Marketing When Jobs Are In Jeopardy

It seems counter-intuitive to be adapting your companies products and services to cater for the unemployed or job-insecure, but it can pay dividends.

Tour operator JetBlue has put in place a ‘promise programme’ which allows passengers who lose their job after booking, to cancel and get a refund without penalty. This is contrary to the companies’ usual ‘no cancellation’ policy. Other companies in the tourism industry have taken a similar stance, tailoring their marketing to an uncertain economy.

Norwegian Cruise Lines offer insurance to cover job losses, Elite Island Resorts offer to  trade ‘worthless’ Wall Street stocks for a stay at their resorts, and even drastically reduced ski-passes are available  at Lake Tahoe for those who can prove they’re on the dole. Some companies are finding that the recently jobless, with more time on their hands, are booking longer trips.

If you’ve been ignoring, or avoiding, the unemployed or ‘worried working’ in your marketing, it could be worth thinking how you might embrace them instead. The key, I think, is to come up with a way to reduce both the cost and risk of dealing with you.

Streetwise Property Alert 24th October 2013

Welcome to today’s email…
Antigua Update

We note that Antigua and Barbuda has just launched its own version of Spain’s Golden Visa; the ‘Citizenship by Investment’ Programme (CIP). To receive an Antigua passport and citizenship, investors must contribute $250,000 to Antigua’s National Development Fund; make a real estate investment of $400,000; or a business investment of $1.5million. More to come on this; some of you followed up on the comments I made after we returned from Antigua in late August and we are now introducing properties to you there along with a report on the island’s property market

London – Look Beyond Prime Central

A year or two back, when we set up the paid-for London Property Alerts service, one or two overseas BTL investors were sceptical of some of the deals we were delivering to the south of the city. Why look beyond Prime Central, they asked. New research from Benham & Reeves offers some clues.

Rents have risen faster in south London over the past three months than anywhere else. Rents in Greenwich have increased by 11 per cent over the past year and Bermondsey, Southwark and the South Bank are not far behind. By the by, the two Greenwich units we mentioned the other day have now been taken so no more replies for those please.

‘Greenwich’s growth isn’t a huge surprise to us. It is a beautiful part of London with great transport links to the City and Canary Wharf. Until recently, it has mainly been viewed as a part of London that is great for families but with a number of new developments being built around the Greenwich Peninsula area, younger people are now flocking to the area.’ More to come on this part of London soon. Have you signed up to the free London Property Alerts service? It’s a good place to start.

Email back and we will sign you up.

UK Checklist & Course

If you are buying into the UK from overseas, we have a free due diligence checklist and investors’ course; in essence, re-runs of what we offered from Mick Rawlinson and co this time last year. Every UK BTL investor should ask for these.

Spain – An Update

According to the General Council of Notaires, foreigners bought 14,593 homes in Spain in Q2 2013; up 23 per cent on the same quarter last year. Mark Stucklin of Spanish Property Insight says, ‘Talk to any agent selling Spanish property to foreign buyers and they will tell you that most of their clients are non-resident, to the tune of 80 per cent in many cases.’

Marc Pritchard, of Taylor Wimpey Espana adds, ‘The final quarter of this year is set to be great in terms of sales, surpassing the levels previous to the economic crisis with sustained growth of international visitors and second home buyers not just picking up a Spanish visa but bringing with them the power to propel national market recovery.’ We have a stream of Sareb deals now coming through and we are passing these on to serious investors who want to know more; i.e. those members who have finance, are ready to buy and know what they want and where.

That’s it for today, see you again tomorrow.

Streetwise Property Alert 23rd October 2013

Welcome to today’s news and views…

Help To Buy

Not sure if members want us to cover Help To Buy; let us know. It’s something that I am looking at closely at present as, by and large; we are hoping to shift one of our children over from ‘Dad To Buy’ to ‘Help To Buy’. Have to say the rates don’t fill me with encouragement. Brendan Cox of Waterfords estate agents calls it well albeit strongly, ‘There has been a hugely positive reaction to Help to Buy in the weeks leading up to its launch which has got many people excited at the prospect of making a move. Now however, in what I believe puts the Government in a very embarrassing position, people are being told they can buy through the scheme, but will have to pay nearly twice the interest rates of anyone else.’

‘It is scandalous and one of two things will happen. The scheme, which has been largely publicised, will fall flat and never actually get off the ground or people will go with it, because they have no other option, and will later find they cannot afford the repayments, which will result in a substantial rise in repossessions. We are supposed to be helping buyers not setting them up to fail and I can see no logical reason as to why lenders are imposing such high rates when there is no greater risk to them. I would call on all those lenders within the scheme to explain the reasoning behind their rates, so that buyers can understand exactly why they are paying such a high price.’ We can do a short report, fairly quickly – a few days – if the interest is there. Over to you.

More Licences- Coming Soon

How long before every council has licences in place for every landlord; sooner rather than later for sure. The BBC has a news story today stating ‘A Lincolnshire council is planning to introduce a licensing system for landlords. Boston Borough Council said the licenses could cost upwards of £490. The National Landlord Association said it could put up costs for good tenants. Gavin Dick, from the Association, said, ‘There’s over 100 pieces of legislation that landlords have to comply with that the council can use to drive out criminal landlords’.’ As ever, if you are buying property in a new area, do talk to the council at the earliest stage.

Selling Time Savvy

If, before investing, you give thought, as you should do, to exit strategies, you’ll be interested to know how long it takes to sell properties in different parts of the country. The website looked at 634,000 pieces of property-related data to conclude that it takes, rule of thumb, 65 days to sell in London and the Home Counties. The spread is significant though, ranging from 20 days in parts of Cambridge to almost 250 days in Mablethorpe.

‘The contrast in the time to sell data serves as a reality check for some of the local markets. The differential between the shortest and longest selling times is substantial, standing at over 200 days or 6.5 months. It is clear that price falls in these struggling markets are not enough to stimulate transaction levels. The real victims of the property bust and subsequent austerity measures, such areas are still suffering with very poor economic performance and low confidence amongst local buyers. Help to Buy could be focused on these deflating markets, and that would deliver real help where it is needed.’ More to come.

All for today, see you tomorrow.

Selling Magazine Pages

This isn’t a new opportunity, but it’s so easy for anyone to start up that it’s worth revisiting. Here’s what you do.

Buy up a stack of old magazines – the older the better – and go through them to find interesting pages. Typically these will be advertisements from a bygone era. Carefully scan them and then offer for sale via eBay. As an additional service, you could offer to mount and frame the pages. If you do a search on eBay, you’ll see what sort of things are on offer and what sells

An additional source of revenue could be to directly approach the companies who placed the ad’s originally – assuming they’re still around. They may be interesting in securing copies of their old advertisements for their archive or for display purposes.

You probably won’t get rich doing this, but it’s an interesting part time project to have a go at during the dark winter nights.

Streetwise Property Alert 22nd October 2013

International property news and views today…

German Investment Reminder

Have we sent you the brochures for the German investment that we keep going on about? In case we haven’t, and you may be interested, we have some initial information ready to send out on request. There’s also loads of back up information, due diligence reports, etc – more than we’ve had for just about any investment ever. Well worth a look, believe me.

Dubai- Same Again?

OPP News has an interesting story this week on Dubai. It refers to the Jones Lang LaSalle report which it says ‘makes worrying – or is it exciting – reading’. It gives us some broadbrush numbers – Dubai has a population of 2.1 million. The current housing stock is around 364,000 units. 13,000 units are being built this year; 3.6 per cent of stock. By 2015, 45,000 homes, 12 per cent of total housing stock, will be built. The population growth is about 5 per cent a year.

Further down the line, reports OPP News, ‘Improved confidence, economic growth and rising demand have encouraged developers to announce new large-scale projects such as the Mohammad Bin Rashid City; Dubai Sustainable City; Jumeirah Island Park by Nakheel; Emaar’s The Hills, Burj Vista in Downtown, The BLVD and The Address Residences. These announced projects are likely to be ready by 2016 to 2018.’ ‘So where will the buyers come from?’ wonders OPP News. We’d add, Which should come first – demand or supply?’ Food for thought.

Greece- Time To Look?

According to Rightmove Overseas’ 2013 Consumer Survey, Greece is the surprise entry near the top of the chart. It is the third most popular destination for people buying to relocate abroad. Greece is also the fourth most popular place for those buying for investment purposes. Luke Smith, Managing Director of Crystal Investment and Real Estate is in the news offering comments, ‘We have certainly seen an upsurge in bargain-hunters interested in investing in real estate in Greece from UK and international investors. The market in holiday properties is reasonably buoyant, certainly compared with other sectors of the Greek economy. We will almost certainly see a surge in demand for residential property from non-Europeans looking to secure a residency permit in the EU over the coming months.’

‘The cost of living in Greece is substantially lower than in Britain and there are many low-cost flights to the country. And Greece offers something for everyone, from party animals to nature-lovers to people who just want to sit and watch the sunset with a glass of ouzo. Greece is also giving speedy residency to buyers of any property from just €250,000 ($329,075); think a version of Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’ scheme. Interested in Greece? Let us know. We can do a four-page report from our correspondents there.

Brazil Seminar – Hurry

The Brazil deal we’ve been introducing for not far off two years now has delivered exactly as promised for everyone and there is growing interest amongst members. We now have just six plus one invitations to join me in London on 21 November to find out all you need to know about this investment opportunity. I am happy to meet before or after as well for a chat and, for those flying in or coming by train into London we can arrange pick-ups and returns. Please do get back to me asap if you wish to come along; places are going fast.

By the by, We’ve just received the latest currencies review from Peter at Pure FX. Email back if you’d like us to send that to you.

Riding The Cycling Boom

There’s no doubt that cycling is on the up. You only have to be out on the roads in summer to realise that the number of recreational cyclists has multiplied. And the number of people using their bikes to commute has grown too. I might even be tempted to join them were it not for one thing – I don’t want to arrive at work sweaty, and then spend the day feeling scruffy. Commuters in Sao Paolo, Brazil have the perfect solution.

Café and bicycle repair shop Aro 27 offers commuters showering facilities as well as a place to safely park their bike. Aro 27 functions not only as a restaurant, but also a shop to buy cycling equipment and a repair center and workshop to fix punctures or more serious problems. Visitors are able to park their bike in Aro 27′s secure storage and even enjoy a shower to freshen up before they hit the road again.

Might commuters in UK cities be prepared to pay to park their bike and shower before going off to work? Certainly, I know that many large firms already offer these facilities, but there must be many smaller ones that don’t. Something to research if you’re interested.

Streetwise Property Alert 21st October 2013

Property Market Update

According to new figures from LSL Property Services, UK house prices rose £263 a week in September. The average house price is now £235,534. Sales are also up; 12 per cent year-on-year. David Brown of LSL Property Services says 2013 is the year of the first-time buyer. ‘What a difference six months makes. We’ve seen banks ease criteria on mortgages for people with small deposits, which has opened the door to new buyers who have spent years on the outside looking in. More people are in work. Inflation has begun to ease. And clearer forward guidance on interest rates has brought more certainty and confidence.’

‘It is starting to unclog the blockage at the bottom end of the market, which is helping make the whole system more fluid. Demand has been bottled up by a lack of mortgage finance, but now mortgages have been made more accessible the backlog of buyers has spilled onto the market after years of frustration, scrimping and saving’

‘First-time buyer numbers are still some way short of their historic levels. It is not a boom or a bubble; it is a market correction, albeit a fairly quick one. The only boom is the loud noises coming from alarmists and sensationalists warning about a return to the bad old days. We’re not even close to that. There is no sub-prime mortgage lending, no lending above 95 per cent LTV. Credit checks are tough, rates are fairly high on high-LTV mortgages and lenders now carry out stringent affordability checks for every single mortgage.’

‘The South East is dominating the market because it has more equity-rich buyers, with London the target for scores of foreign property investors. The improvements in the North are much less pronounced, and there is still plenty of room for improvement. Help to buy is needed to make the market accessible to the many, not just the few. It does, however, need to be complimented by more house building so supply keeps pace with demand.’ We are about to introduce a series of properties that may be suitable for first-time buyers as well as for BTL investors. Keep reading.

BTL Basics

Property experts William H Brown are delighted to offer these top tips to landlords and buy-to-let investors in the current market. We are quoting.

Research the market: It’s vital to research every aspect of your buy-to-let investment, from whether you are getting the best rate on your mortgage to what yield you can expect in the area you choose to buy in. Make sure you get advice from a reputable local lettings on the demand they are seeing for rental property

Choose your lettings agent with care: Whether you require an agency to simply find you a tenant or manage the property on an ongoing basis, choose a reputable, self-regulating agency. Agents should be able to demonstrate how they comply with industry best practice; for instance, they should have Client Money Protection, be members of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) and be part of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Consider renovating: Buying a property in need of some refurbishment or renovation can be an effective way of picking up a great property at a discounted price. Provided you have done the maths and are fully aware of the costs needed to get the property up to rental standards, buying
a ‘do me up’ home can be a good option.

To manage or not to manage: Consider how hands on you want to be once you have tenants in the property. If you would rather avoid having to drop everything and deal with calls from tenants, it is best to pass property management over to a reputable local lettings agency.

Commit for the long term: In today’s housing market, it is advisable to focus on the yield rather than the chance of short-term house price increases.

Get financial advice: Consult an accountant and/or tax advisor on how your property investment should be set up and what costs you can set off against your rental income.

Google William H. Brown to find your local branch for more local advice.

London Letting News

According to new research from Hamptons International, more than half of London tenants are now from overseas – and that figure rises to three-quarters in Prime Central. Demand is driven by Western Europeans who make up 24 per cent of tenants, North Americans at 8 per cent, Asians at 7 per cent and Eastern Europeans at 6 per cent.

‘International tenants have been central to lettings market growth across London and are particularly prevalent in central London. Those worried about the performance of the top segment of the rental market as sales pick up should take note; the community of international skilled migrants looking for premium, short to medium term rental property in the Capital is only set to grow as the economy improves. Demand from this group will likely make up for any established UK renters taking advantage of increased mortgage availability to move across from renting to home ownership.’

All for now, see you soon.

The Taste Truck

The Four Seasons hotel chain in California is using a ‘Taste Truck’ – a roving restaurant that offers passers-by a taste of the cuisine available to its guests. The food truck pitches up and offers a sample of the meals from the hotel menus. The aim is to raise awareness of the meals available at Four Seasons hotels, as well as create an extra presence for the brand outside of its official venues.

I know you probably don’t run a hotel or restaurant, but if you do, this is an idea you could copy wholesale. Thinking more widely though,  if you have a  retail or service based business with a fixed location, is there some way you could take your business ‘on the road’ and thereby widen its exposure?

Profit From Smoking

Smokers must feel that they’re under siege these days, and that’s why any service that attempts to embrace them, rather than turn them away, will find a hungry market. The Howard Johnson Hotel chain in the US has seen occupancy soar since it turned its Grand Rapids hotel into a smoker’s paradise. Twenty rooms were renovated to accommodate smokers, and it was so successful, that there are plans to convert 60-80 of the hotels 155 rooms into smoking units.

This isn’t an idea I’d like to personally work with, but there’s no doubt that embracing smokers, rather than chastising them, can be very profitable. Is there some way you could accommodate smokers in your service based business, without antagonising your staff or other customers? And if there is, would you be comfortable doing it?

Streetwise Property Alert 18th October 2013

Thank you for your replies regarding upcoming visits to the student accommodation, the cemetery in Kent etc. It’s important to stress that these daily emails are, as one active investor was kind enough to say, ‘just the tip of the UKPA iceberg’ – there are lots of other things going on, including deals that never reach the membership, for the most active investors. Do get in touch if that means you.

UK Hotspots

If you can call a location a ‘hotspot’ because properties sell fast there, then reveal the latest hotspots for us.

In Greater London, the top five spots go to:

N5 (Highbury), homes sell in 20 days on average.

SM5 (Carshalton), 20 days.

E17 (Walthamstow), 23 days.

TW2 (Twickenham), 23 days.

E8 (Hackney), 24 days.

Elsewhere in the UK, the top five spots are:

BS3 (Bristol), 20 days.

CB1 (Cambridge), 20 days.

CB3 (Cambridge), 23 days.

CB4 (Cambridge), 23 days.

MK12 (Milton Keynes), 23 days.

Doug Shephard at adds, ‘This study shows that the property market is functioning very well in many parts of the country. In the high demand areas, the typical selling times can be as low as three weeks. Closer inspection of these high performance areas reveals thriving local economies driven by above average household incomes and greater confidence about economic futures.

Leasehold New

A press release by The British Property Federation (BPF) draws attention to the introduction of a new, time-saving sales process for leasehold transactions. The new process is based on a standardised questionnaire for the sector.

‘The commercial leasehold sector has had standard enquiries for 10 years and seen the advantages flowing from a more efficient conveyancing process. The same will be true of these residential enquiries and we will be promoting them amongst our membership as the standard for the sector.’ The new Leasehold Property Enquiries, Form LPE1, is available from today. More to come.

London – An Update

Talking of London, we have now arranged the first meeting of those of you who are looking at off-plan units in the capital. That takes place on Saturday. It’s something of a test run; we have invited just six regulars and we will spend half a day with them and they will tell us what they like and dislike before we roll out this service for November.

Have to say that the bottom of the end of the market is hotting up and we think active investors will soon see the benefits of our new service. A new report from Black Brick suggests that the Help to Buy scheme is ‘likely to fuel competition in the sub £600,000 market.’

‘Sealed bids and fierce competition remain part and parcel of the market for the best homes in London as growing international and domestic demand continue to outstrip supply. From a global perspective, the recent volatility in emerging market asset classes has further reinforced the attractions of prime central London property as a safe haven asset to the fast growing global pool of high net worth individuals.’

Talking London, we are told there are two units left at Woolwich – email back if you are interested and can view quickly. Please – do not reply if you are not an active investor with funds to finance.