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Reits of passage

Campaign chairman Patrick Sumner is spreading the word on Reits and is confident IFAs will take up the products

The man responsible for promoting Reits to UK investors says he is confident that IFAs will take to the products.

Patrick Sumner, chairman of the new Reits and Quoted Property Companies Group leading the campaign known as Reita, is adamant that advisers will recommend the vehicles to their clients because of the diversification benefits they offer. He also believes Reits will have liquidity advantages over some other property investment vehicles.

Sumner, who is head of property equities at Henderson Global Investors, admits that it is difficult to know exactly what commission structures providers will adopt to encourage advisers to sell Reits over property unit trusts but he expects individual managers to negotiate rates with IFAs.

He says the campaign, supported by website Reita.org, was a response to the lack of a coherent approach to raising awareness of Reits in the UK.

Reita was designed to present a neutral platform for the retail market to access information on the Reit market and help identify providers and funds.

Sumner says it is not yet clear whether there is a role for Reita over the longer term or if it is purely a measure to garner initial interest.

He says: “There was a lot of interest in Reits but no one was actually doing anything in the UK in terms of harnessing distribution. There was plenty of activity in Europe and the Asian markets but not in the UK.

“None of the people driving Reits was thinking in a joined-up fashion. There was the property industry at one end but no one talking in IFA language, no one that understood how the man on the street manages his money. I think there might be a role for Reita longer term but the type of role it fulfils might evolve.”

Sumner says he is also keen to promote property as an investment in its own right and strip away the emotional attachment that people have often built when investing in buy to let.

He says: “People need to get over the psychology attached to property. I think a lot of people in the UK rushed into buy to let so now there is an oversupply and the market stopped getting the rents it was used to. People like the fact that they can go and visit their rental properties. It has become more of a hobby for many people.”

Sumner says the UK is able to learn from the experience of the Australian and American Reits markets because the aspirations and behaviour of private investors and the dynamic of the property markets tend to be the same regardless of geography.

He says the UK market can expect a 3.5 per cent yield while the US usually sees 4 per cent in its Reit funds, which is a typical difference in return between the two regions.

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