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Investors pour back into property funds

Lucinda Beeman
Written By:
Lucinda Beeman

Property funds saw their strongest month of inflow since December 2009 in May, according to the Investment Management Association (IMA).

Monthly fund sales figures from the IMA revealed that while equities continued to be the best-selling asset class, with net retail sales of £558m, property placed second with £491m. The property sector hasn’t attracted equivalent flows since December 2009, when net retail sales reached £519m.

Jason Hollands, managing director at Bestinvest, said: “In our view this is an outcome of the desperate search for income.”

According to Hollands yields have been low across many asset classes – particularly fixed income – as a result of the monetary policy of recent years. 

He added: “Additionally, many investors will have undoubtedly been attracted by the strong uplift in capital values seen in the UK commercial property market over the last year as the economy has recovered and occupancy rates have improved in London and the South East.”

Yet Hollands questions whether returns in the property sector – forecasted by some managers to be in the region of 12-14 per cent in 2014 – will survive potential interest rate rises and policy tightening.

He said: “Like the residential property market, UK commercial property has benefitted from ultra-accommodative policies which have encouraged bank lending into the property sector – we would argue at the expense of allocating capital to other parts of the economy.

“Once interest rates start to rise, as they ultimately will, this could make for an altogether tougher environment as covenants – or restrictions on how land can be used – generally remain weak and occupancy rates in the UK regions have yet to match the recovery in the South of England.”

According to the IMA’s figures the UK Equity Income sector remained popular with £270m in sales, making it the second-most subscribed sector in May 2014. The Global sector came third with £248m.

Overall funds under management have increased year-on-year from £742bn in May 2013 to £801bn in May 2014. Net retail sales decreased from £2.1bn to £1.9bn over the same time period.