Property Fund Valuations Update

Wednesday 18 March 2020

The UK commercial property market is facing unprecedented circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and so valuation firms can no longer make reliable judgements on value. This is known as “material value uncertainty”. Valuers are still able to produce valuations and make professional judgements but with less certainty than under normal market conditions. This applies to all valuations for all types of commercial property, whether owned by property funds, companies or other types of owner.  

Under FCA rules applying to funds investing in inherently illiquid assets, such as commercial property, funds with more than 20% of their portfolio subject to material valuation uncertainty are required to suspend subscriptions and redemptions in the interests of all investors. Although these rules are not due to come into force until September 2020, existing rules would require fund managers to consider suspending funds in circumstances like the ones they are facing at the current time. Fund managers are acting promptly to protect investors and there have been a number of such suspensions with more likely to occur.

Paul Richards, Managing Director of the Association of Real Estate Funds (AREF), said: 

“Investing in UK property is an investment in hotels, offices, shops, warehouses, and restaurants up and down the country. COVID-19 is causing great economic uncertainty, hitting all of these businesses, and also reducing the number of investment transactions which provide evidence for property valuations. This means that valuers can no longer assess the value of properties with a high degree of certainty. Under these conditions property funds need to suspend while this extraordinary situation lasts, in order to ensure that investors, mostly long-term pension savers, are protected. Strict FCA regulations apply, in order to ensure that all investors are treated fairly.”

The precise wording of the material valuation uncertainty clause is set out below:

Material Valuation Uncertainty

The outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), declared by the World Health Organisation as a “Global Pandemic” on the 11th March 2020, has impacted global financial markets. Travel restrictions have been implemented by many countries.

Market activity is being impacted in many sectors. As at the valuation date, we consider that we can attach less weight to previous market evidence for comparison purposes, to inform opinions of value.  Indeed, the current response to COVID-19 means that we are faced with an unprecedented set of circumstances on which to base a judgement. 

Our valuation(s) is / are therefore reported on the basis of ‘material valuation uncertainty’ as per VPS 3 and VPGA 10 of the RICS Red Book Global. Consequently, less certainty – and a higher degree of caution – should be attached to our valuation than would normally be the case. Given the unknown future impact that COVID-19 might have on the real estate market, we recommend that you keep the valuation of [this property] under frequent review.

For further information, please contact:

Katie Martin, Head of Communications: [email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4655

David Parton, Communications Executive: [email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4625

IA press office: [email protected]

T: 020 7269 4696

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