UK surveyors lift valuation warning that caused property fund suspensions

LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - British surveyors said on Wednesday there was no longer “material uncertainty” over real estate valuations, paving the way for the reopening of many frozen funds in the 70 billion pound ($91 billion) UK property fund sector.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said in a statement that its forum on the issue “recommends a general lifting of material valuation uncertainty”, pointing to the easing of many restrictions imposed on households and businesses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

RICS said, however, that surveyors should continue to assign the material uncertainty tag to “some leisure and hospitality assets” on a case-by-case basis.

Real estate funds designed for individual retail investors totalling more than $8 billion were suspended in March after surveyors said it was not possible to be sure about valuations due to the pandemic.

Investors can normally take their money out of such funds any day they like.

Institutional real estate funds, which keep investors’ money locked up for longer, quickly followed suit.

Funds may be cautious about reopening initially, in case investors rush for the exits, said Oliver Creasey, equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot.

“The fund managers will be absolutely desperate to avoid a scenario where the fund reopens and then a week later is forced to close over liquidity concerns.” ($1 = 0.7724 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Hugh Lawson)