Estienne de Klerk has been elected chair of the SA REIT Association, which represents the South African listed real estate investment trust sector.
SA REIT members comprise all publicly listed SA REITs – a sector with the market capitalisation of more than R300bn.
De Klerk is the South African CEO of Growthpoint Properties. He has been involved in banking and listed property for nearly 25 years.
He is a past president of the SA Property Owners Association (SAPOA) and represented the industry in the Property Sector Charter negotiations.
According to De Klerk, the property industry and REITs are often misunderstood.
"Property is a distinctly unique asset class, and REITs are complex operating businesses. Local and international research shows that property portfolios perform better when professionally managed and that REITs outperform physical property portfolios," says De Klerk.
"REITs are a liquid investment, which you can buy and sell cheaper and quicker than physical properties, and they offer a tax-efficient structure."
In De Klerk's view, REITs offer a unique investment proposition that satisfies both income investors seeking yield and equity capital investors seeking total return.
"While SA REITs are not immune to the struggling SA economy, they offer less volatility and their dividends are highly predictable and reliable with the potential for good medium- to long-term capital appreciation," says De Klerk.
"A growing number of REITs have diversified internationally, offering an investment that is disconnected from the SA economy for those seeking this option."
De Klerk takes over from the association's immediate past chair Izak Petersen, who is CEO of Dipula Income Fund.
According to De Klerk, Petersen successfully steered the association through tumultuous times because of the tough economy and company-specific issues that impacted the sector and the association.