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Long-term, direct property has lost out to stocks, especially once you consider the net fees like tax and maintenance, which can be huge. In the UK, to give one example, the costs of owning a property are:
0%-12% to buy
1%-2% per year to maintain on average
28% on capital gains which is higher than stocks and ETFs and for that matter 28% higher than holding stocks in a tax-free ISA
The UK might be an extreme case, and in some countries like the US, property can be tax-efficient. Moreover, you can get lucky with properties.
I have ran out of the number of people who have got in the right market, at the right time.
Yet long-term, the markets tend to outperform as per the graph below:
We also have to consider that with Covid and a work-from-home trend, real estate is looking riskier than before.
REITS, in comparison, can offer great diversification. It is property.....without the hassles, costs and often excessive taxes.