The Mile High Club

I’ve always thought the mile high club was something of a myth. Have you been in an airline toilet…could you….would you want to….what about the queue?  Anyway, myth or not, an enterprising company in Ohio have made the whole thing a lot more comfortable.  Through Flamingo Air, and for around $400, you can hire your own private flight for two, complete with curtained love nest, chocolates and champagne.  Oh, and one very discreet pilot.

It’s not something I think I’ll be booking any time soon – a similar embarrassment factor to booking a room by the hour I’d imagine – but what do I know? If there’s a market for this in Ohio, where else might it work. Team up with a commercial pilot with  a plane and time on his hands and  there could be the beginnings of a lucrative joint venture.

Streetwise Property Alert 8th January 2014

As well as these daily emails, we also offer seven more specific weekly services – France, Spain, America, London, Hotel, Investment and Lifestyle Property Alerts. Here, as an example, is this week’s alert from France Property Alerts…

France – Investor Sentiment

Colliers International’s 2014 Global Investor Sentiment report makes interesting reading, offering a range of investors’ views across worldwide markets. For Western Europe, 41 per cent of investors expect to see improving investment conditions this year. Not as high as you’d like? Better than MENA, Middle East and North Africa, where the figure is just 15 per cent.

Generally, and we quote, ‘Investors in Europe are seeing opportunities in secondary stock in need of capital expenditure to bring them up to an institutional investment grade standard.’ Most popular location? ‘Germany is on course for another strong year and is the preferred European target market for investors, followed by France.’

Talking France, the report states that a disproportionate amount of capital has gone into the safe haven markets of Europe – Paris, London and other leading cities. It suggests that there may be better value elsewhere. If the interest is there – we need a show of hands – we can put together some commentary on the property markets in various cities across France. Let us know?

Paris News

We are, from this month, offering quarterly inspection trips to Paris to see the latest properties for sale, look at up-and-coming locations and chat to experts. The first visit – and it is for HNW & S investors only who are looking to invest in Paris in 2014 – is 25 to 27 January. Email for details.

Latest news? According to figures from The Paris Notaries, there are several key areas of interest to bottom fishers. The Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the Champs-Elysees districts have seen apartment prices fall by 18 per cent year-on-year, Q2 2012 to Q2 2013. We are awaiting latest figures but will visit at the end of the month.

There are increasing sales, or so we are told anecdotally, to overseas buyers in these districts. Alexander Kraft of Sotheby’s International Realty says, ‘We’ve really seen an influx of foreign buyers snapping up properties. They’ve seen that prices compared to other major cities such as London, New York, Hong-Kong are still comparatively affordable.’

Pound – Euro Update

Buying in France? You need a weekly currencies update from Peter Lavelle at Pure FX. Here’s his latest…

Sterling has got its groove back, big-time! The pound leapt for the second week on the trot against the euro last week, up to 1.2074.

How come? Well, first, it’s because the UK’s factories expanded for the ninth consecutive month in December, adding to optimism about the UK’s economic outlook. As Capital Economics’ Samuel Tombs notes, ‘We believe the manufacturing sector will continue to recover in 2014.’

Second, it’s also because the European Central Bank looks certain to hold interest rates close to 0.0 per cent this year, unlike the Bank of England. This looks likely to ‘have a profound impact on the euro’ as HSBC’s Daragh Maher argues, meaning the common currency may well tumble.

In fact, sterling may climb 3 cents versus the euro to reach 1.2350 this year, according to a recent Bloomberg poll. So, look for a pound on the rise in 2014!

If you need to transfer money abroad, and are looking for guidance about the best way to do it, call us on +44 (0) 1494 671800 or email We’d be happy to help.

1st February Seminar

We – that’s David Burgess, Jeannie Lumb and myself – are running a free ‘Investing In 2014’ property seminar at the Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel in London on Saturday 1 February. You, plus one, are invited – but you need to tell us you want to attend sooner rather than later.

The event will comprise short talks by the three of us about the new investing landscape, how it will change your investing activities and, softly, softly, we will also present one two opportunities that may be well suited to you.

The event will start at 10.30am, with tea and coffee, with talks from 11.00am to 1.00pm. We will then talk one-on-one, or in smaller groups, with investors about whatever you want to discuss. We’ve set aside an hour for that but are happy to do one…two…or three hours if you want to know more.

Ski Market – One To Watch?

Julian Walker at says, not unreasonably, that the upcoming Winter Olympics will see greater interest in the ski market and related properties. ‘The Winter Olympics never fails to inspire people to hit the slopes. Having the event in Sochi is especially exciting for Russians, the host nation, though, as the wealthier ones already having an affinity to selected Alpine resorts, such as Courchevel. Overall, foreign buyers, including Middle Easterners, are realising that France’s severe taxation of its rich residents won’t affect them as non-resident owners of ski homes, so they are taking advantage of the opportunities to purchase a euro asset that comes with strong lifestyle appeal and long-term investment potential.’

Taking a slightly wider view, we note that the Knight Frank Prime Ski Property Index lists the ski resort property markets that have seen the biggest percentage change in prices over the past 12 months (to end H2 2013). The index? 1. South Lake Tahoe, United States – 20.9 (per cent);
2. Queenstown, New Zealand – 18.6; 3. Zermatt, Switzerland – 14.1; 4. Davos, Switzerland – 10; 5. Morzine, France – 8.5; 6. Chamonix, France – 8; 7. Aspen, United States – 7.4; 8. Whistler, Canada – 6.3; 9. Verbier, Switzerland – 6.2; 10. St Moritz, Switzerland – 2.6; 11. Gstaad, Switzerland – 2.4; 12. Telluride, United States – 2.1; 13. Sochi, Russia – 1.3. Let us know if you are interested in more detailed reports for those resorts placed fifth and sixth.

All for now but if you’d like to sign up to receive weekly alerts from France, Spain, America, London, Hotel, Investment and/or Lifestyle Property Alerts, just email back – but don’t forget to tell us which ones you want to receive!

Streetwise Property Alert 7th January 2014

Today we have the weekly currencies review from Peter at Pure FX for you…

Welcome to Pure FX’s first weekly update of the foreign exchange rate of 2014!

Pound To Euro

Sterling has got its groove back, big-time! The pound leapt for the second week on the trot against the euro last week, up to 1.2074.

How come? Well, first, it’s because the UK’s factories expanded for the ninth consecutive month in December, adding to optimism about the UK’s economic outlook. As Capital Economics’ Samuel Tombs notes, ‘We believe the manufacturing sector will continue to recover in 2014.’

Second, it’s also because the European Central Bank looks certain to hold interest rates close to 0.0 per cent this year, unlike the Bank of England. This looks likely to ‘have a profound impact on the euro’ as HSBC’s Daragh Maher argues, meaning the common currency may well tumble.

In fact, sterling may climb 3 cents versus the euro to reach 1.2350 this year, according to a recent Bloomberg poll. So, look for a pound on the rise in 2014!

Pound To US Dollar

Sterling gets an injection of nitro!

The pound rocketed 3 cents against the US dollar to 1.6603 last week, its highest since August 19 2011. Moreover, there’s good reason to think the pound will continue to climb.

First, this is because the Bank of England will likely be forced to consider whether to raise interest rates or not, early this year. There is a ‘high likelihood’ that the UK will create more than +300,000 new jobs in 2014, according to the CIPD’s Mark Beatson, taking us below the 7.0 per cent unemployment rate at which the Bank of England has said it will consider raising interest rates. This will lift the pound.

Second, the US Federal Reserve looks set to maintain what it calls its ‘ZIRP’ (Zero Interest Rate Policy), in spite of the fact that it’s now cutting back its gigantic economic stimulus. In fact, at his press conference last month, Fed chief Ben Bernanke left it crystal clear that interest rates would stay at 0.0 per cent, well beyond the point at which joblessness falls below 6.5 per cent. This will hurt the buck.

With this in mind, it looks like there’s one direction for the pound in 2014, and that’s up!

Get In Touch

If you need to transfer money abroad, and are looking for guidance about the best way to do it, call us on +44 (0) 1494 671800 or email We’d be happy to help.

Have a fantastic New Year!

That’s it, see you again tomorrow.


What’s The Price?

In pre-internet days life was a lot simpler – or so it seemed. You asked the price of something and that was the price you’d pay. Once a year, companies would have a price hike, and then in January, they’d have a sale.  What went up only came down in the annual sale, and what came down in the sale – stayed down.

The travel and hotels companies were the first to lead the way with more flexible pricing. Through complex computer algorithms, they are able to constantly adjust their prices up and down in response to seasonality , timing and fluctuating demand. Now companies in other fields are following suit.  For example, according to consumer price research  firm Decide.Inc, a GE microwave ovens price was changed nine times in just one day by it’s seller last month in response to market forces. Prices ranged from $744 to $871.

Now we don’t all have access to the technology that makes this kind of thing automatic (I know that I don’t)  but it certainly gives food for thought. How could you introduce a little mutually beneficial price flexibility into your business?

Streetwise Property Alert 6th January 2014

We hope you all had a very pleasant Christmas and New Year. We are now back at work 9 to 5 but, like many of you, we have a mountain of catch-up work to do today. So, for now, a report from our friends Jeannie Lumb and David Burgess…

Here’s a quick report back from our latest trip to The Convent. Over the weekend, a number of investors joined ourselves and the owner to look around this awe-inspiring project and to see first hand the ongoing development plans.

Sitting in the comfort of the Private Members’ Club we discussed many aspects of the project and the funding investment. Matt Roberts, the owner, was very informative and open regarding all questions investors asked. Work is well underway on the first phase of the hotel and it’s
great to see how it’s all progressing.

As the funding process gathers pace, what we’re now finding is that this project is selling itself – once investors hear the facts and talk with Matt, most people then decide to move forward. The typical amount invested is turning out to be £25-30,000 with a number investing substantially more.

The amount of the funding opportunity available to Streetwise members on this investment is £1 million and we are moving towards this figure much quicker than anticipated.

The owner of The Convent and ourselves (Jeannie and Dave) are confident that the investment opportunity on this exciting, very interesting, secure – and high yielding – roject, will close early. We’ve had a great deal of interest from members and we now advise anyone who has inquired and is thinking it over – or newly interested members – to move forward now.

This is an exceptional investment offer and a coup for Streetwise Property Alert members – but it is time limited.

We have a number of formal visit and seminar dates at The Convent: January 19th (with your editor), February 9th, 11th and 23rd. If you can’t make these dates, then a personal visit to The Convent can be arranged to suit you – please contact Jeannie on 07939563538 to arrange.

The main points again are;

10 per cent per annum return on investment

Investment secured against the property

All funding administrated by solicitors, not released until security in place

Clear exit strategy at 3 or 5 years with bonus

Choice of investment level from £10,000

Please contact us for further details and information on how to registeryour interest.

And finally, we’re very appreciative of the great support and generosity shown to the Martin House Children’s Hospice appeal and we’d like to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year and all the best for 2014.

That’s it other than to say that we will have news and views tomorrow along with, much requested, a list of ‘what’s happening’ events coming soon.

Old Guys (and Gal’s) Rule!

Judging by the correspondence I receive,  the age  spread of our customers is definitely skewed towards the middle and upper end. This has always surprised me because it’s supposed to be the young  who are entrepreneurial and ambitious. But a piece of research I just read suggests I shouldn’t be surprised at all.

According to a survey by the Kauffman Foundation, Americans aged 55 to 64 start new business ventures at a higher rate than any other age group, including twenty-somethings.  Twenty three percent of new US entrepreneurs are now aged 55 to 64. That’s up from 14% fifteen years ago.

I still hear from people in their forties and fifties who feel like they’ve missed the boat. The truth is that it’s never too late, and an increasing number of people are discovering that.

Streetwise Property Alert 3rd January 2014

Welcome to today’s news and views…

Looking Back & Forwards

The latest ONS House Price Index – October – suggests the UK property market as a whole is up 5.5 per cent price-wise over the past year and that London has seen prices rise by 12 per cent. Take London out of the mix and the UK has seen 3.1 per cent price rises over the year.

James Hall of estate agent Fishneedwater is quoted in the media as saying, ’12 per cent annual house price growth in London is one hell of a big number. There’s little doubt that the charge in UK house prices is being led by the South East and London, and this data really drives that home.’

‘While 3.1 per cent feels like an appropriate and sustainable rate of growth, 12 per cent is seriously toppy. In the capital, gazumping is a regular occurrence and properties are selling well over asking price in many areas. The market is disconnecting from economic reality.?The refocusing of the Funding for Lending Scheme could see the rate of growth slow but that will be no bad thing.’ That’s a fair assessment from where we are sitting.

Bridging – 2014 Service?

We are, if the interest is there, happy to provide more regular bridging news in 2014. We note that a survey of 250+ intermediaries by West One Loans suggests this is a growing sector of the market. It’s said that those interviewed expect bridging loans to rise by one-third in 2014 to reach £2.7 billion.

Bridging loans provide crucial support for creditworthy borrowers and great ideas. In a warming economic climate, that support is vital for growth. Bridging has grown up over the course of the recession just as most mainstream lenders have wandered into troubled waters. Now that the economy is picking up, all forms of alternative finance are steaming ahead and bridging in particular is making the most of the competitive advantage won in the dark days of recession.’ Let us know your thoughts?

Warning – Quick House Sales

I don’t know about you, but we receive emails from what the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) calls ‘quick house sale companies’ almost every day. I guess we are on many property-related lists. It’s worth mentioning, as it does not seem to be as blindingly obvious to all members as it should be, that these companies have one characteristic in common – they offer a quick but seriously under-priced sale. In short, you get money fast but nowhere near market value.

The OFT has just stated that some quick house sale companies offer misleading valuations, cut offer prices at a late stage and have less-than-transparent fees. Four companies – Box MX, BTA Properties, Property Rescue and Gateway Homes UK – have been named and are making changes to their practices.

Gaucho Rasmussen at the OFT says, ‘We are pleased these companies have constructively worked with us and agreed to undertakings which will provide greater clarity and confidence to consumers considering a quick house sale. We expect others in the sector to take note of the information we have provided and review their own practices. Moving house can be very stressful and it is important consumers understand how a quick house sale differs from a more traditional type of sale and what this means for them in practice.’ Surely this can all be summed up
in one word? ‘Avoid’.

See you soon.

The Homeless Tour

We’ve discussed unusual holiday, travel and tour opportunities in the past, and there’s none more unusual than that provided by Mick Momany in Seattle. Mick is homeless, but perhaps not for long. You see he charges people $2,000 for  3 day/2 night tours of the homeless sites and areas around the city.  Around $1,500 goes to Momany, and the rest goes to homeless charities.

It’s not my idea of a holiday, but we’re all different. It just goes to show the range of opportunities in this field is wider than we might think. What kind of tour could you run?

Streetwise Property Alert 2nd January 2014

Here we are in 2014 and some timely news and views for you…

2014 Outlook

The big headline in the industry is that Rightmove predicts property prices will rise 8 per cent in 2014. Over to director Miles Shipside, ‘There’s a listing gap to fill. While sales transactions are up 13 per cent so far in 2013, the number of newly listed properties is only up by 2 per cent. To help mitigate the upwards pressure on prices it is important that home-owners who have a move on their minds make it a new year’s resolution to spring into action. After six years afflicted by the credit-crunch, there’s a definite window to move up or move on in 2014 before the market’s usual pre-election pause in early 2015.’

‘A good and plentiful choice of property for sale would limit sellers from getting over-ambitious with their asking prices and result in a national average increase closer to 6 per cent. It would also give those who are buying a better chance of finding their dream home at a more affordable price.’

‘As the momentum of recovery increases, areas with the largest shortages of fresh property supply are likely to see more substantial price rises, with the South East among the regions where listings are most scarce. The strength of the market recovery will remain patchy however, with average incomes, employment and regeneration levels having a major say both north and south. Overall, agents in even the more depressed parts of the UK say they can see light at the end of the tunnel, though they also observe that there is a lot of stale stock in these slower moving areas to be cleared before prices can rise.’

Time To Remortgage?

Mark Dyason of Edinburgh Mortgage Advice suggests that as interest rates can only rise, it’s time to look at remortgaging. We’re talking residential mortgages, of course, although the point applies across the board.

What to do? Mark Dyason indicates medium- to long-term fixing offers a fantastic choice but that a new tranche of regulations next year may make it harder for some borrowers to remortgage. ‘It will become more difficult to secure a mortgage this year as a result of these changes.’

More to come.

Averages – A Reminder

A new report by the Smith Institute reminds us, if we needed reminding, that averages mask a range of performances. For example, property prices in parts of London are now well above their 2007 peaks whilst other areas such as Wales are some 20 per cent off those heady numbers. ‘What we have witnessed over the past six years is the growth of two distinct and divergent housing markets: a London-centric property market where house prices have recovered and in some cases soared; and
the rest of England and Wales where prices are flat and transactions are low.’

‘The divergence is symptomatic of deep-rooted and persistent uneven economic development, with jobs and growth concentrated in London and the south-east. Perhaps just as worryingly, if investment in new homes follows demand for housing. it will result in more economic activity
and growth in these places, thus further unbalancing the economy.’

‘An unbalanced housing market undermines national productivity and competitiveness by making it extremely difficult and expensive for people to move for work from low-cost housing areas to high-cost housing areas. A widening housing price divide also exacerbates income and wealth inequalities between places and constrains local and national efforts to rebalance the economy. Investors are wary of investing in places where house values are flat or falling. Overseas investment in particular is attracted to the high-value market in London, raising the risk of a speculative housing bubble – which would be damaging to the economy.’

All for today, see you on Friday.