Your Shout: Patrick Ryan, Managing Director, Christie First

23 June 2004
Your Shout: Patrick Ryan, Managing Director, Christie First

Although UK interest rates are beginning to rise again after a sustained period of low rates, there has been no slackening in demand for commercial property mortgages

and related insurance products. Christie First had a record year in 2003 and saw a 25% year-on-year rise in business during the first quarter of 2004, enjoying its busiest March on record. Investment in property remains attractive in comparison to gilts, shares and bonds. And in the recent Budget, the Government recognised the continuing interest in commercial property investment through its decision to consult on the creation of real estate investment trusts (REITs). Such trusts will stimulate the property market by providing the framework to allow shelter from significant income, corporation and capital gains tax liability. Even if UK interest rates reach 5% during 2004, as has been predicted in many quarters, this would still be comparatively low. In addition, the trend for those disaffected by corporate life to graduate to owning their own businesses continues. We see no reason why this trend shouldn't continue, even gather pace. On the corporate side, we saw many com-panies leave the stock market last year - for example Jarvis, Hanover, Thistle and Macdonald in the hotel sector, and in the retail sector, groups such as Debenhams and Harvey Nichols. Without the strictures of them being publicly listed companies, there's likely to be considerable movement in buying and selling assets. Any decent hotel or pub coming to the market is quickly snapped up, with our associate company Christie & Co reporting that demand far exceeds supply. A contributing fact is the willingness of banks to lend money to back such acquisitions. [
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