Canada is filled with REITs that offer a few massive advantages to individual investors, at least compared to buying their own rental property.
A REIT’s portfolio benefits from both professional management and economies of scale. One person can easily manage a dozens of properties, as real estate is mostly a hands-off investment. This is much more efficient than individual landlords managing a property or two.
Then there’s the built in diversification, both geographically and among different asset classes. Buying a large REIT gives an investor access to a portfolio of properties spanning Canada, and asset classes like retail, commercial, or industrial property. Most individual landlords don’t have the capital or expertise to enter those markets.
These advantages make REITs a fantastic investment vehicle, especially for those investors looking for gobs of passive income.
Let’s take a closer look at three of Canada’s top REITs, including one that yields an eye-popping 8.9%.
RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:REI.UN) spent years as the largest REIT in Canada, although it has recently lost that crown. Still, the company is a behemoth, with some $14 billion worth of assets spread out among 233 different retail complexes primarily located in Canada’s six largest urban markets. In total, RioCan has more than 38 million square feet of gross leasable area.
RioCan has been busy of late transforming its portfolio. First it punted its U.S. assets, properties picked up for a song in 2009. Then it has sold off locations in smaller Canadian markets. Now it plans various redevelopment projects for existing property, turning retail-only space into larger complexes that combine stores with either apartments or offices.
This development program is no small task, either. Over the next decade or so, RioCan plans to add some 22 million square feet of space, including 4,500 apartment suites. Current projects include eCentral, a 436-unit condo building with retail space in the bottom located in Downtown Toronto, and Frontier, a 23-story condo development in Ottawa that replaced a struggling fashion retailer adjacent to Ottawa’s Gloucester Silver City Shopping Centre.
RioCan shares currently yield 5.7%.
H&R Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:HR.UN) is also one of Canada’s largest REITs, with assets totaling some $15 billion and 42 million square feet of gross leasable area. H&R is also one of Canada’s most diverse REITs, owning office towers, retail space, industrial buildings, and, most recently, residential apartments.
Recently the company’s focus has been expanding into the United States. It owns a 33.6% stake in Echo, which owns grocery-anchored retail space in Pennsylvania and Ohio. It also has acquired some two million square feet of office space across the U.S. as well as more than 6,000 apartment units in the country, focusing primarily on Florida and Texas. Investors should expect more growth in this part of H&R’s business.
In the meantime, the company pays investors a fantastic yield of just over 6%.
Slate Retail REIT (TSX:SRT.UN) owns grocery-anchored retail real estate in the United States. Its portfolio comprises 85 different locations spanning more than 10 million square feet of gross leasable area.
The company focuses on what it calls “secondary markets,” such as Charlotte, Jacksonville, and Littleton — locations that offer terrific yields because of decreased competition. Focusing on these smaller locations means there are fewer buyers when assets come to market, which is a distinct advantage for Slate.
Slate is one of the cheapest REITs on the TSX today. Slate’s units trade at approximately eight times 2018’s funds from operations and well under their net asset value of $15.44. Perhaps investors are starting to notice how cheap shares are; the stock has increased by approximately 8% since January 1.
Slate pays one of the best dividends in the REIT sector today, boasting an 8.9% yield. The distribution has increased each year since the REIT’s 2015 IPO and the payout ratio checks in at under 70% of funds from operations.