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Brexit set to fuel demand for US property ‘as a safe haven’

The Brexit fallout is testing the faith of property investors in the UK which could lead to greater interest in US commercial property, according to Michael Hudgins, global strategist at EII Capital Management, an asset manager specialising in real estate.

Concerns about what Britain’s decision to leave the European Union might mean for the price of commercial property has already led to a rush of investors pulling their money out of UK property funds, and Hudgins now expects to see investors seek ‘safe haven’ alternatives for their cash, such as US commercial property.

Hudgins points to the more than $250bn (£189.5bn) institutions want to invest in real estate, and much of that money would have gone into the UK, but post Brexit many investors are inevitably going to have second thoughts.

“Given what’s happened in the UK, that’s going to be reconsidered,” he told the press. “And we think on the margin we’ll see capital flows to US property as a safe haven.”

Hudgins believes that investors would be wise to consider acquiring stock in real estate investment trusts, such as REITs.

REITs are publicly traded companies that invest in property including office and apartment buildings, shopping malls and warehouses. REITs pass on almost all their income to investors as dividends.

“Investors are going to be looking for alternatives where can they get yield,” said Hudgins. “US property on a risk-adjusted basis is well set up in that environment.”

EII Capital expects REITs that invest in office property to do well as investors shift funds out of the UK and invest in real estate in major American cities like New York and Los Angeles.

“We think US property will continue to grow rents, to grow cash flow at the property level and to distribute that to investors,” he added. 

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