apater wrote: one would hope to find a US based REIT that purchased thousands of individual homes and took on the landlord responsibilities.
You won't, for essentially the reason Buffett gave. Management and accounting overhead would be way too high. Renting out individual houses is essentially a Mom and Pop business using unpaid (and untaxed) labour, both in Canada and the US.
Another issue with US REITs in a taxable account is that return of capital distributions would be treated as income by CRA.
There is a thread on RE investing in Phoenix not too far down this forum, it has some very good information from one of our members.