Investment rise reveals property recovery

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PENSION funds and insurance companies invested pounds 1.4bn in property in the second quarter, the highest amount since 1988, writes Peter Rodgers.

The long-awaited confirmation of recovery in property investment came in a quarter that saw total institutional investment fall sharply from pounds 14bn to pounds 10.2bn.

But property investment was five times as high as in the first three months and well over twice the pounds 625m for the whole of last year.

David Hutchings of Healey & Baker, the estate agents, said the pick-up in property was confirmation of a trend the firm had been seeing for the past 18 months.

Institutions had stepped up their property buying but had also been readjusting their portfolios, making substantial sales as well, either to other institutions or to private and overseas investors.

The pounds 1.43bn invested in property by all institutions in the second quarter compared with pounds 276m in the first quarter and net sales of pounds 317m a year earlier.

The Central Statistical Office said institutions invested pounds 6.3bn in equities, pounds 300m more than in the first quarter, but slashed their investment in overseas securities, mainly shares, from pounds 2.2bn to pounds 500m.

There was also a fall in gilts investment from pounds 4.26bn to pounds 3.47bn and institutions ran down their cash holdings by pounds 1.57bn after increasing them by pounds 833m in the first quarter.