The property market is twitchy

office block Image copyright Oli Scarff, Getty Images

The news that Standard Life has suspended a £2.9bn commercial property fund is the kind of thing that makes markets and regulators very jumpy indeed. Let me take a moment to explain why.

Most investment funds always leave a bit of ready cash in the kitty in case the odd investor decides he or she wants their money back.

When a lot of people want their money back at the same time, you have to start selling stuff to raise enough cash and that is a major problem if what you own is office blocks.

They are not easy to sell at short notice. Other investors, who hadn't really wanted their money back, now think they might not be able to - and so they suddenly do want it back.

In itself, it is not a deafening alarm bell.

Unpleasant fug

As anyone who has bought or sold a house knows property is naturally a lumpy rather than a "liquid" thing to sell.

However, the news comes on the heels of other warning signs. A Singapore Bank suspended lending to investors in the London property market, housebuilders have seen their shares slump since last Thursday and this morning we saw the weakest data from the construction industry in seven years.

There's an unpleasant fug hovering around the property market and it's one that the chancellor will try to air out when he meets bank bosses tomorrow.

Apart from the construction industry and commercial property investors the other group with heavy exposure to property of all kinds are of course the banks.

Their shares have also been pummelled post Brexit and the chancellor will want to hear from them what it is they need to ensure jitters in commercial property don't spread.

The good news is they are in much better shape than in 2008, and the Bank of England has new tricks up its sleeve to calm nerves and has been pro-active in hinting that an interest rate cut and more money printing may be just around the corner.

The governor Mark Carney and the chancellor will be hoping that these inoculations will be enough to keep the sniffles from turning nasty.