New research by Nareit estimates the number of American households and Americans living in them that own REIT stocks directly or indirectly through mutual funds, ETFs, or target date funds. We estimate that approximately 145 million Americans, or roughly 44% of American households, are invested in REIT stocks.
The analysis begins with the 2020 Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). The SCF estimates 52.6% of households are invested in equities. This is a slight increase from the 2017 SCF estimate of 51.9%. Matching this to Census population data gives an estimated 67.7 million households with equities.
Table 1 shows the estimated number of households and Americans invested in REITs. See the research note for a full description of the methodology. The dominant form of stock ownership is through a tax deferred retirement account, most typically through an employer sponsored 401(k) plan. Using data from EBRI, row (1) shows the share of households invested in equities through vehicles in four categories, which are treated as mutually exclusive by EBRI. Row (2) shows the estimated share of assets that have REIT exposure using Morningstar Direct data.
Multiplying the share of fund ownership by the share of funds with REITs by the number of households with equities and summing across fund types yields the total number of households with REITs. As shown in row (4) of Table 1, over 56 million households (approximately 44% of households) have REITs. Finally, multiplying the number of households by the average number of people per household from Census data (2.52), yields approximately 145 million Americans in households with REIT ownership.
 Federal Reserve, Survey of Consumer Finances, Federal Reserve Bulletin, September 2020.