But his ancient words of wisdom could easily sum up an argument being put forward by advocates of real estate investment trusts (Reits) who believe their

Do real estate investment trusts have to get 95% of their income directly from real estate?

No. to qualify as a REIT status, the entity must invest at least 75% of its total assets in real estate, generate at least 75% of gross income from rents of real estate, mortgage interest or sales of property and payout at least 90% of its taxable income as dividends to shareholders. There are some additional legal and entity issues as well to qualify.