A Private REIT versus a Public REIT

A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a firm that owns income-producing real estate, for the purpose of earning a return on the money they used to purchase the properties. REITs can own a broad range of property types from residential apartments and homes to commercial office buildings, warehouses and hotels to even hospitals and shopping malls. A important distinction between REITs is those that are public and those that are private.

Public REITs are traded on public stock exchanges, like the TSX or NYSE, and are required to issue a prospectus. Private REITs are not publicly traded on an exchange, and do not issue a prospectus, but an Offering Memorandum instead. Both a prospectus and Offering Memorandum highlight the firm's investment structure, properties, regulations, and any information important for an investor to make an informed decision.

The fact that private REITs are not listed on a stock exchange, translates to important differences for investors. A private REIT's return is based upon the value of the underlying real estate, while the return an investor in a public REIT receives is based upon the traded market price. Public REITs are generally more volatile since investors can push prices up and down quickly without the value of the underlying real estate changing.

During the market crash of 2008, public REITs saw their values decline considerably, some by up to 70%, as investors raced to exit the market. Private REITs did not encounter such volatility and many remained profitable through the recession.

Another important difference is that private REITs are less liquid. Some private REITs require fixed investment periods, while with public REITs investors can sell their shares whenever they please.

Phoenix Capital Fund-US is a private REIT that is not exposed to the volatility of the stock market.