Eco Homes

Eco Homes

There is an article in one of the magazines I subscribe to about a chap, Simon Dale, who has built his own sustainable home for £3,000 mostly out of found objects, and using only a chain saw and a hammer.

Eco Home

He had this dream, the dream so many of you have, to live in woodland, close to nature, growing his own food, and generally living a low-impact life. Here are a few key points about his eco home:

Timber from thinnings from the surrounding woodland
Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for insulation
Plastic sheet, mud and turf for low impact roof
Heating from a wood burner
Flue goes through stone/plaster lump to retain and slow release heat
Skylights for natural light
Solar panels for electricity
……….and so on.

Eco home living room

While we are on the subject, if an eco home interests you, have a look at the Lammas Project. This is a voluntary organisation that has been working to promote low impact development for the last three years. It was involved in the development of a Low Impact planning policy in Pembrokeshire, the first county in the UK to introduce one. This policy allows low impact building and living where it is tied to working the land for a simple livelihood. Lammas has since, with others, been lobbying for similar national policies. A Wales-wide policy is now in public consultation, and English agricultural planning guidance is going in the same direction.

Building an eco home

Meanwhile Lammas has managed to get permission for a settlement of nine 5 acre low-impact smallholdings under Pembrokeshire’s policy.

The Tir-y-Gafel settlement is well underway. Much of the infrastructure is now in place and the buildings are starting to go up. Thousands of trees have been planted, and gardens have been started, and homes are being built. To find out more about the settlement check out the Lammas website: http://www.lammas.org.uk

Lammas also provides advice and solidarity to those pursuing low impact living elsewhere.
Simon’s website is at: http://www.simondale.net

And, of course, dont forget to check out the Unique Property website.

eco home kitchen

Best wishes
john

Lose Money in Brazil

Lose Money in Brazil

This is issued in the public interest. We have information on more sharks in the water, ready to bite off your wallet.

I have for some time been saying that Brazil is the place to buy property. I am invested there, and my investments are doing well. It would be difficult to go wrong in this country. It is coming along by leaps and bounds. It’s economy has come from nowhere just a decade ago to being just outside the top five biggest economies in the world.

Land prices in good locations in Brazil are cheap. They can only get more expensive. If you own some Brazilian land and sit on it for a while you will ultimately be able to sell for a nice fat profit.

Where there’s a profit there are thieves.

Your problem in investing in Brazil is not necessarily the investment but the sharks who sell it to you, or maybe even pretend to sell it.

There is a golden rule with all these investments. Get off your arse and go and look. If you dont you are likely to get stuffed.

I recently did a deal with a company called Cavendish Land & Property Investments (CLP). They purport to be selling land for development in Sunset Beach, Natal Province. I was initially not interested in the deal because I could not verify the company selling it was on the level, but I have a letter in my possession telling me they will buy back the property for a 10% uplift in price on 30 days notice.

Well, I sent in my request for them to do just that, and I have received no response and no sale-back. I sued them in the County Court. I now have a judgment against them.

So, here we go again. Dont have anything to do with a company selling plots of land at Sunset Beach.

CLP also run a nice line in ad-speak, telling customers that deals have been struck with Petrobras and the like. That is all codswallop. Steer well clear of this company.

john

How to Lose Money

How to Lose Money

This is issued in the public interest as a warning

I will be issuing more such warnings in the future. There are a lot of crooks out there ready and keen to take your money in return for a few empty promises that sound pretty good. And remember, it isn’t just the crooks you need to worry about, it’s the ones who have a great scheme but cant handle it so you still lose your money.

There were several clever-dicks who entered the property market at the turn of the century convinced they could make a quick buck. Those of us who knew what we were doing had entered the market almost a decade earlier, and were warning that things had perhaps gone too far too fast.

This was the time that Jonty Crossick came into prominence with his great scheme for rental properties in the UK. He sensibly concentrated on the Northern market, which is where I was based at the time, and no doubt his schemes there were a success. They should have been.

Then Mr Crossick went big time. He launched out across Eastern Europe. The right move in my opinion. I went along to the hard sell. I looked at the schemes. I looked at the ground. I went to the local planning offices. I visited local estate agents, and looked at the touristic situation. I liked what I saw. I invested.

It was then that a very complicated set of business structures was put in place with the whole thing being embedded in a trust overseen by Equity Trust in Jersey. That was when everything went quiet. It went quiet for two years.

I wont bore you with the details, but someone had been at the bank account. I have no direct evidence, except for the fact that when the accountants came in they found a complete mess and serious lack of documents, and no-one has yet managed to untangle where the money has gone, but gone it has.

There have been several bulletin boards covering the Jonty Crossick investment schemes, and the backing company Ready2Invest. You will find that those boards are filled with the stories of failed enterprises, loss of investments, and simple fraud. This is my warning: Do not touch any deal which is even remotely connected with Jonty or his companies.

He is being investigated by Sussex police on allegations of fraud. He is being sued by various entities for failed investments in Spain, and he is pushing a vineyard investment in South America which I am told is misconceived, and has scant chance of getting off the ground.

I have not invested in this, so I have done no due diligence on the project. I only have the due diligence from a third party, and the report is far from good. My advice would be to steer well clear of the deal. Even if that deal is okay in itself, which I very much doubt, it wont be when creditors from other crashed enterprises get their hands on it.

Keywords for this venture are Mendoza, and Valle de Uco. Check them out, but dont invest. You have been warned.

You will note from Ready2Invest‘s website that they have a page devoted to their track record. This is a fiction. It is not a track record, it is a selection of deals that may have sold out, but have in every instance lost value since inception. I know that there are at least a dozen or so deals which have crashed spectacularly, and, naturally, they are not mentioned.

They offer “FREE expert advice”. Do yourself a favour. Stick with me. I tell the truth and I have no deals to sell. I’m impartial and I’ve been in the business for over forty years. Caveat emptor. If you prefer English – Buyer Beware! In short, take it easy.

john

House Prices in Europe

House Prices in Europe

Madness in euroland. How does it affect house prices in Europe, and where do we go from here?

In this long running saga we have all the makings of a fantasy movie series more fantastical than Harry Potter, and probably with more episodes and retakes. I’m sure Stan Laurel could have turned it into an hilarious movie.

First, may I remind you that Iceland told the banks to go to hell when their system collapsed. Iceland is now recovering quite nicely, and they didn’t suffer a meltdown.

Secondly, may I tactfully suggest that as usual politicians have everything upside-down, and that capitalism is supposed to fund socialism, not the other way round.

You cant have socialism without money to fund it. The money comes from capitalism. My view is that Nature has had a pretty good run over four thousand million years. It has functioned on the basis of the survival of the fittest. That’s how capitalism works. Socialism has been tried by man for a hundred years and we cant point to a single success. Maybe we’ll get the hang of it, but somehow I doubt it. What has worked briefly (for about fifty years) is a kind of socialism which has been funded from the taxation of capitalism. If capitalism fails then socialism comes down with it as the money runs out.

The past three years have seen a curious experiment, started by the USA, and followed by the EU whereby governments have attempted to prop up the capitalist system using socialist principles. Capitalism depends on the survival of the fittest. For the past three years governments have been at pains to support the weak with massive injections of funding. This means money has gone to support those who should go to the wall, and therefore has not been available to those who should replace those weaker companies. There can be no recovery until funding gets to the start-ups which will gradually grow and provide for our future.

The current experiment stands zero chance of success. It is in fact failing before our very eyes. It stands to bring the whole fabric of our society down with it. Hopefully, circumstances, and common sense, will prevail before too much more damage is done. The first hopeful sign is that the Greek government is saying, let the people who have to pay for all this, vote on it. Let’s hope they do. And let’s hope they vote for common sense, and let the banks who have made serious mistakes pay for those mistakes. If it screws the European economies for the next eighteen months, tough shit. That’s better than screwing them for the next decade with bailouts made with invented money, and the consequent inflation that goes with that, and the decimation of savings and pensions.

So, we are about to see a decade of chaos, or a change of tack. But this is a property website, and a property blog. What does all this mean for people considering buying homes in euroland? And what does it mean for house prices?

If your usual currency is already the euro, then buying in euro territory makes no difference. If your usual currency is sterling I would hang on to it. The euro is about to enter a period of serious turmoil, and will probably lose substantial value. The only reason it is still where it is, is precisely because it is an international currency, not just in Europe, but throughout the world. It is also still a strong currency because the US dollar is inherently weak, so is sterling, while the yen appears to have a rationality all its own.

Interesting times are coming. I’d rather get a good seat and watch. When things get about as dark as they can get I shall start looking for bargains. Who knows, maybe in a year or two it will be time to start looking at cheap properties on the Greek islands. Already Italy is beginning to look interesting, and it can only get better.

On the other hand, what about the poor souls trying to sell, especially in Spain? I still think that selling an apartment in tourist land is a waste of time. Forget it. If I had a villa, and lived away from the tourist brouhaha I think I would take a realistic view and stay put. I would as an alternative angle my sales literature towards euro-using countries in the north.

Your best selling point is that you live in a place where the winters are kind, and daylight runs from eight in the morning till six in the evening, and if there is a frost, then it will be gone by the time you’ve finished breakfast, taken with a glass of freshly pressed orange juice. In Finland it’s dark until ten, and starts getting dark again just after lunch, and the snow levels make parking your car a geo-positioning art. I know, I’ve lived in Stockholm, and I remember taking coordinates to make sure I knew which hump in the snow represented my parked vehicle. Parking in mid winter by the lake at Arcos brings a satisfied smile to the complexion by comparison.

I am considering how I can best angle the Unique site to catch potential Snow Birds from Northern Europe. I am convinced they will be your salvation. In the meantime, Hang On!

john