As the stock market continues its volatile ride, many investors are on the hunt for stocks that can offer stability during uncertain times. Dividend stocks can be fantastic buys when the market is down because lower share prices increase their yields -- presuming that they can keep their payouts up at their previous rates. And some of the most reliable dividend stocks are real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Since REITs are legally required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income in the form of dividends each year, investors can often earn a higher return with them, and benefit from a fairly steady stream of payout increases. SL Green (SLG 0.04%) and Federal Realty Trust (FRT 0.26%), in particular, are known for being great dividend payers, and both are down more than 17% so far in 2022. Here's why you may want to put these stocks on your buy list.

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The case for SL Green

The pandemic continues to weigh heavily on the office industry as more and more employers shift to hybrid work models. Manhattan's real estate sector, in particular, is feeling the pinch: Less than 8% of office workers there are back to being on-site five days a week. This isn't exactly welcome news to SL Green, a REIT that specializes in the ownership and leasing of high-end office and retail space in Manhattan, but management nonetheless seems optimistic about the opportunities ahead.

The company understands the changing landscape of work, and is ready to pivot to meet employers' new needs by delivering state-of-the-art amenities and building features through strategic renovations and acquisitions. SL Green is also looking at branching into multifamily housing while amping up its leasing activity to clients within the life sciences industry, a new heavyweight tenant in New York City. While the REIT's occupancy levels have steadily fallen since Q1 2020, the company forecasts they will rise to 94% by the end of 2022.

The uncertainty surrounding Manhattan's office leasing industry has pushed SL Green's share price down by 26% year to date, which in turn has bumped its dividend yield up to a generous 6.1%. The company has raised its dividend annually for the past 11 years, even during the pandemic. Its payout ratio is 56% -- a very safe ratio that ensures the company will be able to maintain those payouts (and likely keep increasing them) well into the future. Plus, SL Green distributes its dividends monthly, which is an added treat for investors seeking consistent income. 

Federal Realty Trust 

Federal Realty Trust is a retail REIT that owns, operates, and leases 104 high-end open-air shopping centers in affluent suburban markets around nine major metropolitan areas in the U.S. It's one of the most reliable and trusted dividend stocks, having earned the prestigious title of Dividend King after increasing its dividend payments annually for 54 consecutive years.

While there were certainly short-term headwinds for the REIT to battle as a result of the pandemic, 2022 is shaping up to be a year of monumental recovery. Federal Realty Trust's occupancy levels are at 91.2%, while its portfolio is 93.7% leased. Revenues have grown by 6.68% over the past three years, while funds from operations -- the most commonly used metric for assessing a REIT's profitability -- rose by 4.56%. These aren't monumental numbers for growth, but they are a testament to the company's ability to add value even during challenging times.

Management sees the long-term challenges that are in store for retail and is adjusting to meet the market's changing needs while still adding value for shareholders. It's expanding its footprint in life sciences office space while adding multifamily housing to its portfolio. It also has a robust redevelopment program to help its properties stay relevant and compete with newer outdoor centers. It also benefits from being well-positioned financially, with $1.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents, no debt maturities until 2023, and a healthy dividend payout ratio of 71%. While its share price had just about recovered from its early 2020 crash as of the start of 2022, it has been trending downward since then, and is now off by 20% year to date. But for income-focused investors, that's a benefit, as the share price decline boosted Federal Realty Trust's dividend yield to its current 3.8%.