Tantalising Toes

False finger nails are an established product, but what about toes?  Six years ago, Maria Bariles dropped a box on her foot and lost her big toenail. It was summer and she wanted to wear open toed shoes. She came up with the idea of using an adhesive  which could be painted along with the rest of her toenails. This was the start of  her business, Nail Creations –  Appealing While Healing.

There must be a lot of women in this position. Even if they haven’t lost a nail, they may be unhappy with the look or shape of it. I don’t know how well this problem is catered for here in the UK (Maria Bariles’ business is in the US, but it could be worthy of further investigation.

Streetwise Property Alert 28th February 2014

Welcome to the latest round-up of news and views – and don’t forget to read those IPA and UKPA PDF newsletters over to the right…

Florida – A View

Agent Jerry Barker, talking to A Place In The Sun, says that confidence is returning to Florida. ‘There hasn’t been any significant building or real investment in the holiday property market since 2006 and this has supported a steady rental income for the owners of second homes around Disney and the theme parks. However, the developers returned to Orlando in 2013 and they are building new style resorts which are going to change the long-term vacation rental market.’

‘These new style plans include multi-million dollar water parks, bigger club houses, more leisure facilities and on site attractions all of which will be highly attractive to the 50 million plus holidaymakers who make the annual pilgrimage to Orlando. When it comes to the holiday home market you have to move with the times’

‘The new developments are in the same catchment area as the current villas but they have the trump card of more facilities and new furnishings. They are going to be tough competition for existing rental owners. They will draw business away and drive rental prices down in older properties as owners compete.’ Looking to invest in these units? Email back – a sufficient show of hands will secure a long article-short report and, possibly, a heavily subsidised visit.  admin@streetwisenews.com

Spain – Time To Buy?

Richard Way, Editor at The Overseas Guides Company, offers a heads up for would-be buyers in Spain, ‘It’s the turn of the British buyer to return to the overseas market in force – especially as the pound is expected to maintain and possibly gain value in coming months against the euro. Average property prices are expected to bottom out in Spain this year, but don’t expect growth to necessarily follow, as Spain’s depressed economy and oversupply of housing stock will hinder any upward pressure.’

‘That said, in the most sought-after areas of the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, Murcia, Costa Brava and Mallorca, prices have already stopped falling and in some cases are rising year-on-year. Buyers should have realistic expectations and recognise that market conditions have been built into many prices, so there is little point expecting to have an offer that is, for example, 30 per cent below the asking price accepted on a prime property.’ Well said!

BMV Holiday Homes

Isn’t it time you bagged a BMV bargain in Spain? Read on…

3 x NEW Spanish properties have just become available for purchase on a unique NO deposit, NO credit check, NO mortgage payment plans.

How It Works

We have included the below bullet points to give more information and an overview of how this process works, the costs etc.

How do these deals work? Much like a lease agreement you would get from a garage on a new or used car, you would first agree a price and term. You would then pay the agreed monthly payment over the agreed term and at the end of the term you own the car. It’s almost identical. The main benefits are you don’t need to put a deposit down and don’t need to pass a credit check.

What are the main benefits? – Apart form NO credit check and NO deposit, you agree and secure a price at the front end. This means that you will benefit from all capital appreciation over the term. Not only will you be paying the agreed loan off, but unlike a car, the asset is actually an appreciating one! The market appears to be at or towards the bottom and is on the rise again in some places!

What if I do not keep up repayments? The current owner keep the property in his/her name and the contract becomes void and you lose all monthly payments made to that date.

What are the fees? The fees vary dependent on the deal, but generally are circa £5,000 – £7,500 per deal.

What other fees are there to pay? The only other fees to pay are the legal fees to the solicitor who is drawing up the legal agreement between the owner and you. These are circa £700 per deal and we will always use a solicitor based in the country the property is in (for obvious reasons)

Mar De Crystal, Ribera Beach

Anyone can buy

No mortgage needed

All you pay are fees and legals

Monthly mortgage payments £422/507 euros

7 year mortgage / term

2 bedrooms

Fully furnished apartment

Communal pool

Located in Mar de Cristal on the Mar Menor Sea. The apartment comprises two, good-sized bedrooms with built-in wardrobes, one bathroom, fully equipped kitchen with separate utility area and a spacious lounge/diner. The kitchen is equipped with all modern appliances which include ceramic hob, oven, fridge/freezer, microwave and washing machine. The apartment also has air conditioning and a good size balcony. The complex has a good sized communal pool with children’s pool and is just a short walk to the blue flag beaches of the Mar Menor.

Beach: beautiful fine sandy beaches.

Promenade: long palm tree lined beach front.

Town centre: small and very Spanish with narrow streets.

Market: large Wednesday morning.

Boat Trip: B&F Ferry operates all year round across to the La Manga Strip.

Almeria, Spain

4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

No mortgage required

Anyone can buy


15 year payment plan

250,000 euros over 10 years

1388 Euros per month

This huge villa was built by the owner with the concept that all the rooms would be of extremely large proportions and the bedrooms would all lead to/from the dining room (6 metres x 6metres) and that all the bedrooms would be of roughly equal size (4 metres x 4 metres) and all have en-suites. The kitchen also leads of the dining room and is fully fitted with pine doors to the units The lounge is on the first floor and is the same size as the dining room. The dinng room and master bedroom have double doors that lead into the roofed porch which in turn leads to a tiled patio. Views down the valley to the pueblo of Albanchez are exceptional. Stands in 8,000 square metres.

Villanueva de San Juan

5 bedrooms (3 en-suite)

4 bathrooms

Swimming pool and garden

£180,000 spread over 10 years

£1,500 per month

Anyone can buy

No mortgage needed

Many uses, why not set up a B+B?

Great location

300 days of sunshine

Large living room with wood burning stove, large kitchen/ dining with original beams. Five bedrooms (three en-suite) with original beams, large bathroom. Gorgeous garden with swimming pool and stable block. This beautiful townhouse is situated in the lovely village of Villanueva de San Juan (pop. 1400) in the Sierra Sur – one of the most beautiful areas in Spain and already attracting walkers, nature lovers etc. It is also centrally situated on the Malaga/Seville/Cadiz borders with easy access to the cities of Seville, Malaga, Cadiz, Granada, Cordoba, Osuna, Moron de la Frontera, Olvera, Antequera and magnificent Ronda – most roughly within one hour drive The house itself sits in a small attractive square 100 yards from the centre of the village. It is an ideal family house, 200 years old and has been beautifully restored.

Email for details and/or to ‘go on the list’ for future introductions. admin@streetwisenews.com

France – FNAIM Review

France’s national association of estate agents has issued its annual review of the property market there and reports that sales and prices fell through 2013; prices outside of Paris, for example, fell by some 3 per cent. The biggest falls in prices were seen in Franche-Comté (-6 per cent), Brittany (-5.7 per cent) and Languedoc-Roussillon (-5.3 per cent). Price risers? Look at Aquitaine (+0.2 per cent) and Nord Pas-de-Calais (+0.1 per cent). In summary? ‘Neither buyers nor seller had an appetite to enter the market, with a weakness in both the number of properties being offered for sale and in the level of demand.’

France’s Brit – Friendly Hotspots

A recent report by the notaires reveals the most popular areas with international buyers. The department with the highest proportion of non-resident buyers is the Alpes-Maritimes (12 per cent), followed by the Creuse (11 per cent) and Dordogne (10 per cent). Some 70 per cent of foreign buyers already live in France and more than 30 per cent of non-resident buyers are French expatriates. Overall, for 2009-2013, non-resident foreigners accounted for some 2 per cent of buyers. Food for thought.

All for now, other than to remind you that we have a free seminar – Investing In Brazil – in London on the evening of 20 March. Do email back for more information!


The Folly Of Fame

The internet age has thrown up something never seen before, businesses set up with little or no thought to revenue and profits. The success of companies like Twitter and Facebook has caused a lot of would-be entrepreneurs to take their eye off the ball. They are exceptions. For most of us, we have to focus on making a profit.

Likes, views, members, users, followers and friends are fine but they don’t pay for the groceries. At some point – and preferably from day one – you need to develop a very clear idea how any ‘fame’ you’re able to create, will convert into money in the bank. If it won’t convert into cash, you don’t have a business – you have a hobby.

Streetwise Property Alert 27th February 2014

Welcome to today’s email of news and views. It’s a brief one as I’ve just got back from visiting a student accommodation site with some of you – details still available for the general membership – and am about to set off to visit the JV site, 50-50 profit share, 28 per cent plus profits! I think I’d better say no more replies for that please. Meantime…

Well Done Members!

We ran an introduction for Croydon units to the general membership before Christmas and these were all taken – well done to those who bought in! According to the local paper there, ‘Estate agents have said property prices in Croydon are “spiralling out of control” in the London property boom. ‘

Why? ‘Interest in buying a property in Croydon is high especially with the impending arrival of Westfield and Hammerson to the town centre as part of a £1bn redevelopment. According to statistics from property website Rightmove, an average house price in Croydon is £344,715 compared to £294,058 this time last year.’

Can we source more stock here? Yes, but we are not going to introduce it to the general membership as we get swamped with replies from those who, for one reason or another, are never going to progress to purchase. If you are seriously interested in Croydon – and you have funding in place now – do drop us a line and we can discuss requirements.

Property Market Update

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that year-on-year, property prices have increased across-the-board – 5.7 per cent in England, 4.8 per cent in Wales, 0.5 per cent in Scotland and 4.8 per cent in Northern Ireland. Also highlighted as seeing strong growth are the East of England, up 4.6 per cent, and the West Midlands,
up 4.3 per cent.

‘There’s certainly an infectious confidence bubbling around the marketplace, with many more aspiring buyers coming into the market. With solid growth in employment, record low mortgage rates and easing credit conditions, the property market is going from strength to strength. First time buyers have been spurred to action by cheaper rates, a boost in the available higher loan to value mortgages and government support in the form of the Help to Buy scheme. However, ultimately, a durable, successful property market requires the government to focus more on new house building in order to increase supply levels and keep up with rising demand.’

London – More News

Of course, as we always say here, an ‘average’ can mask a range of performances. Peter Rollings, chief executive officer of Marsh & Parsons, the agents in London, picks up on the Office of National Statistics figures and draws attention to London, ‘Like chinks of sunlight, house price growth is breaking out across the whole country; however the picture remains gloomier in Scotland and Wales where property prices are yet to surpass the pre-financial crisis peak of January 2008.’

‘The London property market is burning the brightest, with a 12.3 per cent annual house price increase in the capital hugely eclipsing the rate of growth witnessed elsewhere in the UK. In Prime London, the growth is even higher. We saw the average value of two bedroom properties rise by nearly £100,000 during 2013, following a 17 per cent annual growth. Across the capital, the ratio of supply and demand remains out of kilter, which is helping to push prices upwards.’

New BTL Bank

Working from a press release, we note, ‘A new challenger bank has launched with a promise to provide ‘straightforward and competitive’ savings and loans. Paragon Bank, part of the FTSE 250 Paragon Group – a buy-to-let mortgage specialist – has been granted a banking licence by the Prudential Regulation Authority.’ The bank will be headed by Richard Doe, who was at ING Direct UK. He says, ‘Paragon Bank will bring choice and customer focus to the UK banking market, by providing consumers with straightforward, competitive products that are transparent, easy to understand and manage. Our aim is to establish it as a trusted banking partner for our customers and business partners.’ More to come as we get it.

All for now, see you again soon.

Dorm In A Box

When a teenager is going off to University for the first time, they need a whole pile of stuff, and that’s the premise behind Dorm-In-A-Box. The US based service promises to put together everything you might need in one simple package. Because of bulk buying they claim to supply $1,200 of value for $349.

I’m not sure whether anyone is doing anything similar in the UK, but it could be worth investigating. Thinking more widely, are there any other life events or activities which lend themselves to this ‘In a box’ approach?  In the past, for example, we’ve featured a company supplying everything you need to camp at a festival, in one package. There have to be other opportunities to help people save time, money and thinking time by packaging up everything they might need in a particular circumstance.

Streetwise Property Alert 25th February 2014

With about 30 per cent of all enquiries received being about London and about half of those suggesting members have little or no real knowledge of the London market, we thought we’d talk about London today. If you are looking to buy into London read on…

My Little Joke

First things first, I occasionally make reference to the ’40 per cent off, 10 per cent yield brigade’ – meaning that members want us to source properties for them in London with 40 per cent off and double digit yields. Unfortunately, when I make this reference – which, to be frank, is a polite way of saying ‘halfwits’ – we get another wave of members wanting 40 per cent off, 10 per cent yields etc.

Let’s make it plain. Adam, our property finder, put it well this week. ‘Every agent I speak to inside the M25 says the market is red hot with a severe shortage of stock.’ What this means is that sellers do not need to give discounts – certainly not the 40 per cent off you might get for end of terrace tat in Middlesborough. Fact is, most properties go for asking price and higher in fast-moving areas (where sealed bids are not uncommon). Anyone who trundles along with the idea of ‘playing clever’, starting with a low bid with a view to slowly, slowly increases is going to get short shrift.

Put it this way. Adam, who many of you know, went to two ‘open house’ viewings over the weekend for a member. This is where agents invite people to come along during a one hour period. The first one had 60 people view it during that time and the second one had about 40 Both had offers by Monday in excess of the asking prices and both buyers are progressing immediately.

Yields? The average BTL yield across the UK is about 5 to 6 per cent. In London, it is less. We do a lot behind the scenes here especially for overseas investors. What they know – and are happy with – is that London yields are usually below 5 per cent, sometimes 3 or even 2 per cent. Of course, the upside is that you have capital appreciation like nowhere else in the UK.

Are You Funded?

I received an email from a member the other day which went something like this. ‘I might be interested in some of these starter BTLs you mention in London. I’m ready to move if everything is just so and would only need to sort my finances before progressing.’

Okay, clearly that’s not an email that’s sent by a serious investor who knows the way around but the biggest issue – that makes the whole thing a non-starter – is the absence of finance to proceed straightaway. It’s London. If you don’t have cash or funding lined up, you are going nowhere fast. Remember that property viewing with 60 visitors? That’s what you’re up against in many cases.

Do You Need Help?

I don’t want to turn this article into a huge sales promotion for Adam, who sources property for members, but if you do not have time and or skill to do the legwork, attend auctions (with all the know-how that requires) and negotiate with sellers, you need someone to help you in London.

As Adam writes, ‘I spent virtually the whole of Saturday checking properties and agents in Crystal Palace on behalf of one member and I hope it leads to something for him.’ Adam’s been a chartered surveyor for 25 years and knows where to look, what to ask – and what to avoid – for members.

You also may need some advice on what is selling at auction and what to bid for and, often as important, what to avoid. As Adam says, I was monitoring two lots for some old clients last week. The first, a parcel of land, was guided at £450k and sold for £580k! The second, a house in south London was guided at £350k and sold for £531k!’

It’s often said by many experts that most London deals these days go off-market. Again, you need to know what you are doing though. Adam adds, ‘Given the short supply of stock, I am extremely dubious when someone tells me a deal is off-market or below market value. Off-market does happen in the higher value stock where people like to be discreet and under the radar, but not really in the starter bracket, up to £500k, where vendors want every last penny.’

What Next?

Our Investing In 2014 seminar was judged a success but several investors, especially those who came along specifically to meet Adam beforehand, wanted some more one-on-one time. So, we are going to offer something less formal than a seminar – maybe a drinks get together or a curry night on a Thursday evening between, say, 6.30 to 10.30. Members can drop in and out of drinks as they please, talk to us and also to some fellow investors.

If this would interest you, drop us a line and we will tell you more. Given the costs involved and the fact that at least half who swear blind they’ll be there never actually turn up on the day, we will be limiting numbers to a round dozen for this first, trial, event and there will be a small charge for food and drink, at cost, probably about £20 a head. The know-how, expertise and access to exclusive deals – frankly, worth £1,000’s – all come free-of-charge.

Over to you, we look forward to your reply.


Norwegian Nappies

Imagine travelling several hundred miles, with a ferry journey thrown in for good measure…just to buy nappies. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, and yet that’s just what entrepreneurial Poles and Lithuanians are doing,  who see half-priced diapers are too good a business opportunity to pass up.

As I’m sure you know, supermarkets often use loss-leaders to entice customers into their stores. For reasons I don’t fully understand, (perhaps young parents are a big target market) cut-price nappies have become the preferred lure in parts of Norway. It’s set off something of a price war, which would be great news for Norwegian parents if they could actually find nappies in stock, but they can’t. Prices are so low that  Poles and Lithuanians, have started trekking to Norway for the sole purpose of buying up every last nappy they can find. I’m assuming they then take them back home and sell them at a profit.

I’m sure opportunities come up like this all the time – and not just across International borders. Local shops and Supermarket have cut price, time-sensitive offers to bring in customers, which aren’t available in other areas. Every time that happens, there’s a profit opportunity. Buy the product in one area, and resell it in another for less money than it’s available for in that area.  Simple, but not that easy.

The trick is to be on the spot to take up the offers, and  you’ll not always be able to do that. This probably isn’t something for a regular income then, but something to keep in the back of your mind for when the opportunity presents itself.  And once you’re alert to the possibility, the opportunities will present themselves all the more regularly.

Streetwise Property Alert 25th February 2014

Welcome to today’s email of news and views.

England & Wales Summary

The latest Home.co.uk figures suggests that asking prices in England and Wales rose 1.5 per cent in January; the biggest monthly rise since May 2007. As ever, you’d expect variations on the average – beware averages! – and London leads the way at 3.1 per cent and 16.7 per cent year-on-year. The supply of property is down 11 per cent year-on-year, 28 per cent in London, and properties are also selling faster. Onwards and upwards!

London, again, is expected to lead the way in 2014 with the business predicting 20 per cent price growth over the year. Properties in London now spend just 67 days on the market, the lowest since February 2007. ‘Home prices are rising unsustainably fast in London and the South East. Rapidly rising house prices precipitate a groundswell of support for current economic policy and makes banks and building societies’ lending books look much more solid.’

‘However, inflating the cost of housing does nothing for the nation’s international competitiveness and will only hasten the current tide of quality jobs heading overseas. Until interest rates return to normal levels and government incentives for buyers cease, we remain in an artificial market subject to the vagaries of government policy and economic tinkering on an unprecedented scale.’ More to come.

BTL Mortgage News

Paragon are in the news with their new BTL mortgage product for single unit properties and HMOs and multi-unit blocks. The rate is fixed at an initial 5.49 per cent for a maximum loan to value of 75 per cent with a 2 per cent product fee; crunch the fee.

John Heron of Paragon Mortgages says, ‘The buy-to-let market has been saturated with short-term fixes for the past two years. Whilst there are obvious benefits of two year and three year fixes, these can work out rather costly for landlords in the long-term. This new five year fix is part of an ongoing programme of product development the aim of which is to widen the choices available to landlords and provide them an opportunity to get off the two year treadmill.’ More to follow.

Ready – Tenanted Deals

Two deals have just come in from Adam…

Leyton – Freehold house arranged as two flats in need of refurbishment – £400,000 – one flat currently let and one vacant with estimated yield overall of 6 per cent.

Liverpool – 7 bedroom, recently modernized, HMO perfect for students and medical staff. £300,000 fully let and yielding 10.6 per cent.

Email back for fuller details. This will be the only mention.


Scotland Overview

Based on the number of properties coming to market, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, RICS, suggests that Scotland’s property market is in recovery. For December, a net balance of 44 per cent more chartered surveyors reported an increase in new instructions. Even so, supply still falls short of supply, which exerts upward pressure on prices.

‘Although the number of houses on the market falls short of demand, the increase reported is certainly a step in the right direction. Growing availability of affordable mortgages has released some pent-up demand from a market that, in recent years, has seen many viable buyers unable to enter the market. On the face of it, this seems like good news but unless we see a marked increase in the number of homes coming up for sale we could well be looking at a price rises becoming unsustainable in some areas. This is a central issue which will be addressed by the Scottish Housing Commission Report, published in April 2014.’ More soon.

All for now. As ever, email back about anything you’ve read in today’s email.


Do Something Boring

We spend a lot of time telling you about interesting and novel business idea here, and you can certainly make money with those. But here’s an alternative for you – do something boring instead!

I’ve met so many people, living exotic and interesting lifestyles, whose means of achieving it were anything but. Waste management specialists,  paint manufacturers, engineering company owners, building materials suppliers,  packaging manufacturers, toilet roll makers, janitorial supplies companies. All things that people need and want, but not sexy in the least.

I’m not suggesting you discount the possibility of making money from something cutting edge and cool, but rather that you keep your mind open to the alternative. Make money from something boring that you know people want and need.

Streetwise Property Alert 24th February 2014

Welcome to the latest round-up – plus, please note, you can access the UKPA and IPA PDF newsletters for February to the right…

Student Accommodation Update

The most recent CBRE Student Accommodation Index, to end Q3 2013, shows returns of up to 9.95 per cent a year. Peter McDermott of Go Global Investments is quoted widely in the media, ‘An investment in student housing generates far fewer headaches than your average buy-to-let, largely because the entire process is hands-off. The professional management company finds the tenants, maintains the building and uses economies of scale to drive down running costs. All the investor has to do is watch regular rental returns appear in the bank account.’

‘Likewise, this investment is low risk. Student accommodation now has a proven track record and its success is underpinned by exceptionally high tenancy rates of 98 per cent plus, alongside a chronic undersupply of dedicated housing in most top university cities across the UK. Applications to UCAS from outside of Europe, particularly the Far East, have seen average annual growth of 8.5 per cent between 2007 and July 2013 and this is a target audience for safe, quality accommodation within easy reach of campus. This asset class is also recession-resistant as the number of university applicants tends to rise in an economic downturn, as they postpone a career in order to gain more qualifications.’ We have an updated quarterly report coming and we are due to meet half a dozen of you tomorrow to view a site; looking forward to that.

Overseas Lease Options

We ran about a dozen lease option opportunities recently; we still have some availability – about 40/60 – but reply sooner rather than later please. We will have more soon (and, of course, those of you on that particular list will receive separate details on a regular basis from Nic).

Fitch Ratings – Outlooks

The Global Housing and Mortgage Outlook by Fitch Ratings highlights which markets are expected to lead the way in 2014. Here are their predictions – Brazil, up 6 per cent, South Africa, up 6 per cent, UK, up 5 per cent, Australia, up 4 per cent, Germany, up 3 per cent, Ireland, up 3 per cent, the USA, up 2 per cent.

‘For all 17 countries in this report, the mortgage/housing market outlook has either improved or remained broadly the same compared to 12 months ago. This is partly in step with the economic recovery for a number of countries but also as a result of government and central bank policy changes which are boosting supply and demand for residential mortgages and housing.’ We will focus more on particular countries in the weekly emails for Spain, France, America, and so on.

Now’s The Time

One of the reasons we are introducing the 50-50 JV opportunity with a developer right now – well to some of you – is that the land is secured and we are at the start of a sharp upward trend in land values. As Savills states, house builders looking to secure a five year pipeline are pushing up the value of residential development land at a rate not seen since 2010. ‘Improved confidence in the housing market is playing out in the land markets, with value growth driven by a strong demand for land.’

‘Acquisitive house builders are now channelling debt and equity into longer term sites to secure pipeline. This increased demand, in a market where supply remains constrained, means that land values are expected to continue their upwards trajectory. This accentuates the need for the volume of land coming through the reformed planning system to continue increasing at the rates we have seen during the last 18 months.’ We should by now have sent out the packs on the 50-50 JV venture – 28 per cent returns expected – let me know if you have not had yours.

All for now, please do read the UKPA and IPA PDFs and, of course, feel free to send them on to friends and colleagues. By the by, I’d like to invite you to join me at a Brazil investment seminar in London on the vening of 20 March. I am happy to meet earlier or stay later to discuss other matters such as the London and JV opportunities. Email