These three solutions to put real estate in your life insurance

Selected by the insurer, these units of account generally group together UCITS, i.e. funds invested mainly in equities and corporate bonds. But stone-paper solutions are also eligible for units of account of a multi-support contract. More specifically, the three real estate solutions accessible in unit-linked units are SCPIs, OPCIs and SCIs.

Savers can therefore have access within their life insurance contract to the “real estate” asset class to diversify their assets while benefiting from the advantageous taxation of this savings solution. The historical volatility of real estate is lower than that of stocks. Its return historically is also higher than that of the fund in euros. Against a backdrop of steadily falling interest rates for several years, the return on funds denominated in euros has fallen significantly. In 2020, it came out on average around 1%.

Review the pros and cons of each of these three solutions.

SCPI

The acquisition of shares in SCPI (Société Civile de Placement Immobilier) allows, from around one hundred euros per share [1], to indirectly build up real estate assets by becoming co-owner of a real estate portfolio managed by a specialized management company.

Advantages :

  • The SCPI is a pure product because it is 100% invested in physical real estate.
  • Its real estate assets are very diversified, over several hundred or even thousands of assets and tenants, but also on different real estate segments both sectoral and geographic. In addition, there is a temporal pooling of risks: the so-called historical SCPIs indeed synthesize an average and overall performance of real estate acquired at all times of the cycles.
  • The park is mainly made up of offices and retail walls. It can also be diversified into real estate, logistics, hotels, managed residences, etc. The specific economic cycles of these different segments may prove to be complementary to each other.
  • SCPIs acquire assets in market segments that are generally inaccessible directly to a particular investor. This real estate is then accessible from around one hundred euros per SCPI share.
  • The potential income distributed by SCPIs has historically been fairly stable2. They also evolve independently of financial markets and are therefore less volatile than those of securities.
  • The potential dividends received can be reinvested in the SCPI, and therefore capitalized.
  • Units can be subscribed in scheduled installments.

Disadvantages:

  • Not all SCPIs are referenced in multi-media contracts. Most insurers choose SCPIs with variable capital. Few offer SCPIs with fixed capital.
  • Potential dividends paid quarterly cannot be withdrawn. They are either reinvested in the SCPI or in the euro fund.
  • Entrance fees are higher than other products offered in units of account. Pricing differs from one insurer to another.
  • SCPI units cannot be taken out on credit in life insurance.

The OPCI

OPCIs (real estate collective investment undertakings) are more recent stone-paper solutions than SCPIs.

An OPCI invests mainly in real estate (60% minimum), either directly or indirectly through SCPIs or other real estate solutions. The remaining assets are invested at a minimum of 5% in liquid assets and up to 35% in financial securities (stocks, bonds, UCITS).

Advantages :

  • The minimum 5% required in liquid assets ensures the liquidity of the product. They make it possible to cope with requests for redemptions from investors.
  • The financial pocket can be invested mainly in listed real estate, which ensures a large exposure to the real estate sector of a majority of the assets of the OPCI.
  • The financial pocket brings a surplus of diversification but also potentially of return.
  • The entry fees are lower than those of SCPI and amortization more quickly.

Disadvantages:

  • The supply in units of account is smaller than that in SCPI.
  • Sensitivity to equity markets is greater than that of SCPIs.
  • La performance [2] OPCIs is less linear than that of SCPIs because of their exposure to the equity markets.
  • Performances [3] may vary significantly from one OPCI to another.
  • The risk profile is higher than that of SCPIs.

Les SCI

SCIs (civil companies invested in real estate) are the latest in real estate solutions accessible in unit-linked units. They have even been specially created for life insurance contracts.

An SCI invests, often in open architecture, directly and indirectly in real estate, in all its forms: SCPI shares, usufructs of SCPI shares, OPCI shares, shares of listed real estate companies, securities of real estate companies or even of direct physical real estate.

Advantages :

  • SCIs are structurally very diversified products.
  • Real estate income distributed by the SCI remains in the envelope in units of account and is automatically reinvested. The SCI therefore ensures a recapitalization of income.
  • Entry and management fees are lower than those of other real estate units of account and are therefore amortized more quickly.
  • The net asset value is calculated on a weekly basis, which improves visibility on the evolution of the investment made by the saver.
  • Income volatility [4] a SCI is weak, which confers a certain protection of the patrimony.

Disadvantages:

  • Performance history [5] is still weak
  • Performances [6] averages are lower than those of SCPI and OPCI.

Savers with a very long investment horizon who are looking for full exposure to real estate can choose SCPIs. Depending on his risk aversion, he may turn to an OPCI. The SCI constitutes an innovative real estate solution, diversifying and not very volatile. It is complementary to SCPI and OPCI. Subscribed in units of account, each of these three solutions benefits from the life insurance tax system which is particularly attractive when the contract is held for at least 8 years. In addition, arbitrage (purchase and sale) within the units of account of a life insurance contract are not taxed as long as capital gains are not removed from the contract.

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