The number of profit warnings issued by listed real estate companies rose fivefold in the first half of 2020 compared to last year, as Covid-19 forced investors and REITs to reassess their forecasts.

EY’s latest Profit Warning report tracked 24 profit warnings from 26% of the FTSE real estate companies during the period.

There were 16 profit warnings in Q1 and eight in Q2, compared to just six in 2019.

Some 36% of FTSE real estate investment and service businesses issued warnings, compared to 19% of REITs. This compares to an average of 33% across all companies.

Helen Pratten, EY strategy and transactions partner, said: “Covid-19 bas been cited in all real estate profit warnings as the pandemic exposed underlying structural weaknesses and existing challenges.

“Bricks-and-mortar retail is changing, and it is uncertain when students will return en masse to universities or when hospitality will recover. Whilst a buoyant and successful future is envisaged, the sector must plan and adapt whilst navigating the short term.”