Moving from the workforce to retirement is a financial and emotional transition that generally requires a shift from building a nest egg to living off of it. If you're looking to start generating dividend income, you should definitely take a look at W.P. Carey (NYSE:WPC) and Broadmark Realty Capital (NYSE:BRMK), two real estate investment trusts (REITs) that offer a high yield and lower-than-usual risk. Here's a quick look at each.

1. An oldie but a goodie

W.P. Carey was one of the first companies to build a net-lease business. Essentially, it buys single-tenant properties from companies that still want to use the assets they are selling. These clients are happy to take the REIT's cash, which they use for things like debt reduction and growth spending, and sign long-term leases with built-in annual rent hikes. W.P. Carey's average lease length is currently around 10.5 years. Making this deal even sweeter for the REIT, the new tenant is generally responsible for most of the operating costs of the property. It's a fairly low-risk and consistent business model. 

A senior couple talking to a financial planner.

Image source: Getty Images.

That helps explain how W.P. Carey has increased its dividend annually since it went public in 1998, roughly 23 years ago. You don't build a record like that by accident. However, there's more to the story that retired investors will like. One of the hallmarks of W.P. Carey's approach is diversification, which can be just as good for a company as it is for your portfolio. The REIT's rent roll is broken down between industrial (24%), warehouse (23%), office (23), retail (17%), and self storage (5%) properties, with a fairly large "other" category rounding things out. Within that list, it generates roughly 37% of its rents from outside of the United States, mostly Europe. It is easily one of the most diversified REITs an investor can buy. 

The yield, meanwhile, is a generous 6% at Monday's prices. That's over three times higher than what you'd get from an S&P 500 Index fund, and 1.4 percentage points above what industry bellwether Realty Income offers. If you like the idea of owning a well-diversified dividend payer with an incredible dividend record, W.P. Carey should be on your short list today.

2. The newbie with a different model

The next name up, Broadmark Realty, has only been public for around a year. And it's a mortgage REIT, which is an area that most investors are probably best off avoiding

But this mREIT is really in a class by itself, because it is what's known as a hard money lender. Essentially, it provides short-term loans to builders. And unlike most mortgage REITs, it doesn't use leverage to enhance its returns, so it has a debt-free balance sheet. That simple fact actually makes it one of the least risky REITs around, since companies without debt generally don't have to worry about things like bankruptcy. 

What's interesting about the hard money space is that builders are willing to pay pretty high interest rates (think 10%-plus) for loans from reliable partners. Given that over 60% of Broadmark's third-quarter loans were from repeat borrowers, it clearly qualifies as a reliable partner. And while loaning money for building might sound risky, Broadmark is a cautious lender. It estimates what it thinks a completed property will sell for, and then only lends around 60% or so of that sum. Thus a property can sell for materially less than projected and Broadmark will still come out just fine. And in a worst-case scenario where a loan defaults, Broadmark can simply step in and complete the building, salvaging its investment. 

Broadmark's yield is around 7% at Monday's prices -- low for a mortgage REIT, but generous when you consider its differentiated business model. To be fair, it cut the monthly paid dividend around 25% earlier in the year as COVID-19 led to construction delays in its portfolio. However, business is starting to get back to normal, and the company is again expanding its investments. So growth is likely from here from a REIT that is built to reward investors with a steady flow of dividends. 

Time for a deep dive

If you have entered your retirement years, or are about to, it is time to start looking at dividend-paying stocks like W.P. Carey and Broadmark. Not only do both of these REITs offer high yields, but they also have differentiated business models that should lead to regular and reliable dividends. Add in generous yields and there's a lot to like here.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.