareholders. This, however, is not assured.

This material is not intended to be used as investment advice, and it does not make any recommendations. Investing entails taking risks. Your deposit may be lost (in whole or in part). We recommend that you only invest in financial products that are appropriate for your level of knowledge and experience.

How often do REITs fail?

Historically, buying REITs following a market crisis has always been a smart move, and we have little doubt that this time will be no different. REITs, on the other hand, aren’t “ideal investments.” In truth, there are numerous ways for a REIT investor to lose money. Over the last 20 years, REITs have returned 15% a year, according to NAREIT.

Are REIT dividends taxed as ordinary income?

Dividend payments are assigned to ordinary income, capital gains, and return of capital for tax reasons for REITs, each of which may be taxed at a different rate. Early in the year, all public firms, including REITs, must furnish shareholders with information indicating how the prior year’s dividends should be allocated for tax purposes. The Industry Data section contains a historical record of the allocation of REIT distributions between regular income, return of capital, and capital gains.

The majority of REIT dividends are taxed as ordinary income up to a maximum rate of 37% (returning to 39.6% in 2026), plus a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income. Through December 31, 2025, taxpayers can deduct 20% of their combined qualifying business income, which includes Qualified REIT Dividends. When the 20% deduction is taken into account, the highest effective tax rate on Qualified REIT Dividends is normally 29.6%.

REIT dividends, on the other hand, will be taxed at a lower rate in the following situations:

  • When a REIT makes a capital gains distribution (tax rate of up to 20% plus a 3.8 percent surtax) or a return of capital dividend (tax rate of up to 20% plus a 3.8 percent surtax);
  • When a REIT distributes dividends received from a taxable REIT subsidiary or other corporation (20% maximum tax rate plus 3.8 percent surtax); and when a REIT distributes dividends received from a taxable REIT subsidiary or other corporation (20% maximum tax rate plus 3.8 percent surtax); and when a REIT distributes dividends received from
  • When allowed, a REIT pays corporation taxes and keeps the profits (20 percent maximum tax rate, plus the 3.8 percent surtax).

Furthermore, the maximum capital gains rate of 20% (plus the 3.8 percent surtax) applies to the sale of REIT stock in general.

The withholding tax rate on REIT ordinary dividends paid to non-US investors is depicted in this graph.