It's been a hard year for investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and broader S&P 500 are down 12.7% and 19.4%, respectively. Some individual stocks have fallen as much as 80% or more this year. With talk of a recession starting, the volatility is unlikely to end anytime soon.

While it's certainly no fun to endure a bear market, savvy investors know it can present fantastic buying opportunities. Income investors, in particular, have a chance to take advantage since dividend yields tend to have an inverse relationship with pricing.

Three real estate investment trusts (REITs) that Motley Fool contributors believe are great high-yield dividend stocks to buy right now are National Retail Properties (NNN 0.07%), Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR 0.33%), and Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (HASI -0.51%). All three are down 14% or more despite each maintaining solid business performance as of late.

Here's a closer look at each company and why income investors may want to buy them on the dip.

Three decades of dividend growth 

Liz Brumer-Smith (National Retail Properties): National Retail Properties Trust is a net-lease REIT that owns and leases single-tenant retail properties. Net-lease REITs may be a bit boring, but it is a super-reliable business model that is resilient during economic downturns. Triple net leases, which National Retail Properties uses, pass financial responsibilities of the property like taxes, repairs, and insurance to the tenant, and many of the leases involve a 10- to 20-year lease term (often with yearly rent escalators built into the terms).

National Retail Properties uses a unique business model focusing on mid-range tenants in high-traffic metropolitan areas, providing favorable pricing with growth opportunities. These properties tend to be single-tenant retail, which has a higher tenant retention rate due to the nature of the industry. Over the last 15 years, roughly 83% of the company's tenants chose to renew their leases rather than close up shop or move locations.

The stock is down around 14.5% largely due to general market volatility but also because of growing concern over a recession's impact on retail spending. While retail spending wouldn't be great for any retail-focused company, the REIT is in a strong position to overcome a downturn. It's got no major debt maturities until 2024, is 99.1% occupied, and has plenty of liquidity to float operations if some tenants stop paying.

National Retail Properties Trust currently pays a dividend yield of 5.2% while boasting an incredible track record of 33 consecutive years of dividend increases. Even in light of volatility, its top-notch balance sheet, low dividend payout ratio, and strong performance across its roughly 3,300 retail properties across 48 states puts it in a tremendous position to maintain healthy performance in the future.

Down but not out

Mike Price (Innovative Industrial Properties): While the stock price of many REITs and growth stocks fell this year because they were caught in the tide of interest rate fears and the market's general drop, Innovative Industrial fell for good reason.

The stock first dealt with a highly publicized short report earlier this year, which detailed its issues with lease concentrations among other things, and then faced the loss of a top tenant. Thanks to those strikes (and interest rates and the market falling in general, of course), the stock is down nearly 62% year to date. Does that drop mean investors should stay away? Or does it mean a long-overvalued growth stock is finally in buy territory?

Innovative Industrial Properties finances cannabis grow companies. It does this by purchasing the real estate they occupy and leasing it back to them. This is known as a sale-leaseback transaction. Sale-leasebacks allow businesses to access the capital invested in their real estate and use it to grow, without having to move locations.

Innovative Industrial was founded in 2016 to profit from this niche type of financing and turn that profit into big dividends (the yield is 6.75%). In that time, it has invested $2.4 billion of total capital, purchased 110 properties, and accelerated tenant growth each year. The stock is up roughly 426% since 2017 despite its recent drop; at its peak in 2021, it was up almost 1,500%.

It's true that the company has tenant concentration issues -- 89% of its capital is invested in the buildings of its top 15 tenants. But this is because it's focusing on a nascent industry, one that isn't even legal federally. An investment in Innovative Industrial is an investment in the future legalization of cannabis. When and if that happens, the REIT should find plenty of tenants to diversify its portfolio. If it isn't legalized, the REIT has a limited ceiling regardless of concentration.

As far as valuation goes, the REIT trades for 10.35 times sales, and its five-year average is 30.43 times. It may never reach that peak level of valuation again, but as long as it keeps growing and keeps paying big dividends, the stock will likely at least track revenue growth.

A long history of generating the green

Kristi Waterworth (Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital): There are few things in this world that are inevitable. Usually, it's death and taxes that we're talking about, but another inevitable thing we will see is the ubiquitous use of renewable energy, like solar and wind. That's why a dividend stock like Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital is such a potential bargain.

What the company does is simple: It leases ground for sustainable energy projects and provides funding for others. The majority of its income comes from investments in large-scale energy projects, from both the private and public sectors, with an average transaction size of about $11 million that makes up a $3.9 billion portfolio.

Despite the rare loss due to an uncollectible balance, the company has been very conservative when issuing notes, generally taking a preferred, super senior, or senior debt position in its various project funding endeavors. This essentially sets it up for a guaranteed payback if a project goes south.

Hannon Armstrong stock is trading at about 60% less than its value a year ago, despite having an increasing dividend and skyrocketing dividend yield (6.1%). Dividends have grown steadily without interruption since the first quarterly payout in August 2013. The most recent payout of $0.375 per share is a 575% increase in just nine years.

Just like solar is unstoppable, this specialty REIT is only getting started in a world starving for more energy options.