Retail investors return to UK property

Increased interest from collective investment schemes that invest in UK commercial property has seen retail investors close the gap on the institutions and overseas investors as the largest owners of UK commercial property in 2012, according to a new report by the Property Industry Alliance.

The report reveals that the UK institutions – insurance companies and pensions funds – and overseas investors share of the £569bn UK commercial property market fell 1 per cent each to 22 per cent each in 2012.

However, collective invest schemes – such as managed funds and property unit trusts – saw their share increase 2 per cent to 20 per cent of the market, up 127% since 2003. Most of the capital invested in UK commercial property is used to provide pensions and savings for UK households.

Sir Robert Finch, Chairman of the Property Industry Alliance, said: “While overseas investors remain on course to become the single largest owners of UK commercial property, the appetite shown by small institutional and retail investors is a real boost to the industry, as well as highlighting a shift in personal savings habits towards unit trusts.”

Property Industry Alliance Data Report also reveals:

  • Having accounted for less than a fifth of retail in 1993, the value of out-of-town retail property is now comparable to that in towns;
  • The commercial property industry has been amongst the worst affected by the recession, shedding 200 thousand jobs since December 2008 and seeing a full percentage point drop in its share of national GDP;
  • As a business cost rent remains very low relative to staff costs at 7 per cent and 5 per cent of office and retail space respectively;
  • Approximately 15 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions are directly and indirectly related to commercial buildings.