Although if you do not have the capital for a rental property I can understand an REIT as an alternative. If you save for your own property there are stronger cash flows and by using leverage you can own a bigger asset than even if you purchased stock. However there are greater responsibilities such as property maintenance so it depends on the individual.
I have read some REIT's are paying dividends as shares instead of cash creating a dilution of share value.
Also all higher paying dividend yielding stocks will get hammered as traders realize yields are holding up these shares and not fundamentals.