Property is 'good value despite a fall in prices'

Investment in property is a good long-term prospect for charities in spite of big drops in prices for commercial buildings, according to charity property fund managers.

Managers have reported rental income of up to 7 per cent, even though property values have fallen by more than 15 per cent.

"If you look at property on a fundamental level, it's good-to-fair value, but this is an issue of sentiment," said Charles Mesquita, manager of the Charity Property Fund at Rensburg Sheppards Investment Management. "We've seen significant drops in capital values, but income has remained relatively predictable."

He said in an interview with Third Sector that charities should be investing in the market for the long haul.

"It is too late to sell," he said. "Anyone who wants to get out should have done so a year ago. Most charity trustees are long-term investors and will be making decisions on a five to 10-year view."

James Thornton, fund director at Mayfair Capital, said he expected new investors to take advantage of a weaker market.

Anyone who invested now might lose some capital value in the short term, he added, but would have a solid income stream.

John Kelly, head of client investment at CCLA, emphasised that apparent drops in capital value tended to be unreliable, and were not necessarily connected to the capacity of a property to generate income.

"If you want a price for BP or Shell, I can look at a computer screen and tell you," he said. "But with property, very little is being sold at the moment, so there's no accurate way of judging the price."

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