Investing in residential real estate with REITs
A REIT, short for real estate investment trust, is a company that buys and manages real estate, and distributes the income it generates to shareholders. Investing in REITs makes you a landlord without having to worry about snow removal, broken appliances, and midnight plumbing emergencies. By giving you exposure to different properties in different locations, REIT investors also enjoy the benefits of diversification.
There are dozens of publicly traded REITs in Canada. Each REIT has an area of focus – some buy commercial real estate, while others focus on office buildings or retirement homes. REITs allow you to invest in just about any form of real estate you could imagine, including some that would be prohibitively expensive to invest in as an individual.
The focus of this article is REITs that invest in residential apartments. These REITs are often more focused on growth than generating income, which typically results in a lower yield and higher share price appreciation than something like commercial real estate.
There are seven publicly traded apartment REITs on the TSX. This article will give a brief overview of each of them.
Summary: comparison of all publicly traded residential apartment REITs in Canada
|Company||Ticker||Market Cap ($B)||Yield (%)||Rental Unit Locations|
|Canadian Apartment Properties||CAR.UN||8.77||2.52||Canada-wide (excluding the territories, Manitoba and Newfoundland), with international exposure to the Netherlands and Ireland|
|Boardwalk||BEI.UN||2.10||2.20||Focused in Alberta, with exposure to Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec|
|InterRent||IIP.UN||1.90||1.84||Ottawa-Gatineau, Greater Toronto and Montreal, with exposure to other urban centers in Ontario|
|Killam Properties||KMP.UN||1.82||3.32||Atlantic Canada, Alberta and Ontario|
|Northview||NVU.UN||1.77||5.55||Canada-wide (excluding Manitoba, PEI and the Yukon), with significant exposure to northern Canada|
|Morguard North America||MRG.UN||0.78||3.41||Throughout the United States and Ontario|
|Minto Apartment||MI.UN||0.56||1.96||Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton|
Last updated October 27th, 2019.
Canadian Apartment Properties REIT (CAR.UN)
Canadian Apartment Properties REIT is a growth-oriented investment trust owning interests in multi-unit residential complexes, including apartment buildings, townhomes and manufactured home communities, principally located in or near major urban centres across Canada.CAP REIT’s 2018 annual report
Canadian Apartment Properties REIT is by far the largest apartment REIT in Canada, with a market cap pushing $9 billion. Their growth-focused portfolio is diversified across Canada, with international exposure to the Netherlands and Ireland, which together represent around 10% of their total rental units.
Boardwalk REIT (BEI.UN)
Boardwalk REIT strives to provide Canada’s friendliest communities and currently owns and operates more than 200 communities with over 33,000 residential units.Boardwalk REIT’s 2018 annual report
Boardwalk REIT focuses on large shared apartment buildings that they refer to as ‘Boardwalk communities.’ These buildings range from basic to luxurious, and include amenities like gyms and pools.
Around 70% of their units are located in Alberta and Saskatchewan, so the decline in oil prices has negatively affected their performance in recent years.
InterRent REIT (IIP.UN)
The Trust is a growth-oriented real estate investment trust engaged in increasing Unitholder value through the acquisition, ownership, management and repositioning of strategically located, income producing, multi-residential properties.InterRent REIT’s 2018 annual report
InterRent REIT is interesting in that they are overwhelmingly focused in just three cities: the NCR, GTA, and Montreal. Their shares have been on an incredible run since the 2008 financial crisis, appreciating over 1300% without dividend reinvestment, largely due to the surge in housing prices in Toronto.
Killam Apartment REIT (KMP.UN)
Killam Apartment REIT (Killam) is a growth-oriented real estate investment trust owning, operating and developing multi-family apartments and manufactured home communities (MHCs). Killam’s real estate portfolio is located in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Alberta.Killam Apartment REIT’s 2018 annual report
Killam Apartment REIT is the only REIT on this list that is focused in Atlantic Canada, where over 70% of their rental units are located. They also have a small amount of exposure to commercial real estate.
Northview Apartment REIT (NVU.UN)
Northview Apartment Real Estate Investment Trust is one of Canada’s largest publicly traded multi-family REITs with a portfolio of approximately 27,000 residential suites and 1.2 million square feet of commercial space in more than 60 markets across eight provinces and two territories.Northview Apartment REIT’s 2018 annual report
Northview Apartment REIT has been another great performer since its IPO in 2015. They’ve benefited tremendously from their properties in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, where the average monthly rent of their units exceeds $2,100. Northview boasts the highest yield on this list, at 5.55% as of October 27th, 2019.
Morguard North American Residential REIT (MRG.UN)
The objectives of the REIT are to: i) generate stable and growing cash distributions on a tax-efficient basis; ii) enhance the value of the REIT’s assets and maximize the long-term value of the Units through active asset and property management; and iii) expand the asset base of the REIT primarily through acquisitions and improvement of its properties through targeted and strategically deployed capital expenditures.Morguard North American Residential REIT’s 2018 Q4 report
Morguard North American Residential REIT is unique is that more than half of their rental units are located in the US. While this does provide international diversification, it also leads to currency risk and unfavourable tax treatment for profits generated in the US. Still, they’re a good choice for those seeking exposure to American residential real estate on the TSX.
Minto Apartment REIT (MI.UN)
The REIT’s operations commenced on July 2, 2018 when the REIT indirectly acquired a portfolio of 22 multi-residential rental properties, comprising an aggregate of 4,279 suites located in urban centres in Ontario and Alberta.Minto Apartment REIT’s 2018 annual report
Minto Apartment REIT is both the newest and most narrowly focused of the apartment REITs. They went public in 2018, and have delivered stellar results since then. However, the majority of their portfolio is in Ottawa, which makes them the least diverse REIT on this list.