Publicly traded real estate investment trusts could become a reality in the United Kingdom by next May, according to Nicholas Ritblat, executive director of The British Land Co.Speaking at a panel session at the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts' institutional investor forum in New York, Mr. Ritblat said the U.K. government is inviting public comment on the proposal, and he urged convention attendees to "write in" if they think that having REITs in the United Kingdom is a good idea. A U.K. general election scheduled for next year could delay the process, Mr. Ritblat said, but he does not see "too many obstacles outside the political process." If the proposal goes through, there could be a major impact, since there is a "huge, unsatisfied demand for real estate in the U.K.," according to Mr. Ritblat. He noted that about 207 trillion pounds is invested in U.K. residential real estate and about 300 billion pounds in commercial real estate. Entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac don't exist in the United Kingdom, and fixed-rate mortgages are not available.

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