Investing in REITs involves buying shares of a real estate company. These companies almost always buy and operate commercial* properties and charge significant management fees. Some are private and have no liquidity; others are public with stock prices highly correlated to the stock market. The investor has no ability to choose the specific assets. In that sense, an analogy to stocks is that a REIT is like a mutual fund (which some prefer), and Vessel’s investments is like picking stocks (which some prefer). Because both REITs’s stock prices and Vessel investments’ terms are determined by free market forces, we can’t say that one or the other is better; they are different and serve different purposes.
* The vast majority of REITs focus on commercial properties such as malls, storage facilities, apartment complexes and office buildings. One exception is publicly-traded Invitation Homes, which owns around 80,000 single-family rentals, amounting to 0.1% of the market. Vessel can theoretically open up the other 99.9% of homes to investors without having actually buy let alone operate each property.