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A number of fund management companies have suspended trading on their physical property funds. Standard Life Investments suspended trading on its UK Real Estate fund on Monday 4th July 2016. Trading on Aviva Investments Property Trust and M&G Property Portfolio was suspended the following day and trading on Threadneedle UK Property and the Elite Rated Henderson UK Property fund was suspended today.
During the run up to the EU referendum, and post the result, the numbers of investors redeeming their holdings in UK physical property funds increased quite significantly, as uncertainty over the outlook for the UK property market became more of a concern.
When the number of investors selling their holdings in a physical property fund far outnumbers those buying, it can be a problem because the managers cannot sell their assets quickly enough to raise cash to meet investor redemptions.
The funds’ cash reserves have fallen as redemptions have been met. Therefore, to protect existing investors in the funds and to prevent the fund managers from being forced to sell their property at low prices, these companies have decided to suspend trading on their property funds. This means investors cannot buy or sell these fund at the moment.
This is yet to be determined, but the funds will stay closed for a minimum of 28 days. The funds will now be valued weekly.
There is a possibility that more UK physical property funds may follow suit and suspend trading in the near future.
There should not be an issue if you are a long-term investor. Property funds will continue to pay out income if you are in the income share class, regardless of whether they are closed or not. Property remains a good diversifier in a wider portfolio and the funds will re-open at some point.
You should also be aware that most property funds have already had a ‘fair value adjustment’ of around 5% since the Brexit vote. Most funds have also moved from offer to bid pricing, resulting in a further 5% downward move in price. If you sell now, you will crystallise this loss. However, it is of course possible that values could fall further.