Biggest…Fastest…Anythingest!

The Scoville Scale is what determines the spiciness of a pepper. A Jalapeño starts at 3,500 Scovilles and a Habanero starts at 100,000 Scovilles. I just read about a vodka that rates 100,000 Scovilles on the tasting scale which must be almost undrinkable. It’s easy to see why they made it though.

People are intrigued by extremes. They want to experience the biggest roller coaster, the fastest car, the hottest curry, the tallest building and yes….even the spiciest Vodka. It might not be a great experience but it’s something to tick off the list.

So here’s a question for you – is there anything in what you offer that you could attach an extreme label to like this? Or could you create an extreme version of what you do? I’ll leave you to think about it, while I do some work on the worlds most expensive book!

Streetwise Property Alert 14th March 2014

Here we are again at the end of the week with more UK property news and views…

Auction Tips

Just been sent an interesting clipping from a local newspaper in Sleaford. It quotes Paul Collins of the Belvoir lettings and property management office in Lincoln, who talks about buying at auction. Let’s quote, ‘One of the main benefits of buying an investment property at auction is that the process is very quick as both the purchaser and the seller agree to complete the transaction in a few weeks. There are no chains involved. It is also possible to buy a property with a tenant already in place – providing an instant income as soon as the purchase is completed.’

‘You should never buy a property that has not been researched thoroughly. I would always advise viewing a property and having a professional survey done prior to the sale. The desirability and tenant appeal of the area it is located in, plus any obvious repair or maintenance issues required to bring the property up to a rentable standard, should always be taken into account before you start bidding.’

‘Before attending auction, buyers should do their homework to find the most appropriate national or regional auctioneers offering the kind of property they are interested in. Most auction houses can be found via a quick internet search and many will market upcoming lots on property portals. Local lettings specialists will also be able to offer advice and will often know of forthcoming auction dates and venues. They will also be able to provide an objective, professional opinion on the area, the street, the type of tenants that would be suitable and the anticipated rental levels that could be achieved.’

‘At auction it is important that potential buyers have their finances sorted out in advance. They also need to take into account any costs incurred on searches or legal enquiries before bidding. One of the biggest challenges when buying at auction is to stay calm and not get carried away with the bidding process. By gathering in advance as much research and information as possible, you will be able to set your own
limits for any lots you are interested in.’ Wise words. More to come? You tell us.

PCL Overview

Strutt & Parker’s quarterly report covering PCL, Chelsea, Kensington, Fulham, Notting Hill, Knightsbridge and Belgravia, shows sales and rentals are rising. ‘We have seen Chelsea, South Kensington and Fulham assemble the most diverse spectrum of international buyers, while Knightsbridge is highly attractive to those from the Middle East. Kensington & Notting Hill has changed from being a more domestic market to an overseas hotspot. South Kensington and Fulham also saw an increase in transactions values compared to 2012 (14.5 per cent) which is likely due to selling the largest quantity of flats since the peak
in 2006.’

‘The lettings market has proved equally buoyant. There were 13,752 property lets agreed in PCL during 2013, representing an 11.6 per cent increase on 2012 and surpassing the peak of 2009 by 8.2 per cent. The largest change was seen in the Knightsbridge & Belgravia submarket where house lettings increased by nearly 32 per cent compared to 2012.Lateral apartments and small family houses continue to be the properties of choice.’ More to come. We have a 12-page report coming for those serious investors looking to buy here; email for it.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Deposits – A Reminder

ARLA, the Association of Residential Letting Agents, reminds us today that you should keep an accurate list of all fixtures and fittings. It goes on, ‘Images detailing the property’s condition can help ensure there are no disputes at the end of a tenancy. Keep a written record: While images will definitely help in documenting the state of the property and contents, it is also useful to elaborate and explain the state of items in a detailed written description. This will help protect you if there is any dispute about the condition of items at the end of the tenancy.’

‘Be logical: To ensure you have covered everything and have the most comprehensive list possible, it is important to be logical in your approach in compiling an inventory. The easiest way to do this is by recording items by room; this will help you to compile an accurate and comprehensive inventory. Understand who is responsible for the overall upkeep of the property as well as the contents. This information should be in your tenancy agreement. This will help resolve any issues at the end of a tenancy where landlord/tenant duties were not specified. If in doubt use a member of the Association of Professional Inventory Providers (APIP): More professionalism and credibility can be added to the inventory if you use a fully qualified APIP member. Members of APIP are professionally trained in drawing up an inventory and conducting the check in and check out. All members have passed assessments to demonstrate their abilities.’ See Apip.org.uk.

The Rental Market

LSL Property Services reveals the differences in returns between owning a BTL property in different parts of the country. If you have a BTL in England or Wales the average return you’ve made over the past year, from capital growth and rental yield, is some £14,767. How does that compare with your property(ies)?

To show the spread, and to reveal yet again why the average is so misleading, you would have made £7,271 in the North East and £38,000 in London. If current trends continue, you can expect to make an average return of £22,000 a property over the next 12 months.

‘Demand remains strong in the rental sector despite signs that more people have been getting on the property ladder in recent months. Meanwhile, rising prices are delivering an equity bonus for landlords – considerably boosting total annual returns. Such equity growth is also an important factor for some landlords looking to remortgage existing properties to fund new purchases… many landlords will continue to expand their portfolios.’

Our Next Get-Together

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.

That’s it, that’s all for today.

The Consignment Shop

Somewhere between High Street store and charity shop, there’s an alternative – the consignment shop. Many of us have expensive clothes and other items at home which we no longer have a use for, but can’t be bothered to sell. A consignment shop takes in items like this on a sale or return basis and then sells them for a commission. It’s a win-win situation for all concerned.

I recently read about Jane Hoffman who runs a 990 square foot consignment shop selling high end clothes in Los Angeles after working for several years in the film industry providing wardrobe for the stars. Consignment shopping is growing rapidly in the United States, but I don’t see too much of it here in the UK. Perhaps it’s time we changed that. There are very few limits on what you might sell.

Streetwise Property Alert 13th March 2014

Welcome to today’s email…

Turkey- Who, What, Where?

We keep being asked the same question about Turkey – where are Brits buying? Recent figures from the Statistical Institute reveal the know-how. There were 1.1million property purchases in 2013 and about 1 per cent of these were by foreigners. Antalya saw the most overseas sales in 2013 at 5,548. Istanbul came next with 2,447 sales followed by Aydin at 1,112, Mulga at 1,053 and Mersin at 545.

Investors are looking at Istanbul. Julian Walker at Spot Blue, quoted in OPP Connect, says, ‘Buyers from the Gulf Co-operation Countries and the Middle East are purchasing in Istanbul. Everybody is buying property for an investment point of view. Thirty to forty years ago, people were not so conscious of this and the market has not grown as aggressively to make money. But today people are buying for a lifestyle purpose with an eye on investment.’ More to come? A show of hands please.

Upcoming New Service

I had a meeting with a financial whizz in London on Tuesday and it may be of interest to you if you are buying into the UK from overseas and want to know the best way to structure your purchase to minimise tax etc. Are you? Do you? Drop me a line and we will see if we can put you in touch with each other.

Weekly Currencies Review

The latest currencies review – sterling/euro – is due in from Peter Lavelle at Pure FX later today. If you’d like to receive it, and this is surely a must-read if you are exchanging currencies soon, please email back. We will send it on as soon as we receive it.

admin@streetwisenews.com

US – More Positives

Getting better – but a way to go yet! The latest report from Zillow offers more good news for the US property market; there are now 19.4 per cent of home owners in negative equity there; i.e. their mortgage is higher than the value of the property. That percentage has now fallen for seven quarters in succession. It was, at one point, close to 30 per cent.

‘We’ve reached an important milestone as negative equity has fallen below 20 per cent nationwide which has helped free up marginally more inventory and contribute to further stabilisation of the market. But a number of headwinds will prevent negative equity from falling at the kind of sustained, rapid pace we need before the market can completely return to normal, and it remains roughly four times what it is in a healthier market. High negative equity is just another sign of how distorted the market continues to be, and how far we still have to go on the road back to normal.’

All for now, see you on Friday.

You’re Never Too Old

Last week I received a note with an order for my latest book. The gentleman who sent it started out by saying he thought he was probably one of our oldest customers. At first I thought he meant he’d been buying from us for a long time, (we have been around for almost 25 years after all)  but that wasn’t it.

His name is Spephen Hobday, he’s 97 years old…and he’s still running a growing business. Stephen’s business, Maltron Ltd, market a range of ergonomically designed specialist computer keyboards for people with both injuries and disabilities. In Stephen’s own words, “I can’t stop learning.”

I don’t know about you, but I find it both inspiring and uplifting  that someone at that age is not only still making  a valuable contribution, but also keen to develop and learn more. So many people give up at not much more than half of Stephen’s age. What a shame, when there’s so much more they could do.

www.Maltron.com

Streetwise Property Alert 5th March 2014

Most of what we do here property-wise is done behind-the-scenes. Opportunities, small get-togethers, visits to sites etc – all are done without the free members knowing about it. That’s because we want to deliver the savviest members exactly what they want!

Take the recent example of a UK JV which was introduced to just 24 members. Here are the key facts…

A small development site of just 11 units.

£50,000 in.

12 to 15 month build-time.

50-50 profit share.

Estimated returns of some 28 per cent.

First refusal on investing in next project.

Of course, there’s lots more to it than that. Fact is, I’ve never seen so much clear and transparent documentation from a team that is as open and as detailed as I have ever met. In less than two weeks, nine members – each putting in £50,000 – have been taking up their places and we expect all of them to be through the system in the next week.

We will soon be repeating the process…

But we don’t want everyone to know about it!

You do, and here’s your chance…

If you might be interested in investing in the next UK JV, and have – this is very important – £50,000 to invest, drop me a line. We’ll then have a brief exchange of emails and hopefully add you to the waiting list for next time. It will then go quiet for a little while and we will – just as soon as we have another deal that’s not far off as promising as the first one (which really looks quite exceptional) – we’ll be in touch.

Reply now. Don’t miss out. As one of my colleagues said when one of the original 24 told us he did not have the funds to invest in this first JV, ‘A shame….this has been so popular…he’ll live to regret that.’ Make sure you don’t. Email today. Once we have the names of 24 serious investors with £50,000 each, we will close the list…

admin@streetwisenews.com

What To Sell Online

If you’re keen to start an online business, you could d a lot worse than focus on the areas where customers spend the most money online already. The  second largest category (after books)  is clothing and footwear. Footwear is particularly interesting.

While Amazon has a firm grasp on the book market,  the footwear market is far more fragmented with no company having a dominant market share. It’s a market with dozens of niches and sub-niches, so there are opportunities for anyone with an idea for a unique or innovative product line. Some niche ideas you might consider include sandals, sports shoes, shoes for a specific activity, slippers, flip flops,  slip-on shoes, washable shoes or vintage shoes

This isn’t the easiest type of business to start, but it’s one with a ready-made, proven market. What’s more, it’s one with huge upside potential. Get it right, and you could very easily find your business in line for takeover by one of the big players keen to get a foothold (no pun intended) in your niche.

Streetwise Property Alert 4th March 2014

Welcome to today’s news and views …

Spain – ‘Stunning Villa’

Last week’s property introduction ‘Just in from Nic and straight out so at least one member will be happy…’ was taken within 24 hours; no more replies for that please!

Florida – The Reality

Wayne Levy, a registered real estate broker, is quoted in the media about the state of play in Florida. There are still bargains to be had although, across the board, prices are up. ‘If you’re looking to be on the water, in brand-new construction, for under $100,000 or $200,000, you’ll be happy you read this today because I just saved you $500 on a plane ticket!’

‘Last year we told people, ‘We’re starting to see increases in prices,’ and it has happened. Miami is almost back to where it was before the crash. Orlando is still very affordable, we sell a lot of condo/hotels there – they are great because for a client who wants to put their foot in the door, who is not ready to retire yet but wants to use it. Orlando condo/hotels work this way. An owner can leave the unit empty, use it themselves, or put it into the hotel management programme – let them rent it out for you and you get a cheque every month.’ Interested?

Email to find out more.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Winter Olympics – The Effects

Our friends at OPP Connect have an article out suggesting that France is the winner of ‘Property Gold’ following the Winter Olympics. They quote MGM agent Richard Deans – and yes, noted, an agent, who praises France ‘Lettings in our leaseback properties are at exceptionally high levels this season and inevitably there are a number of skiing families who want to stay in a place of their own next year, rather than pay rent. The sustained improvement in the exchange rate, with more than €1.2 to the pound, has combined with the UK’s brighter economic outlook to give would-be buyers the confidence to act now.’ We are at work on an article covering ski properties, leasebacks and leading ski resorts; email if you are looking to buy into these sectors.

Visit! Visit! Visit!

We’d always urge anyone buying property overseas to visit before parting with a single euro. Fact is, so many of these properties on offer in Spain are pitched cleverly to offer huge discounts (based on off-plan valuations from 2007), amidst lovely surroundings (based on a PDF full of artists’ impressions) and great services (based on what was expected back when the development was planned six years ago).

I’ve been sent a copy of (the key points of) the most recent census in Spain which suggests some 3.4m homes, about 15 per cent of all properties, I’d estimate – are empty and a further 500,000 are half-built and left as they are. Chatting to an agent in Spain this week, he estimated some ‘very popular’ resorts have on average about one-third of their units half-built or empty. Some resorts, from where we are sitting, have higher percentages. Those of you of a certain vintage will recall 1970’s movies, Carry On, Are You Being Served etc, where the characters visited the ‘Costa del Plonka’ (typically) and everything was half built, half staffed and half-cocked. It’s not that different these days on some of these resorts.

Property Databases

We now have access to two databases in Spain with what appear to be some excellent BMV deals. I am looking at a couple myself in Calpe. Are you looking to buy in Spain? Send us your main requirements and we will see what we can source for you.

Timing Is Key

I’ve been sent a copy and paste article by Laura Parsons at Torfx.com (if I should have acknowledged anyone else please email me and I will add a correction from you next time out). Some interesting points are made when it comes to transferring money to buy that property in France. Let’s quote, ‘While banks are able to transfer funds overseas, they usually add on transfer fees and commission whereas currency brokers will carry out the same transaction at no cost to you. Banks also rarely secure clients the best exchange rate available, and this can lead to them losing out on thousands of pounds.’

‘For example, when buying a property priced in euros the exchange rate you are able to secure can make a huge difference to how far your pounds will stretch. After the eurozone returned to growth in the second quarter of 2013, the euro strengthened considerably, resulting in a difference of seven pence per euro between its highest and lowest points across the year. While seven pence might not seem like much, when you’re transferring the kind of sum involved in a typical property purchase the right exchange rate can have a huge impact on your wallet. If your dream home costs €250,000 it would set you back £202,500 if you moved your money across at a rate of 81p/euro. However, if you made your transfer when the exchange rate was at 88p/euro that same house would cost you £220,000. That’s £17,500 more!’ Email for more details and how-to commentary.

All for now, as ever, feel free to email back.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Fabulous Fries

Few of us give much thought to the humble French Fry, but Florida based Scott Nelowet spotted an opportunity while on holiday in Amsterdam.

In the United States, fries are seen as filler food, but in Amsterdam there are a number of outlets selling gourmet fries. Neolwet borrowed the idea, and tested it around Florida using a mobile van. When that proved successful he opened his first French Fry Heaven restaurant in 2011, offering sweet potato fries with a choice of 51 sauces, spices and sea salt toppings.

There are two things to take away from this I think:

1. Always be alert to what’s working in other countries while on holiday.

2. There’s almost always an opportunity to create an upmarket version of a generic product.

So what’s next?

Streetwise Property Alert 3rd March 2014

Welcome to the latest round-up of news and views…

BTL – Calculating The ROI

We’ve been talking to various BTL investors lately – they are testing a new service for us behind-the-scenes (more soon) – and it is interesting how investors seem to use different calculations to assess their ROI, return on investment. The basic measure that is quoted most widely is income divided by the investment multiplied by 100. So, if you have a basic BTL and the rent is £5,250 and the cost was £100,000, the yield is 5.25 per cent.

Of course, would-be investors will then talk about gross profits, net profits, mortgage borrowings, cash put in, extra costs incurred, void periods and so on. Personally, I’ve always taken the net profit at the end of each year and compared that to the cash that I put in in the first place; some of you, if I left it there, would then chide me for not mentioning that the property price, and therefore the equity in the investment, may have gone up or even down over the past year and that I should really compare the net profit against the cash/equity that is still in the investment; if I put in, say, 20 per cent cash at the outset, the net profit in relation to that may be quite good. But if I effectively have 40 per cent cash/equity in there, it may be less impressive and I could maybe do better elsewhere. An endless debate! More to come; we are just taking soundings from different correspondents – lots of different opinions – and will have an article soon for newcomers.

Brazil – 20 March Seminar

Some of you, who have already invested in Brazil, have asked if you can come along to the 20 March event. Yes, please do! It is a good chance to meet Adam and the team, get an update, compare notes with fellow investors – we always encourage new investors to chat to old investors – and have a drink with me before or after. Email for details.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Weekly Currencies Review

The latest currencies review – sterling/euro/US dollar – is in from Peter Lavelle at Pure FX. If you’d like to receive it, and this is surely a must-read if you are exchanging currencies soon, please email back. We will send it on.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Latest Introductions

Two for members today…

Tottenham – freehold house currently arranged as two flats and fully let. Estimated market value £530,000 – 10 per cent discount for quick sale – cash buyer preferred.

Yorkshire – freehold block of 10 modern apartments. Individual break-up value of circa £650k from RICS report. Fully let. Quick sale required at £550k.

2 per cent finder’s fees required on both. Email for details. Please, no daydreamers.

admin@streetwisenews.com

London 500k Reminder

If you are replying to the 70-30 JV opportunities introduction in London, please do make sure that you have £500k. This key criterion seems to be causing some confusion with some members as we have had a stream of replies this week beginning along the lines of ‘I don’t have £500k or anything like it but would like to get involved.’ Apologies -you can’t.

London – PCL Overveiw

Strutt & Parker’s quarterly report covering PCL, Chelsea, Kensington, Fulham, Notting Hill, Knightsbridge and Belgravia, shows sales and rentals are rising. ‘We have seen Chelsea, South Kensington and Fulham assemble the most diverse spectrum of international buyers, while Knightsbridge is highly attractive to those from the Middle East. Kensington & Notting Hill has changed from being a more domestic market to an overseas hotspot. South Kensington and Fulham also saw an increase in transactions values compared to 2012 (14.5 per cent) which is likely due to selling the largest quantity of flats since the peak in 2006.’

‘The lettings market has proved equally buoyant. There were 13,752 property lets agreed in PCL during 2013, representing an 11.6 per cent increase on 2012 and surpassing the peak of 2009 by 8.2 per cent. The largest change was seen in the Knightsbridge & Belgravia submarket where house lettings increased by nearly 32 per cent compared to 2012.Lateral apartments and small family houses continue to be the properties of choice.’ More to come. We have a 12-page report coming for those serious investors looking to buy here; email for it.

All for now, as ever, feel free to email back.

admin@streetwisenews.com