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The Difference Between Open-ended And Closed-ended Investments In Real Estate

By Author: Bradley Weiss
Total Articles: 159

Investments in UK land and property have always held a strong portion of individuals’ wealth portfolios and the assets held by institutional investors in the UK. But in an era far removed from a time when a select aristocracy controlled vast estates, real estate has matured and broadened in the 20th and 21st centuries.

For example, millions in the middle class – 14.3 million households, about 66.7 per cent of families and individuals – own their own home, although that portion has slipped from about 70.9 per cent in 2003, the historic peak. About three per cent of the country’s housing stock is owned by small-holdings landlords; the 1988 Housing Act made buy-to-let investments attractive to individuals who enjoy rental income, rising capital value and a lower perceived degree of risk relative to other investment classes.

Other forms of investing in real estate are through a joint venture land opportunity. This is where a group of investors work with strategic land specialists who identify land that could and should be developed. The expertise lies in identifying where development will serve local interests, such as to provide a workforce to nearby employers, as well as how to work with local planning authorities to achieve appropriate use designations. Contrast this with investing through a real estate investment trust (REIT), where the investor has a more distant relationship with a broad portfolio of properties (almost always commercial in nature).

An important distinction within real estate investing is whether the asset is a closed-end or open-end investment. In brief, these differ as follows:

Close-ended investments – This is a method for raising capital by way of an initial public offering, which typically is listed on a stock exchange and also referred to as an investment trust. The investment fund is actively managed and very often contains multiple securities, a fixed amount of share capital, and there are no further issues or unit redemptions according to shifts in demand. Share prices are not determined by net-asset value (NAV) but rather supply and demand. Closed-ended investments tend to be used for illiquid securities.

In the UK, a REIT needs to satisfy certain conditions, including being listed on a recognised stock exchange, having one class of ordinary shares and to be a closed-ended investment company.

Open-ended investments – By definition, an open-ended fund involves taking an ownership stake in one or several properties under management of the fund. When several investors are aggregated in an investment and they are able to redeem their shares by selling it back to the fund, it is known as an open-ended investment. Unlike with a closed-ended investment, the investor can simply redeem his or her shares from the fund without finding a third-party buyer.

In the case of a real-estate open-ended fund, such as a joint venture that exists to develop land into residential or commercial property, redemptions might vary depending on the size of the shareholdings. Larger investors might have longer tie-in periods (e.g., a 12-month tie-in versus a five year tie-in) to smooth out liquidity concerns.

Individuals who wish to participate in UK land investment – be it through open-ended or closed-ended programmes – should seek advice from independent financial advisors.

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