Are you on the lookout for a solid long-term investment that not only has the potential for attractive returns but can also help in diversifying your portfolio and minimizing the overall risk? Look no further, as UK Property Funds could be the answer to your investment goals. If you’ve ever dreamt about earning a slice of the roaring UK property market but found it intimidating or expensive to venture into, property funds offer the perfect stepping stone. They not only allow for easy and affordable investments but also provide access to strategic assets chosen by experts in the field. Intrigued? Let’s unpack the reasons why so many investors are jumping on the UK Property Funds bandwagon and how you could benefit from joining them.
1. Commercial property funds offer diversification away from equities
Commercial property funds, which invest in real estate such as industrial and retail parks, as well as office blocks, offer an attractive diversification option away from equities. Property is known as an income asset, offering a potentially attractive and steady revenue stream from rents, which can provide a good source of income for investors. The asset class can also be a bargain for investors, with many established funds trading at substantial discounts to their net asset value. Although there are some risks associated with property investment, with the challenges around remote working and the future of High Street and office space, most property funds are illiquid ‘real’ assets, which can perform a useful diversification role in a portfolio. Therefore, commercial property funds have a deserving place in many multi-asset portfolios but do require specific consideration as to their investment characteristics. 
2. Commercial property is primarily an income asset
Commercial is a popular choice for investors looking for a reliable source of income. Direct property funds invest in commercial real estate such as industrial, retail, and office buildings. This allows investors to benefit from rental income while potentially also achieving capital appreciation. Indirect property funds, on the other hand, invest in the shares of companies that operate in the property and property development sector. Both types of funds offer an extra layer of diversification for investors. These funds are often structured as real estate investment trusts or open-ended investment companies. However, commercial property funds do come with their fair share of risks, including illiquidity and volatility. In situations where many investors want to cash in at the same time, it can be challenging to sell properties quickly at a reasonable price, potentially leading to the fund’s suspension. 
3. Valuations are currently very cheap, with most trusts trading at a minimum of 20% discount to assets
Invest looking for a bargain in the UK property market may find it in property funds. With most established funds trading at a substantial discount to net asset value, valuations are currently very cheap. In fact, trust shares are trading at a minimum of 20% discount to assets. While the economic outlook poses some challenges, property funds still have a deserving place in many multi-asset portfolios. They offer diversification from equities and a potentially attractive and steady revenue stream from rents. However, it’s important to note that commercial property is subject to economic factors and listed vehicles can come with more equity-like volatility, especially in sharply falling markets. Despite these risks, with careful consideration, property funds can be a worthwhile investment option. 
4. Direct and indirect property funds offer different investment approaches
Investing in property funds can offer attractive investment opportunities with different approaches, each with its advantages. Direct property funds involve purchase, ownership, rental, management, and sale of a property for profit. This strategy can provide capital-rich returns but is also cash flow dependent and may require bank lending. Indirect property funds, on the other hand, invest in the shares of firms operating in the property and property development sector, providing greater flexibility and diversification. However, these funds can be more linked to the wider equity market and may pose risks due to their illiquid nature and potential volatility. Understanding the differences and making the right choice is crucial in ensuring a successful investment. By exploring these opportunities and considering key factors, such as risk tolerance, investors can make informed decisions that best suit their investment goals. 
5. Direct property funds spread investment across a variety of properties for diversification
Investing in direct property funds can be a good option for those looking for diversification in their portfolio. These funds buy commercial real estate such as office blocks, retail and industrial parks, and provide reliable rental income along with potential capital appreciation. By spreading investments across different properties, investors can benefit from diversification, which means even if one or more properties are unoccupied for a period, the others can still generate income. This type of fund is more popular than indirect property funds, which invest in the shares of firms that operate in the property and property development sector. Direct property funds can be structured as either closed-ended or open-ended, and investors can benefit from stable income and reduced volatility in multi-asset portfolios. However, property funds can pose significant risks as they can be highly illiquid and property values can be volatile. 
6. Indirect property funds invest in shares of firms operating in property sector
Investing in indirect property funds is a popular option for those looking to diversify their investment portfolio. These funds invest in the shares of companies that operate in the property and property development sector, rather than directly owning physical property. As a result, their performance tends to be more closely linked to the equity market. This can provide investors with greater flexibility and potentially higher returns, but also carries more risk. Indirect property funds offer the advantage of being able to invest in a range of companies, which can reduce the impact of any one company’s performance on the overall fund. When choosing between direct and indirect property funds, investors should consider their risk tolerance, investment goals, and overall portfolio diversification strategy. 
7. Property funds can be structured as closed-ended or open-ended investments
Property funds can be structured in two ways: closed-ended or open-ended. Closed-ended funds, such as property trusts or real estate investment trusts (REITs), are stock market listed and traded like stocks, making them easier to sell quickly at a fair price. On the other hand, open-ended funds, such as unit trusts or open-ended investment companies (OEICs), have liquidity issues because the buildings underpinning the fund must be sold when investors want to cash in their holdings. This can be a slow process, especially if the manager doesn’t have a large enough cash buffer in place. Despite the risks posed by open-ended funds, they offer investors a good source of income while providing an extra layer of diversification. Closed-ended funds, while offering greater liquidity, are also exposed to the volatility of the wider equity market. Investors should weigh the pros and cons of both types of funds before making an investment. 
8. Closed-ended funds are traded on the stock market and provide increased liquidity
Closed funds, unlike open-ended funds, have a fixed number of shares available, which are sold through an initial public offering (IPO). The shares are then traded on the stock market, providing investors with increased liquidity as they can buy and sell them at any time during market hours. The market demand for these shares determines their value, which can trade at a discount or a premium to the fund’s net asset value. Closed-ended funds offer greater flexibility to fund managers as they do not have to manage the inflow and outflow of investor funds and can make long-term investments without the threat of sudden redemptions. Additionally, they often have lower management fees than open-ended funds, as they do not have to maintain large cash reserves for redemptions. Overall, closed-ended funds provide investors with a convenient way to invest in various asset classes while enjoying the benefits of listed securities. 
9. Property funds may face liquidity issues when a large number of investors want to withdraw
UK property funds have been facing liquidity issues as investors seek to withdraw their investments amid the economic uncertainty and rising interest rates. Open-ended property funds in the UK are finding it difficult to meet the surge in demand for redemptions as valuations come under pressure. BlackRock and M&G, two major asset managers, have deferred redemptions from their property funds worth around £8.1bn. Top asset managers like Schroders have also imposed restrictions on property fund redemptions since September. The decline in property values has caused the reduction in exposure to property funds by pension schemes, which sold their liquid assets to rebalance their portfolios. The restriction on redemptions has been put in place to prevent massive fire sales. 
10. Property values can be very volatile, posing risks for investors.
Investing in property funds may seem like a good idea, but there are several risks worth considering. One of the primary risks of commercial property funds is that property values can be volatile. The unpredictable nature of the property market makes it difficult for investors to accurately predict their returns. The illiquid nature of property investments can also be an issue, particularly in the case of open-ended funds. In situations where large numbers of investors decide to withdraw their funds, the manager of the fund may struggle to meet redemption requests. This can result in the need to sell properties to reimburse leaving investors, which can be a slow process. This risk was evident during the global financial crisis in 2008 and after the Brexit vote in 2016. Therefore, it is important for investors to carefully consider the potential risks and rewards associated with investing in property funds before making a decision.