GLOBAL - The UK could see the introduction of mortgage REITs by 2013, with the Treasury considering the idea, according to the British Property Federation (BPF).
Speaking at the IPD/IPF Property Investment Conference in Brighton, the organisation's chief executive Liz Peace was asked about the introduction of the new REIT - already common in the US - and seemed to admit that the industry was divided about their introduction.
She told delegates that its introduction would be unlikely to occur before the Finance Act of 2013, as the Treasury would need to have launched a consultation by now to include legislation in next year's Budget.
Peace also said her members were divided on the vehicle's use.
"It almost depends on the day you ask someone - they suddenly seem to be terribly 'in' and then they drop out," she said.
However, she added that the Treasury "certainly" had not dismissed the idea out of hand, with KPMG's global head of real estate arguing that its introduction would be possible as the political climate was in favour of increased construction.
"Residential mortgages - anything that's going to get more money into the house-building sector - the government is prepared to look at," she said, contrasting this with the attitude on commercial mortgages, which were now "off the government's radar".
Meanwhile, David Atkins, chief executive at Hammerson, expressed concern about the general amount of leveraging among REITs.
"In terms of leverage, my approach and the company's approach is one of treating it more with caution," he said, standing by previous comments that leveraging should be reduced.
He added that it was the "absolutely sensible approach" that leveraging be kept under control, especially in light of the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe.