REAL ESTATE - Five Dutch investment companies and real estate asset managers say they have taken the initiative towards an independent watchdog.

The aim of the new foundation – Stichting Transparantie Vastgoedfondsen or STV – is to increase transparency for investors in real estate, the companies said. It will target managers and providers.

The initiative is partly due to concern that was expressed last year in a special report by the financial watchdog Autoriteit Financiële Markten.

According to the AFM, a growing number of private investors are running risks because of a lack of transparency, limited supervision and integrity problems. The market should take on more responsibility to increase the trust of its clients, and minimize the risk of incidents, it said, while recommending the market to develop its own code of conduct.

“We aren’t waiting for cowboys with a ‘get-rich-quickly’ mentality,” says Pepijn Morshuis of the IBUS Company, one of the founders. So far 15 of the approximately 70 providers have joined the initiative.

The STV must be operational by the end of the year. Participants are supposed to have themselves screened on a voluntary basis, and to pay a contribution of €5,000 for each prospectus.

“We support the initiative, which is definitely a step in the right direction,” commented AFM spokes woman Alice Jentink. “The new watchdog will however be additional to our existing supervision,” she stressed.

New legislation – expected to come into force this year - will enable the AFM to even a more strict supervision, the AFM indicated.

The initiative to the watchdog has been taken by Annexum Invest, The IBUS Company, MPC Capital, Vastgoed Syndicaten Nederland and Westplan Investors.