A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a firm that acquires, owns, and operates income-producing commercial real estate, or, in the case of mortgage REITs, commercial mortgages. REITs may be either publicly traded or non-traded, private REITs, depending on the individual company. CMBS loans and REITs have a complex relationship; on one hand, traditional REITs use CMBS loans to finance their property investments, while certain mortgage REITs originate or purchase commercial loans in order to generate profits for investors. So, while real estate REITs can be a consumer of conduit loans, commercial mortgage REITs can be a competitor to CMBS lenders. REITs may also invest directly in CMBS— meaning that they can also take the role of an investor. While the average CMBS investor may never have to deal with REITs, it is still important to understand them and their role in the commercial real estate industry.