UK Residential Investment Strategy – Update

With the policy rate decision of the Bank of England behind us (5.25% unchanged), speculation has started about whether the first rate cut will occur in June or July. Governor Bailey has not made any commitment, clarifying that it will ultimately depend on incoming economic data.

Real Estate investors have been waiting for rate cuts for more than a year, hoping that lower cost of finance will increase liquidity and reignite capital growth.

Inflation has come back substantially from the pick of almost 10% touched in October 2022, but fears abound that the last mile (i.e. reaching the 2% inflation target) might be the hardest. Several factors are at play here, from labour shortages, war in Ukraine, tension in the Middle East, reshoring of production and energy transition.


The UK 10 year Gilt certainly reversed the positive sentiment prevalent at the end of last year, and quickly repriced from 3.49% to 4.14%.


The UK residential property market is the mirror image of the persistent high inflation and high interest rates, with rents continuing to rise and property values decelerating.

According to the Office of National Statistics, average UK private rent increased by 9.2% in the 12 months to March 2024, representing the highest percentage change since the UK data series began in January 2015.

Average UK house prices decreased 0.2% in the 12 months to February 2024, an improvement from the decline of 1.30% in the 12 months to January 2024.


As usual, it is useful to show recent house price changes in the the wider context, to appreciate how resilient the asset class has been:


In their latest Q1 2024 UK Built to Rent (BTR) market update Knight Frank noted a record first quarter for BTR investments which hit £1.3 billion, up 21% over the year, the highest figure for a first quarter.


Quoting from KF’s report: Strong operational performance, ongoing investor demand and an expectation that rental growth is moderating to a more sustainable long-term position all support a view that yields will be stable through 2024. In total, the number of deals completed in Q1 across the UK market was up 55% over the year, while the average deal size was down 22% to £75.8 million.


The UK’s BTR stock now stands at 109,803 completed homes with a further 63,240 homes under construction and 80,400 with full planning permission granted. This brings the total size of the sector to 253,443 homes completed, in development or with planning.

There are 5.7 million privately rented homes in the UK. Current institutional BTR supply caters for just 1.9% of that number, rising to 3.0% when you include what is currently under construction, highlighting the scale of the opportunity for investors. This supports  view that the UK has considerable scope for growth.

Based on current household growth projections, Knight Frank estimates that there will be an additional 263,000 households renting properties by 2030 . If  the BTR sector continues to add around 14,000 homes each year, as it currently does, the provision rate would only increase from 1.9% today, to 3.4% by 2030, underscoring both the need and the potential for significant continued growth in the sector. 


10-15 years ago we saw the birth of the Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) sector. Today, we are seeing the birth of another sector “UK BTR”, a sector which will dwarf in size PBSA and rival other traditional commercial real estate sectors of Offices, Industrial and Retail.

Co-investment opportunity: Tesco Superstore, Manchester

Early this year, our Fund acquired a Tesco Superstore in Manchester (UK) for GBP 28,600,000 using a financing facility provided by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. In order to manage its single-asset concentration risk, the Fund issued 5 years redeemable participating shares linked solely to the performance of the asset and paying a 7%p.a. monthly distribution. The value of the shares is directly linked to the value of the underlying property, and therefore, in addition to the monthly cash distributions, there is a possibility of capital gains over the investment period.Prior to their maturity, the shares can be redeemed based on their estimated value published daily by the Fund, however redemptions will be accepted only if there are matching subscriptions, or if the Fund has spare liquidity to by them back. The shares were fully underwritten at issuance, however we now have an investor in need of liquidity offering the possibility to acquire the shares at a price which is slightly below the initial issue price. The shares are denominated (and hedged) in USD and the minimum investment is USD 100,000.The assetIf you wish to learn more about this property, you can follow this link to our Youtube channel where we have uploaded a short promotional video: essence, the property is a modern supermarket servicing both traditional clients and on-line sales. The property has been adapted to allow so called “click & collect” sales where customers can order online and then pick up their groceries from a dedicated back entrance. The property has also its own fleet of minivans to deliver groceries at home. The lease on the property is very long, with almost 16 years remaining and no breaks. Rents are reviewed every 5 years in line with inflation, with the next rent review due in March 2022. As you know, inflation in the UK is running very hot at the moment (3.2%) boosting the next rent review in March which will incorporate 5 years of accumulated inflation.The marketRecently I held a webinar with Ben Green, the CEO of Atrato Capital who manages the Supermarket Income REIT to discuss about market trends. You can watch this webinar on our Youtube channel: the recording, Supermarket Income REIT published their annual results and provided an interesting overview of the market. You can watch the recording of the webinar here: I am going to share a couple of slides they have presented which really show what is happening to the market.Image_2021-09-29_21-28-35.pngSales of groceries have increased 9% over the last 2 years, a number which far outstrips the growth of the economy during the same period and which indicates a shift of lifestyle of individuals who are now spending more time at home and less in the office (where they were more likely to eat outside). More interestingly, online sales have grown 85% over the last 2 years, with deliveries made predominantly from existing stores (as opposed to pure logistics centers). It seems, therefore, that the old stores are the perfect urban logistic asset to reach customers; after all, these properties were located in strategic locations to be easily reached by customers.Image_2021-09-29_21-33-32.pngYields of acquired properties are also declining, with some the the latest transactions taking place at around 4% entry yield.Despite this compression, the property yield is still 2.2% above the average interest rate paid by supermarket operators on their bonds providing an attractive arbitrage opportunity when we factor the growth of income linked to inflation indexation. Image_2021-09-29_21-36-35.pngSupermarkets have become a target from Private Equity investors who are attracted by the resiliency of the income they generate and the rich real estate holdings. Given that recent accounting changes have made unattractive to perform sales and leaseback, it is unlikely that these takeover will result in a flood of properties in the market. Rather, we might see continued buy back of stock on lease providing a constant source of liquidity for investors who wish to exit an asset. The shortage of properties, compounded with the security of income, should continue to underpin their capital values, making them one of the most appealing long income propositions. ConclusionWe believe our investment in this Tesco supermarket will generate a secure income and and appreciate in value over time; we also believe that the asset should be sufficiently liquid if we decide to sell it in future. A co-investment in this asset should be attractive to sophisticated investors who are looking for a high degree of current income and capital preservation, and are prepared to take the increased risk of an exposure to a single tenant and a single property, as well as, the higher degree of risk associated to the use of leverage. Should you wish to obtain more details about this investment, please get in touch.

Real Assets Strategy – Update

REITs and Listed Infrastructure Funds

Since the beginning of the year, we have been allocating approximately 30% of the portfolios of the European and North American Funds to liquid securities. The liquid securities allocation of our Long Income Fund, however, is still at 7.08%, away from the 20-30% target we usually set for our Funds, keeping us in acquisitive mode.A number of UK REITs on our buy list announced capital raising to fund their healthy acquisition pipelines, offering an opportunity to increase our exposure, either by participating in the offering or soon after in the secondary market.In the past, new capital raises have proven a good opportunity to increase exposure in these REITs, as these offerings are usually done at a discount to prevalent secondary market prices and are then followed by strong positive performance as the raised money is deployed in accretive acquisitions which boost NAVs, EPSs and dividends.Among these REITs raising capital, we particularly like those investing in UK and Continental European Logistics, a sector where we see strong rental growth and increasing compression of yields.Whilst it is challenging to make direct investments in standing assets at entry yields of 3-4%, indirect investments via REITs benefit from access to a development pipeline which enables us to capture yields on cost of 6-8%. Most of these developments are non-speculative, but rather consist of pre-let properties to Retailers who are shifting their business online and require more Logistics space to replace the traditional space they are vacating on the high street or in shopping malls. We also plan to add UK Diversified Long Income REITS which seem to have turned the corner in respect of the difficulties they had last year with their exposure to the Budget Hotels and Leisure sectors, and are now coming back to market to raise fresh capital to finance their acquisition pipeline (primarily in the Supermarkets and Logistics sectors).UK Supermarkets is of course one of our favorite themes, but we won’t be active in the listed sector this month and next, since we are planning to make a number of direct investments (see below under the relevant section).The Office sector, and in particular London Offices, is in our opinion best played through REITs at the moment. There has been virtually no evidence of distress in the direct market, and the only place to buy below fair value is the stock market.Offices have been virtually empty for the last 12 months, and there has been very little activity in the letting market to establish with certainty if (and how) demand from users has changed as a result of this forced “work from home” experiment. Various surveys we have read lead us to believe that users want increasing flexibility which is best addressed by flexible offices. It is for this reason that we plan to increase our exposure to flexible office REITs which in our opinion are best placed to capture this long term trend. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that some of the traditional REITs providing exposure to Offices are still trading at a discount to NAV and we have been tactically attracted to this sector during the month of March. However, a full return to Offices will need to wait until later in the year or even early next year, when occupancy trends should be clearer. We think that much of the repricing of Office REITs over the last couple of months is due to hopes that things will return to normal, or that they will not be as bad as feared, with very little evidence of what is really happening on the ground. We doubt that valuations will hold in the face of falling rents and capital values. We certainly have seen this happening with Shopping Centers REITs which rallied on the back of the positive news of the discovery of a vaccine, only to give up most of the gains when it became evident that things were not returning to normal any time soon.We also plan to increase our exposure to the Self Storage sector. It has taken a while to find a reason to invest in this space given the uncertainties about new supply of self storage space. However, when we saw reports that commercial use of self storage facilities has been increasing to 25%, we realized what is actually going on: the limited availability of urban/last mile logistics space has forced Retailers to use self storage facilities to store their goods as close as possible to their clients, attracting self storage facilities in the gravitational pull of e-commerce.Many Data Centers REITS took a beating during the last two months, as they were caught in the general pullback of the technology sector. We have spent some time over the last few weeks attending earnings calls of the REITs in our portfolio and have reached the conclusion that things are as good as ever; we feel this is a buying opportunity. Our exposure is currently focused on US Data Center REITs which, despite their US listing, have portfolios spread across the world. Over the last few months, however, we have seen a number of dedicated European Data Center and Digital Infrastructure REITs listing or planning to list on the London Stock ExchangeWe are not rushing in to buy these new players as we want to see how they deploy their IPO proceeds, but the sector is certainly worth monitoring.Similarly, we are studying Asian listed Data Center REITs, as these players have been increasingly buying assets in Europe and USA, and offer an alternative way to gain exposure to the Digital Infrastructure sector.Telecom Towers REITs have also seen their share prices falling over the last few months, despite their business models benefiting from the secular tailwinds of Digital Transformation. We are currently reviewing individually the securities in our buy list to assess if some fundamental change has occurred; if nothing emerges from our analysis, we will probably increase our exposure taking advantage of current price action. Medical Office Buildings and Life Sciences are two sectors we like but are underweighted in our Long Income Fund as it has been difficult to build exposure via Direct Investments or Direct Funds. Specialist REITs in the USA, Canada and UK seems to be the only way to invest in these sectors at the moment, as we get the twin benefit of a relative weak secondary market price as well as access to best in class management teams with healthy acquisitions and development pipelines.Within the Residential sector we will continue to increase our exposure to REITs that provides access to long income strategies like UK Shared Ownership and Social Housing. This is to replace our exposure to UK Residential Ground Rents which we are progressively reducing due to the ongoing regulatory uncertainties.We have however taken advantage of the recent weakness of the Listed German Residential sector to add back exposure in our European Fund.Talking to the leading investment managers active in this sector it has become clear to us that Residential, and in particular the German, Dutch and Nordics markets, have been primed by large institutional investors as the main recipient of the ongoing reallocation of fixed income portfolios, which will provide robust support to valuations for years to come. We continue to monitor the secondary market prices of Listed Infrastructures and Renewable Funds, many of which have been posting negative total returns lately. The secured, long term nature of the assets in their portfolios has driven secondary market valuations to extremely rich levels, making these Funds susceptible to sharp pullbacks as soon as some negative news emerges. We expect a number of these listed Funds to announce capital raises in the next few months to fund their acquisition pipelines, providing us a better re-entry opportunity in the sector.Among the Renewable Funds, we have started to build an exposure to Battery Storage which is a new strategy which can be played either via dedicated funds, or as part of more diversified funds which have recently announced an expansion into this sector. It seems increasingly clear that the lion’s share of the Energy Transformation will be represented by Wind and Solar Energy capacity which require battery storage facilities to store and release the intermittent electricity they produce. As a result, Wind and Solar plants will have to either install battery storage facilities on their premises or lease dedicated space from standalone plants. In particular, we are interested in Funds which enter into long term agreements with credit-worth corporates, an approach which fits better in our long income strategy.Private Real Estate and Infrastructure Funds We are often asked why we have such a large allocation to third party Funds in our own Funds. There are three reasons.Firstly, many of our investors are unable to meet the minimum investment requirements of institutional funds, which start at $1mil but typically are set at $5mil. Via our Funds, which have a much lower minimum investment, our investors can access top tier products on a par with the largest institutional investors, who do not shy away from making indirect investments via these Funds.Secondly, these third party Funds provide us instant access to diversified portfolios of direct investments, which is essential at the early stages of construction of our own portfolio. Whilst we achieve the same diversification via REITs and listed Infrastructure Funds, third party institutional Funds do not expose us to the same volatility risk. Thirdly, and most importantly, these Funds provide us cost savings, as we buy them on the secondary market at a price which is net of the initial stamp duty which we would otherwise pay if we were to buy properties directly. This is an upfront saving of 5-7%, not to mention the savings of other costs (Legal, Tax Advisors) which can easily add up to another 1-2%. These initial savings are often in addition to the currency hedging benefit which, especially for Continental European Funds, generates a net income which almost or completely offsets the additional layer of management fees.We are currently evaluating three secondaries opportunities, all in the UK. The first two Funds invest in Social and Commercial Long Income properties. These funds are experiencing a mismatch of subscriptions and redemptions and offer an opportunity to acquire units at about 5-6% discount to normal subscription price.The third Fund focuses on the traditional UK industrial sector, in particular Airport logistics, which is primed to grow over the next few years as the UK increasingly shifts the composition of its trading partners post BREXIT. Here the opportunity is to buy units at a 5% discount of subscription price, an entry which is effectively equivalent to not paying any stamp duty.Besides secondaries opportunities, we expect during the month of April a capital call from a Global Infrastructure Fund to which we have committed last year and that is working through its acquisition pipeline. Once added to our Long Income Fund portfolio, this Fund will provide increasing exposure to the Data Centers sector, including the exciting sub-sector of Edge Data Centers. Besides Digital Infrastructures, this Fund will give us exposure to long income assets in the Utilities, Renewable Energy and Transportation sectors.Direct and Co-InvestmentsWe are at the final stages of an acquisition of a Tesco Supermarket in Manchester, an asset with in excess of 16 years secure lease to an investment grade tenant and benefiting from 5 yearly, upward only inflation indexations, the first of which in March 2022, is expected to lift rent by more than 10%. The Tesco Supermarket has been made available to investors outside our Fund by way of co-investment as we want to free our liquidity for our next acquisition.UK Supermarkets are currently our favorite hunting ground for direct investments because they enable us to capture secure long income in a sector which has proven resilient not only to the recent pandemic, but also to the digital transformation of the economy associated to the rise of e-commerce.On the contrary, it is becoming increasingly evident that Supermarkets are part of the essential last mile Retail logistics infrastructure, with other essential retailers renting space within the shopping floor of Supermarkets to benefit from continued customer footfall and from the strategic positioning of the assets to support on-line sales.

Real Estate Outlook – 2024

Our outlook for 2024 is that listed real estate should outperform the broader equities market, again because of its sensitivity to interest rates (this time on the upside). We have already started seeing this outperformance in November and December. We might however experience a near term correction if the Fed does not cut rates in March, as markets are now pricing. This would be a good time to entry or top up positions.Image_2024-01-08_08-07-45.pngMoving on to US markets, the following chart compares listed and unlisted real estate with fixed income. What we notice is that over the long period listed and unlisted real estate tend to generate similar returns outperforming fixed income, however listed real estate reacts more abruptly to lack of liquidity underperforming drastically private real estate. A similar scenario took place in 2007-2008, in 2020 and more recently in 2022. The good news is that after these drawdowns, listed real estate performs strongly and corrects the underperformance, if though private real estate continue to decline. This observation leads us to the conclusion that listed real estate will outperform private real estate this year, as it has happened during November and December last year, where we have seen some REITs rallying 30-40%. Image_2024-01-08_08-19-26.pngThe following chart introduces two non-listed real estate indexes of Offices and Industrial into our analysis. What we notice is that, even within the real estate sector there are strong performance variations, and it is possible to generate outperformance in private markets by selecting the right sector. Our view is that Offices will continue to underperform, and we will stay away from this asset class even though yields might start appearing interesting. There are secular forces reducing demand of offices in the US and Europe, which will continue to push down capital values across the sector. Only select properties with exceptional ESG standards and locations will see rents and capital value grow. Rather than trying to pick these unicorns we will use listed real estate to invest in the Office sector.Conversely, we think that the Industrial will continue to experience positive tailwinds because of the continue growth of e-commerce and the need of reshaping supply chains. It is for this reason that we have just initiated the development of a logistics warehouse in the Netherlands which we expect will deliver a double digit IRR when it will delivered in 2025. Image_2024-01-08_08-22-59.pngAnother sector where we have decided to invest is the UK Residential Sector. The chart below shows the remarkable performance of this asset class over a long period of time, representing an excellent store of value for investors who wish to allocate a portion of their portfolio to GBP assets.Our focus will be primarily the Built to Rent and Serviced Apartment sectors, with acquisitions planned in both London and Manchester. Image_2024-01-08_08-28-30.pngMoving to the relationship between interest rates and real estate, I am sharing a chart I took from a presentation I attended last month, showing the interplay between interest rates and rental yields in the UK property market (but the same can be repeated in other markets). Essentially, the chart shows that even when interest rates were higher than rental yields (Phase 1), it still makes sense to use a moderate amount of leverage because of growth (in this case approximated by Income Growth). Phase 3 in the chart was a very unusual scenario when interest rates were kept artificially low and leverage was able to boost both income and growth. The current Phase 4 is more similar to Phase 2 when interest rates will be approximately equal to rental yields. In this phase, leverage is not accretive to income, but still boosts growth. The conclusion we draw from this analysis, is that caution should be used in the use of leverage when investing in real estate both for income generating properties and development projects. Image_2024-01-08_08-32-09.pngThe following two charts provide precise return forecasts for European and UK property markets.In the case of European markets a 5 years projection is provided (including one with a notional 40% leverage). As you can see, expectations over the next 12 months are muted for European real estate because income is more than offset by capital declines. However returns are expected to be quite strong for the rest of the forecast horizon.For the UK, a positive return is expected already in 2024, given that this market corrected substantially during 2022 and 2023Image_2024-01-08_08-40-52.pngImage_2024-01-08_08-41-04.png

UK Residential – Thought Leadership

The Compelling Case for International Private Investors in UK Residential Properties

January 2024

The UK residential property market is an asset class which deserves relevance in the portfolio of international investors in search of income diversification and capital preservation. In this article, we explore the underlying reasons of this sector overweight and discuss efficient access strategies.

Long Track Record of Steady Growth:

The UK residential property market boasts a remarkable history of steady growth dating back to the early ‘70s. Over the past five decades, property values have experienced consistent appreciation, providing investors with reliable returns. This long-term track record offers a sense of stability and assurance for international private investors looking for sustainable growth in their portfolios.

The chart below shows the growth of the average house price in the UK which rose from around £3,700 in the early ‘70s to almost £300,000 at present.

Imagine placing that same amount on a bank deposit to receive interest instead of buying a property to collect rent. Fast forward 50 years, and the purchasing power of the bank deposit would have been completely erased.

Another way to measure how well an asset class has been able to preserve purchasing power is to compare its performance versus a price index.

The chart below compares the value of an average house price in the UK with the UK Retail Price Index demonstrating that investors saw a relative enhancement of their purchasing power over the period.

One of the most significant indicators of a robust investment is its ability to weather economic storms. The UK residential property market has demonstrated remarkable resilience during various financial crises, including in the aftermath of the global financial downturn of 2008 when the value of UK residential properties demonstrated their ability to recover the previous peak recorded in 2007 and reach new heights by 2014.

Reliable Source of Income

Whilst the dream of owning a house is ever present, more than 20 million people in the UK live in rental accommodation, either private rented sector or social housing (1).

Demand of rental properties generates a reliable source of income for property owners, which unlike fixed income instruments, keeps growing over time.

The chart below shows how the rental index grew relentlessly over the last 20 years, despite the periodic recessions experienced by the UK economies.

Shortage of Supply

The reason of this growth is to be found in the shortage of housing in the UK, where permits to construct new homes fall far short of demand (2). There simply aren’t enough homes available to meet the growing demand. There were approximately 25 million homes in 2021 (3). The government has pledged to build 180,000 new, affordable homes by 2026 (4), but according to the National Housing Federation, there are around 8.5 million people with some kind of unmet housing need (5).

This imbalance between supply and demand has led to higher house prices and an increase in rental costs. The cause of the insufficient housing supply can be attributed to factors such as strict planning regulations, slow construction rates, staffing and budget cuts in local councils and the scarcity of available land for development (6).


1. English Housing Survey
2. Housebuilding crisis
3. Number of housing units in England
4. Housebuilding crisis
5. People in housing need
6. UK housing shortage
We are here to help:

Rasmala Investment Bank has over 2 decades of experience investing in the UK residential sector and leverages on the expertise of a London-heaquarted team managing over 500 residential units across the Country. We are able to help private investors at all stages of the decision-making process to invest in the UK residential sector, from initial stages of acquiring land, through construction, renovation, conversion and property management. We offer pooled investment vehicle and separate accounts to meet the requirements of investors interested in making financial or more significant strategic investments.

For more information, please visit our websites or contact us.


Ruggiero Lomonaco
Head of Real Estate Funds

Dominic Sherry
CEO – Viridian Apartments

This document is prepared by Rasmala Investment Bank Limited (“RIBL”). This document is not for distribution to the general public but for intended recipients only and may not be published, circulated, reproduced or distributed in whole or part to any other person without the written consent of RIBL. RIBL is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (“DFSA”). RIBL products or services are only made available to customers who RIBL is satisfied meet the regulatory criteria to be a ” Professional Client”, as defined under the Rules and Regulations of the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”).This document is provided for information purposes only. It does not constitute a solicitation, recommendation or offer to buy or sell any specific investment product or subscribe to any specific investment management or advisory service. While the statements contained in this presentation have been carefully developed, represent Rasmala’s views, and have been arrived at on the basis of the best information available at the date thereof, they have not been subjected to independent verification, and no representations or warranties are made as to the accuracy or completeness of such statements. Therefore, parties associated with the preparation of this presentation shall have no liability for any statements, opinions, information or matters (express or implied) arising out of, contained in, or derived from, or for any omissions from, or any errors in, this presentation or any other written or oral communications to the recipient in relation to the matters therein. This presentation should be read in conjunction with any subsequent or other materials prepared by Rasmala in relation to the matters discussed herein. All such materials, including this presentation, shall be subject to amendment without notice. This information, including any expression of opinion, has been obtained from or is based upon sources believed to be reliable, and is believed to be fair and not misleading. Any opinion or estimate contained in this material is subject to change without notice. Calculations are based on the most recent data available from underlying sources. Neither RIBL nor any of its directors or employees give any representation or warranty as to the reliability, accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information, nor do they accept any responsibility arising in any way (including by negligence) for errors in or omissions from the information. Rasmala and its respective employees, directors and officers shall not be responsible or liable for any liabilities, damages, losses, claims, causes of action, or proceedings (including without limitation indirect, consequential, special, incidental, or punitive damages) arising out of or in connection with the use of this presentation or any errors or omissions in its content. Certain information contained in this presentation constitutes “forward-looking statements”, which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “expected”, “projected”, “intended” “estimated” “probability” “potential” “outlook”, “believed” or the negative thereof or other variations or comparable terminology . Due to various risks and uncertainties, actual events or results or the actual performance may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements.

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