According to NAREIT, “real estate investment trusts,” or REITs, own more than $3 trillion of U.S. real estate assets. With REITs having survived (and, in some respects, thrived) under recent tax reform, that number likely will rise in the ensuing decade. But what does it mean that REITs hold so much real estate? In part, it means owning and operating real estate through the prism of Section 856 et seq of the Internal Revenue Code, a complex web of tax laws enacted in 1960 to create the REIT and facilitate real estate investment by the public. At times a boon for the tax lawyer and a frustration for the real estate investor, such laws help shape the way real estate is owned and operated, like it or not. In this newsletter, we reflect on such laws and their current influence on the transactions and behavior of the real estate and mortgage investment communities, with the goal of shedding some light on their purpose and application. Because sometimes you want to say WTF, but instead should say What the REIT?! We hope you enjoy.