For some time we have been blogging about non-traded REITS (and the real risks associated with investing in these complex investment vehicles. Many investors are familiar with exchange traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”). Pursuant to federal law, these companies which own and typically operate income-producing real estate, are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to investors in the form of dividends. Because REITs pay out such a high percentage of their taxable income as dividends, these companies have attracted numerous retail investors (including pensioners and other retirees) seeking to augment their income stream.
While an appropriate allocation of REITs in a retail investment portfolio may well be suitable and warranted in order to achieve diversification and earn decent income, non-traded REITs are an altogether different and often risky investment vehicle. The primary risks associated with non-traded REITs include: (1) a lack of liquidity – non-traded REITs do not trade on an exchange, and therefore, any secondary market for resale will be restricted; (2) pricing inefficiency – in lockstep with their lack of liquidity, investors in non-traded REITs may find that the price offered for share redemption is substantially lower than the price at which shares were initially purchased; (3) high up-front fees – compounding the risk with non-traded REITs are the often steep up-front fees charged investors (as high as 10% for selling compensation) simply to buy in and purchase shares; and (4) confusion over source of income – often, investors in non-traded REITs are unaware that dividend income may actually include return of capital (including possible the proceeds from sale of shares to other, later investors).
THE NEW HAMPSHIRE BUREAU OF SECURITIES REGULATION PROCEEDING AGAINST LPL FINANCIAL