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How can you tell if a property deal is dodgy

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
How can you tell if a deal is dodgy? You can’t, but here are some clues:

 

  • If there is a middleman between you and the supplier (excluding standard real estate sales), then there is going to be big commissions built in. While the property may be OK, the commissions usually run from around $15,000 up to $40,000. You won’t know about it, as it’s often provided as an after-sales “kick-back” and it doesn’t have to be disclosed – there is no law around property investment advice, and so no disclosure requirement. Such a big commission will, in this subdued environment, take years to recoup and put a dampener on leveraging ability.
  • If the property exists in a state other than where it is being marketed, there has to be a reason why the locals haven’t snapped up the deal.
  • If the person advising you to buy the property is also representing the seller then it is not possible for their advice to be independent – it is biased, and the deal is likely better for the marketer than it is for you.
  • If the company selling the property waxes lyrically about how you are their first concern, it’s likely to be dodgy. It’s fine to sell property as a middleman but not fine to claim that your interests are with the buyer.
  • If there is any kind of incentive scheme, such as a rent guarantee or bonus, something is likely to be up. Property that makes a viable investment can sell itself.

Now is the time to take extra care. If you’d like to invest in property, you can do so safely, but you have to have your eyes open and take responsibility for your own successes and failures. Protect yourself with the following guidelines:

  • Beware of property being marketed by a seminar or telemarketer – such campaigns are expensive, and these people are paid big commissions that are hard to recoup through capital appreciation. Don’t believe claims that commissions aren’t built into the price – this is simply not possible.
  • Never sign a deal on the day you see it. If an extra incentive is offered to do so, be doubly wary!
  • Always confirm the value of a property through recent sales. Only recent sales can determine the actual value.
  • Be aware that forecasts on income are based on historical figures and do not consider future supply.
  • Be extra careful of off-the-plan – especially tax advantaged ones. They are often part of a huge development which will affect future supply and impact on your yields.

Most importantly, become educated before you become an investor. Too many people decide to invest and then go looking for a property, and this is why they are so vulnerable. Get that education under your belt first and then you will know how to spot a dodgy deal at 10 paces.

Margaret Lomas

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