Article sponsored by Primonial REIM France
With 1,858 billion euros in assets at the end of February 2022(1), life insurance is considered to be the preferred savings product of the French. There is another investment that individuals appreciate just as much: real estate. Fortunately, there is no need to choose one or the other since several life insurance contracts offer indirect investment in real estate in the form of units of account (UC).
SCPI, OPCI and SCI
Three types of real estate UC can be accommodated in a life insurance policy: SCPIs (civil real estate investment companies), made up of at least 95% real estate assets (offices, shops, health, housing, etc.); OPCIs (undertakings for collective investment in real estate), hybrid investments invested at least 60% in real estate and a minimum of 5% in liquid assets to respond in particular to requests for withdrawals, the balance being freely invested by the OPCI manager (equities, bonds, money market, etc.); SCIs (real estate civil companies), which can buy buildings directly or via other civil companies, shares in SCPIs or OPCIs, listed property companies or UCITS.
Investing in these UCs makes it possible to indirectly become a property owner at a lower cost (a few hundred euros). It also provides diversified exposure to real estate (in terms of assets and geographic exposure). And constitutes a riskier alternative to funds in euros given their potential return. In 2021, the SCPI distribution rate was 4.45%; the annual performance of OPCIs by 4.4% and that of SCIs by 3.8%. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. As such, SCI Primonial Capimmo, the largest SCI on the market according to Aspim at 31/12/22 with net assets of over 6.6 billion euros, recorded a performance net of management fees of 4 .21%. In addition, the liquidity is guaranteed by the insurer, which makes it possible to recover one’s savings more easily and quickly. However, the capital itself is not guaranteed. In addition, the taxation that applies to real estate UCs is that of life insurance, especially after eight years. The investment must therefore be considered over the long term, an investment horizon that is perfectly compatible with life insurance.
… and disadvantages
However, holding real estate in your life insurance includes some constraints. The saver only has access to the units available in his contract, limiting choice and diversification; he may not acquire SCPIs on credit and/or by dismemberment. Furthermore, the shares of SCPI, OPCI and SCI remain the property of the insurer who may, as such, receive part of the gains they generate. In addition, there are costs inherent in the contract and linked to the CPUs which can affect the performance of the media and the value of the contract. And like any unit-linked investment, there is a risk of capital and market loss and income is not guaranteed. Finally, in terms of real estate wealth tax, the value on January 1 of the year of the real estate units must be declared.
(1) France Insurers
(2) Consumer real estate funds in 2021 – ASPIM
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