Green Spain

Northern Spain, or Green Spain, is not usually where the tourists go, and certainly not where most people choose to buy property. This could be a mistake, but I suppose it depends on what you want to find.
The sea, and indeed the weather, is not so hot as it is down on the Costa del Sol. There is more rain, and the countryside is more like green England.

There are the Picos de Europa, which are steep and rugged, and have snow on them during the winter, and of course the Pyrenees are not far away.
The bays and charming little coves are really sweet, and I would certainly recommend the area for a holiday expedition.
Cantabria is the name given to the strip of land between the Cantabrian Sea, otherwise known as the Bay of Biscay, and the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain.
Biscay is a corruption of the Spanish word Vizcaya, meaning a mountain or cliff, and probably relates to the way the Picos de Europa dominate the northern coast of Spain facing the bay.
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Cantabria regained its independence from the rule of the Visigoths, and remained independent until the Arab invasion. In the year 714, a mixed Arab/Barber army invaded the upper valleys of the Ebro and succeeded in capturing Amaya, then the Cantabrian capital. However, they did not get beyond the mountains, and this strip of Spain was the one area the moors did not manage to settle.
When I last travelled along this northern coastline with Julie we stopped in the little town of Castro Urdiales, which is Roman in origin and was originally called Portus Amanus. In AD 74 a Roman colony was established under the name Flaviobriga, during the reign of Vespasian, probably to mine the abundant iron ore in the area.
The chief industries now are mining, fishing, and the preservation of fish in oil, especially sardines and anchovies.
Many people from Bilbao and other parts of the Basque Country and Cantabria as well as Northern Spain in general keep summer homes in the town.
By its name I assumed it was an old Roman town. The centre is certainly old, but not much of the very old is left. There is a charming small inner harbour filled with the usual bobbing boats, but one or two of the ancient houses in the suburbs are rather fine villas.
All along the north coast of Cantabria are the foothills of the Picos de Europa, covered in lush green, with small valleys funnelling into the sea; small inlets where the sea brushes in beside the hills, and, as it retreats, leaves a bank of sand overshadowed by woodland clinging to the steep sides of the hills.
Inlet after inlet cuts the coastline. Here and there are villages, usually set back from the coast behind a rise in the land for protection from the winter winds. Farmers are cutting small patches of grass. Behind are wife and children with rakes, collecting the new-mown grass into rows, and then into small domes.

Down on the beach another farmer is raking up the seaweed left by the retreating tide and bundling it into a cart. The tractor tows the cart up a perilous track, and the seaweed is dumped in what look like giant molehills on the fields as fertilizer. This is then spread slowly with a long-handled rake wielded by a farm-hand with a bent back.
Further along the coast is a large valley where the river runs from tiny stream to estuary over the space of half a mile. Set in behind the trees, and in amongst the folds in the rock, are secret houses.
The sun is shining, the beaches are empty, the leaves glisten with the drops from yesterday’s rain, the fields are green, there are cows with massive horns, farmers are tilling tiny plots, and up in the sky a few white clouds define the clear pale blue.
Further west are the high mountains of the Picos de Europa, with snow shining on them. The mountains are a jagged lot, and all around them are the lesser mounds of the Cantabrian mountain range, which seems to stretch almost from the Pyrenees to the edge of Asturias. To the north is the blue calm sea, and dozens of little bays. For every steep valley that cuts into the foothills, there is a small rushing stream tumbling down the rocks and fanning out onto a small flat lea before being claimed by the waves toppling onto a crescent sandy beach.

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Buying Property in Turkey — Part 2

I recently warned that buying real estate in Turkey was a big mistake. I gave several reasons, only to be told that one of my readers was going ahead with a purchase because he had been advised by a “reputable” London firm.

All I can say is that I hope he had second thoughts. But let me underline that previous recommendation to steer clear of a junk market.

Several things have been coming together recently to add to the standard disasters in Turkey. We all know that the country has serious internal strife: not the place one should move to or invest in. There are wars on both sides of the country, and religious intolerance is on the rise. But never mind all that, let us look at more general aspects that affect the country.

Turkey is regarded as an emerging market. That type of economy is in deep trouble because of a convergence of financial changes that are taking place in the international markets. I refer to low interest rates that have led governments to borrow heavily in the international markets, which usually means, getting US dollars.

The other problem is that the bond markets are turning round, and interest rates are on the rise.

When you are borrowing in dollars you are borrowing money denominated in a reserve currency. If you are the Turkey government, you are paying back in a weak currency. One small change in the market rates and you will get crucified. Let’s put some figures on this.

The Turkish lira has fallen about 20% against the US dollar so far this year. The chart is frightening. Four years ago you would get only 2.5 lira to the US$. Now you get 4.5. That is a hell of a currency crash.

Inflation there is running at 11%, which is pretty steep, and heading higher. Now look at the interest rate. It has just jumped from 13.5% to 16.5%. What is that going to do for mortgages? And what is that going to do for the property market which is dependent on borrowed money? Property prices are crashing.

Are things about to get better? On the contrary, they are about to get worse. The government plan is to borrow even more. And as the currency collapses those loans rise in value against the collapsing lira.

Interest rates have started to rise. It looks as though they will rise further. As the dollar rises and interest rates follow, so weaker currencies will fall. Already Argentina is collapsing. The Turkish currency is following. That will wipe out value in real estate.

Turkey is heading for a full blown economic crisis. THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO INVEST. It is the place where you are guaranteed to lose money.

As I did warn earlier, if you buy real estate in a country then you are investing in that country. Would you invest in a risky company? Of course not, so why invest in a weak country? It will take your money with you as it tanks.

If some so-called reputable company tries to convince you that buying in these dumps is a good idea, take that advice for what it is: the company is talking its book. They need to sell you something to keep their business functioning so they will talk it up.

Don’t invest in Turkey or any of these marginal countries. You will regret it.

Buying a home abroad in Ten Easy Steps

Buying a home abroad in Ten Easy Steps

There is a gimmick that is still popular. It involves giving advice in a certain number of steps. Why this should help attract readers I don’t know, but apparently it does. So I may as well climb on this particular band-wagon..

Firstly, a quick call on why my advice is good. Maybe I can do that in ten silly steps as well.

  1. I have bought and sold property in nine different countries over a period of forty years. I have long term experience.
  2. I have called the tops and bottoms of the UK and Spanish property markets with 100% accuracy over the past forty years.
  3. I issue an annual property analysis. I have been doing it for thirty-five years. I have never been wrong.
  4. I’ve written books and articles on real estate for over twenty years, appeared on radio and t.v. in several countries, and have clients in 70 countries.
  5. Good grief, I even invented buy-to-let back in 1991, and wrote a book about it in 1993.
  6. I’ve got bored. Oh well, perhaps this should read: Why My advice is Good in only Five Steps

On to my ten tips

>>>>> 1 Work out what the heck you’re trying to achieve to start with. That is prime. Why are you buying? Anyone who doesn’t start with this question and kick it around for a year or so is asking for trouble.

Do you want a holiday home or a retirement home? If the former, why? Why would you always want to take a holiday in the same place? Work out what it will cost, including taxes, repairs, and everything else. Then add in the opportunity cost (the cost of not having the money you just used up). Even if you put that in at 5%, you need to put it in, and if you only get 5% on your money you need to talk to me because you are screwing up really badly. Now check rental costs, and do a little subtraction sum. Now start thinking!

If you only want a holiday home it is much cheaper to rent. However, you may want a retirement home. You can book a one bed apartment for €75 a week. Three apartments out of every five are empty. Buying is idiotic. A three bed villa with a pool in the Algarve will cost you about €800 a month on a long-term contract. Heck, I know. Last year I was renting out one for precisely that figure. I repeat, buying is idiotic. If you want some of those deals all you have to do is contact me.

I know most people can’t do maths, but here are some very simple sums. Try and commit to memory. Rental cost = €800 a month = €9,600 a year. Purchase price for 3 bed apartment (let’s say) €150,000. Taxes and maintenance and insurance: €3,000 (that’s probably a bit low, but let’s be generous). You now do not have the €150,000 but you do have the house. You can get 8% return on investment pretty well anywhere in the UK property market. I usually get anywhere between 12% and 20%. But if you invested that money you would get an income. 8% of €150,000 = €12,000.

Let’s resolve the above figures. Buy the house which comes with a €3,000 a year running cost. You now don’t have the money. Alternatively rent a place for €9,600, and invest the €150,000 bringing in at least €12,000 a year. You’re roughly €6,000 a year better off, and you don’t have the worry about maintenance, or selling when you change you mind and want to return to the UK.

The re-sale market is excruciatingly slow in a tourist zone, which is why you should always buy in or close to a normal city.

If you are buying for retirement, or because you want to live somewhere else, check that it suits you. Flights need to be frequent and cheap for getting back to see the kids. Cheap living perhaps? Warm sea. Plenty to do. Good climate. And talk to the locals, and read the letters expats write to the newspaper to get a feel for the place. Then check the property sales section to get a more realistic feel for prices.

>>>>> 2 Always spend time living in the target area before buying. Three months minimum. And check out whether it’s for you. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES RELY ON PROMOTIONAL TV PROGRAMS.

>>>>> 3 Work out (from tip 1) where would suit you best. Town, country etc. Close to shops and all amenities if you are old or frail.

>>>>> 4 Now check property prices using the local press. Do not under any circumstances go into an estate agent’s office to check prices. They have nothing to do with reality. And check prices against the local economy. See tip 5.

>>>>> 5 Now do some proper research. What’s the average wage? Property turnover? Rental returns, and so on? If the average wage is €1000 a month, what should the cost of an average home be? Maximum 4.5 times income + deposit. Answer, about €60,000. That’s what the locals are paying. Why should you pay more? The real answer to that question would have to be “Because you’re daft.” That’s what you should pay. Add no more than 50% for a top quality area. If the cost is more than that then you are being screwed. I dont care what anyone else says, I say you are being screwed, and I can get you a better deal.

>>>>> 6 If prices are too high, wait, and think whether you should be renting instead of buying.

>>>>> 7 The rest is the same as for buying in the UK. The only difference is the currency choice for any mortgage. The euro has strengthened against sterling rather badly over the past few years. That has affected not just the amount someone would pay in sterling on a euro mortgage, but the conversion of pension funds. This latter point is crucially important. Generally speaking, get any mortgage in the same currency as your income. And remember your pension is at risk if you live in a different currency zone. If sterling crashes you will get seriously poorer.

>>>>> 8 If you are buying for a holiday home, take a course in elementary maths first. The holiday home market has crashed all over Europe. I dont see it recovering any time soon. If you buy you will be buying into a falling market. You will also find resales in tourist areas are difficult. You should preferably buy into a normal market not a tourist market. Those deals hold up in bad times a lot easier. But, and this is the crunch, it makes no economic sense to buy. It’s cheaper to invest in something that brings you in an income, and then use that income to pay rent. Now you’ve got the home and still got the money.

>>>>> 9 One further point you should consider when buying abroad. By buying real estate you are investing in a country. Would you invest in a company that was going. broke, or was not performing well? Of course not. Investing in a country is no different. Do not invest in under-performing or broke economies. You should under no circumstance invest in politically unstable countries either. That rules out Turkey. Forget Greece and Cyprus, they are bankrupt. Forget Italy, Portugal and Spain. All these countries are in dire economic straits. You have been warned!

>>>>> 10 Call John Clare and get his personal advice. I’ll save you tens of thousands of pounds. I’ll charge you peanuts.

john

Buying Real Estate in Turkey

Buying Real Estate in Turkey

This excerpt is part of a longer article on buying property in Turkey, originally published at the end of 2012. I have been advising people to steer clear of this country for the past thirty years.

I am re-publishing this here for the simple reason that I do seem to have a continuing clientele visiting this site, but the main articles are now available from this website:

http://www.property.org.uk/unique/blogs/unique-property-blog.html

 

Two of you have asked about interesting properties for sale in Turkey. Unfortunately I cant find much. There obviously are interesting properties around but I suspect they are all in places none of you would be keen to move to.

One of the big problems with Turkey is that it’s borders are rather problematical.  If you look at a map you will note that although one of Turkey’s borders, it’s smallest, abuts the EU (or at least it does at the moment, maybe next year half that border will be with Greece). The rest, however, are dodgy areas.

The western half of the country abuts the Mediterranean, Greece, and the Black Sea, with a small border with Bulgaria. However, have a look at the borders to the eastern part of the country. Georgia (nasty trouble spot), Armenia (nasty trouble spot), Iran (potential third world war country), Iraq (already in civil war), Syria (already in civil war). I mean, guys, hold on, is this really a place you seriously want to invest in?

This is not for me, however, you’re asking the questions, so here we go.

First, I cant find many unusual properties in Turkey, which is odd because there are some very interesting cave homes in Cappadocia. They are well inland, to the eastern side of Turkey, so may not be of interest to those who dont speak Turkish. We are looking at an area well away from tourist spots, in a rural mountainous zone, not that far from the border with Iran, with a Kurdish hot-spot not far to the south. Are you still interested? ………

If you wish to read on, go here

Jonty Crossick, serial fraudster or just a hopeless incompetent?


Jonty Crossick is a man to be avoided by everyone who wishes to keep their pension intact.  This blog is issued in the public interest to alert people to steer well clear of anything this man does.

Mr Crossick is at liberty to sue me if he thinks I am libeling him. However, I have something in excess of 1000 documents to prove my assertion that any contact with him will damage your wealth, and would be happy to produce those documents in any UK court.

I, and about ten thousand other folks, have had the misfortune to be misled by Jonty Crossick. He is either totally incompetent or an out and out crook. The way the money has gone, the latter is the more obvious choice.

To my certain knowledge Mr Crossick has touted for funding for close on a hundred property projects. Out of all those schemes only one has had a partly successful outcome. All the others have led to massive losses for about ten thousand folks.

He set up property deals in the north of England. That entire business was put into bankruptcy with massive losses.

He set up a grand scheme for investing in property in Eastern Europe. That fell apart with investors losing over £100 million. I even lost money on that myself. Crossick’s partner, Craig Cameron, was fined £300,000 for dodgy dealing, and investors’ money was siphoned out of the companies and has gone missing, presumably into Crossick’s pocket. Not a single penny of what I invested actually reached the project I thought I’d invested in.

And now, here he is, jumping up again, offering to help people invest. What will happen is that he will help you transfer your hard earned investment funds into his pocket. I’m sure he has some amazing schemes up his sleeve. Don’t go near them. Don’t go anywhere near him. You will regret it if you do.

I’m surprised he has found a group of partners. They may be honest, but if they are allying themselves to Jonty Crossick either they haven’t done a check on his past, in which case they are incompetent, or they are crooks as well. Either way, are they the kind of people you want to do business with?

Who am I talking about here? First, Jonty Crossick, scam artiste extraordinaire. Second, his company Earthhawk. I know nothing about his partners, but they are prepared to do business with a person with an well documented history of fraud and incompetence. All I can say is that if you ally yourself with a crook, you must expect people to think you are a crook also. David Sherman, Dilip Sahajpal, Eva Eastman, Rob Elings; can any of you guys say with a straight face that you have checked out Mr Crossick’s past history of fraud and business incompetence, and yet you are still prepared to do business with him, and that past history is okay with you? Is so, you must expect any mud thrown your way to stick.

Let’s put some figures to the list of woes investors have had to put up with from Jonty Crossick.

It is estimated that Jonty Crossick and former wife Alise Crossick have defrauded up to 25,000 investors out of sums in excess of €250 MILLION. For example, Jonty and Alise Crossick’s own Ready2Invest website boasted that they had “sold over €400 million of off-plan property to our 25,000-strong network of investors in 16 countries across the world…” and “we also operate a private equity arm, which has raised over €150 million for 18 developments in eight countries, with an aggregate gross development value of nearly €2 billion”.

All these deals went down the drain and left those thousands of investors with massive losses.

You can see a list of the known Crossick schemes where investors have lost significant sums of money at www.r2iactiongroup.org/r2i-schemes.html. If you invested in any of these, you may wish to make contact with the R2i Action Group via that website.

I have not tracked a single investor who achieved the financial returns promised by Jonty Crossick – and only a handful (in the Bayside Silver Coast development in Portugal) made within 10% of the promised returns.

You have been warned. DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS PERSON OR WITH HIS ASSOCIATES!

If you want to read about some of his scams from other sources, try these websites.

http://www.fca.org.uk/news/fca-bans-and-fines-two-ucis

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/fca-bans-and-fines-former-burlington-director

Please note, the only reason Jonty Crossick has not been nailed by the FCA is because he has never run a regulated business, he gets others to front the schemes. That means that if anything goes wrong once you sign up you will not be protected in any way. What you lose, you lose.

john clare
(one of the people who have been deceived and defrauded by Mr Crossick)

White Sands & Green Planet

A few years back Green Planet Plc starting selling plots of land in the Province of Natal in North East Brazil. They operated out of expensive premises in The Gherkin in the City of London.

The main area for sale was at The White Sands Country Club, and White Sands Towers, just a few miles to the north of the city of Natal.

Admittedly this is a great area for development, but was it a great deal?

Purchasers of land at White Sands are mostly still waiting for certificates to show they own anything. Some have been offered planning certificates, but these relate to what we would normally call outline consent rather than detailed consent. My understanding is that the planning certificates relate to what the Brazilians called the loteamento, or the area classification. This is stage one of a rather lengthy process that can take four years or more to come to fruition.

To the best of my knowledge there have been no updates.

A trust certificate was issued to some purchasers claiming that a company called Title and Trust was acting as trustee for the operation. That company ceased trading at least two years ago.

Green Planet’s website, though still online, has not been updated for nearly two years. The company moved from The Gherkin into smaller offices in Soho Square. They then moved again into even smaller officers in Covent Garden, and my understanding is that there is one room, a desk, and a telephone, that is never answered.

It also appears that most of the directors have resigned, and the company is a skeleton. Not only is the UK version of the company no longer functioning, but neither are the two related companies in Gibraltar.

In short, the situation would appear to be that the company no longer exists, and the money that has been paid over for plots of land has gone god knows where, and there is in all probability no ownership of land in Brazil at all.

Someone claiming to be called Brian Hubbard appears to be acting as some kind of watchdog for the company. What his purpose is, is not clear at the moment, and although he has offered to speak to me, he has not returned my calls, neither has he sent any meaningful email of explanation to me. For the record, Brian’s email address is brian.hubbard@greenplanetinvestment.com

Whether there is anything tangible that could be called Green Planet Investment is another matter.

A copy of this post will be emailed to him, and I will post any reply he chooses to make. However, at the moment it would appear that Green Planet was yet another fraudulent operation, and those of you who have been defrauded are invited to join a group to see what, if anything, can be salvaged from this mess.