The REIT Way to Hook a 5% Dividend Yield

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bullish real estate investment trust investors fishing on the sidelines should be moving closer to landing a big REIT play, especially the 5% dividend species. The REIT sector looks a lot better now after a 10% selloff that has driven up dividend yields and made shares more enticing for income investors.

With the average equity REIT dividend around 3.5%, there are plenty of options -- over 134 today -- where a dividend investors can fish. The more juicy REITs, however, can be found in the deeper waters where investors can now find dividend yields of over 5%.

It was just a few weeks ago that we saw shares of most equity REITs climbing to levels where a 5% dividend was not attainable. Now, however, some of the outliers can be found swimming closer to shallow waters where dividends are much easier to hunt.

Looking for a 5% dividend yield hasn't been a picnic, but the REIT sector is producing some high-quality alternatives. In the health-care sector, some REITs yield 5%, including Healthcare Trust of America ( HTA) and Omega Healthcare Investors ( OHI).

In the retail sector, some attractive names include American Realty Capital Properties ( ARCP), Inland Retail Corporation ( IRC), Agree Realty ( ADC) and Realty Income ( O).

In the industrial sector, there are two solid players: WP Carey ( WPC) and Chambers Street Group ( CSG).

Specialty REITs Digital Realty ( DLR) and Campus Crest ( CCG) are both part of the 5%-plus dividend family.

Because REITs must pay out almost all of their taxable income to shareholders, investors have historically looked to REITs for reliable and significant dividends -- typically four times higher than those of other stocks on average.

The industry's dividend yields have produced a steady stream of income through a variety of market conditions. Albert Einstein said, "Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it."

Maybe that's why I think REITs are like the ninth wonder of the world. The compounding effect for the dividend investor has the ability to turn a small amount of money into a substantial sum, and the longer the compounding effect, the more profits you earn over time.

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