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Wed, Dec 16, 2009 - Page 10 News List

UK commercial property value drop slows

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Commercial-property values in the UK fell at the slowest annual pace last month since February last year, Investment Property Databank Ltd (IPD) said, as rents almost stopped declining.

Prices for office buildings, stores and warehouses dropped 14 percent from a year earlier, an index posted on the London-based research firm’s Web site yesterday showed. Property values climbed 2.4 percent on a monthly basis, the biggest gain in 15 years.

“This time last year, the monthly index showed we were on the brink of surpassing the worst annual return since 1990,” said Malcolm Hunt, head of UK client services at IPD. “At that time, such a rapid reversal of fortunes would have been considered far-fetched.”

Investment in commercial properties is starting to recover after the market’s two-year decline, which ended in July, knocked 44 percent off values. The biggest buyers are cash-rich UK and overseas pension funds and insurers, along with property companies that raised billions of pounds in share sales.

After taking rental income into account, investors have lost 1.4 percent so far this year, IPD said. The recovery has achieved enough momentum to make a positive return possible this year, Hunt said.

Property values fell 5.8 percent in December last year, the biggest monthly decline since IPD started its index in 1987. Prices for shops and malls rose 2.8 percent last month from the prior month, the second-biggest gain recorded by IPD.

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