Perhaps the easiest option to consider is one of the 20 or so collective funds that invest in the sector. You really do need to do your research and understand exactly what you're investing in. What you'll find is that some funds invest directly in property whilst others invest in the shares of property companies (with the latter being more volatile).
On 1 January 2007 there will be another way to invest. Real Estate Investment Trusts will be launched and about 15 property companies (such as FTSE 100 company Land Securities) are expected to convert to REIT status. REITs will be similar to funds that currently invest directly in property, with sizeable portfolios of assets in the UK and, for some, worldwide.
But why are REITs being introduced?
The main reason is that there will be generous tax breaks for the property companies.
REITs will not have to pay income or capital gains tax on the returns produced by their property portfolios, so long as they distribute most of their profits to shareholders via dividends.
Investment Property Databank reports that property has produced average annual returns of 15% over the past 5 years, although Aberdeen Asset Management expects gains to fall back to 4-5% pa over the next few years.
So, should you consider investing in commercial property?
The simple answer is yes, as long as you approach it the right way.
The first step is to pool together all your current investments, including pension funds, PEPs, ISAs and any other equity based holdings.
You then need to analyse where your money is currently being invested. What you'll probably find, especially if you've purchased a number of investments over the years, is that your money is invested in a number of funds. You may even have money in a property fund already.
The next step is to organise your ‘asset alloaction’. What this basically entails is making sure your investments are split (percentage wise) in line with your risk tolerance and the potential return that you are trying to achieve.
The main asset classes are Property, Equities (Shares), Cash and Bonds.
So, for example, if you are happy to assume more risk with your investments you may have an asset allocation that looks something like this:
Bonds - 17%
Property - 10%
Equities - 70%
Cash - 3%
The equities would be spread across large and small capitalised shares, UK, International and Emerging Markets.
The final step would be to choose the appropriate tax wrappers (ISAs, pensions etc). If you already have a number of investments it IS possible to alter the underlying investments whilst maintaining the tax wrapper.
The Financial Tips Bottom Line
Some investors totally ignore (or are not aware of) asset allocation. After all, wouldn't it be strange if you were buying a new car but you weren't allowed to know the size of engine, colour, features etc.
They forget to look ‘under the bonnet’ and make decisions without all the facts at hand.
When you're next investing (which could be next week if you're investing on a monthly basis) make sure you look at all the facts, set up your asset allocation and increase your chances of a successful ‘investment experience’.
Ray Prince is an Independent Financial Planner with Rutherford Wilkinson plc, and helps UK Resident Doctors and Dentists get the best deals on mortgages, protection and investments, as well as helping them achieve their financial objectives. Just visit http://www.medicaldentalfs.com to get your free retirement guide.
Rutherford Wilkinson plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.