Top 10 Overseas Property Investments in 2010

1. BrazilThe Brazilian property market has got a lot going for it. The country is attracting a lot of inward investment, has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, a rapidly emerging mortgage market, a general shortage of quality homes, and has been selected to host the 2014 football World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. This will lead to the construction of new and improved infrastructures and homes across Brazil.Property investors from around the world are flocking to Brazilian shores with a view to snapping up real estate, in anticipation of future capital growth.One local expect projects Brazilian property prices could appreciate by up to 200% over the next decade, driven by the country’s burgeoning economy, and the pending introduction of mortgages to overseas nationals.Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs believes that Brazil’s economic growth could outstrip that of the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) member nations over the next few years.Brazil’s economy is widely expected to become the fifth largest in the world by the time the Olympic Games kicks off in 2016, and yet Brazil property and land prices still remain a fraction of those found in more developed nations.The Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has already pledged to spend up to £11.5bn on building a million new homes in Brazil between now and 2011.However, potential high property investment rewards are not with out their risks, as crime and corruption still remains widespread in Brazil.2. FranceIn stark contrast to the relatively high risk, high return nature of investing in Brazil, the risks associated with investing in French property are far lower.France has traditionally always been a rather safe haven for property investors. The nation was the first European country to come out of recession in 2009, reflecting the fact that the global credit crunch had much less of an impact, compared to other European counterparts.France’s strong economy is having a positive impact on its property market, which now appears to be on the road to recovery.Increasing property and mortgage transactions are boosting residential values, with the latest FNAIM data revealing that the average price of a French property appreciated by 2.8% between April and September 2009.Although average prices remain down 7.8% year-on-year, the market is generally expected to improve further, due to France’s prudent attitude to mortgage lending.Anyone taking out a mortgage in France is generally only permitted to borrow one third of their total gross monthly income. This has ensured that mortgages remain readily available, with 100% loan-to-value home loans available at competitive borrowing rates.Consequently, mortgage lending in France is soaring. French mortgage broker Athena Mortgages reports that there was a 21% rise in mortgage enquiries in Q3 2009 compared with the previous quarter.The buy-to-let and leaseback sectors are reportedly attracting particular interest from investors, due to improved yields across the country.The capital city of Paris has long been identified as one of the most attractive European cities for investment, and is typically the most popular place to buy a home in France, along with Cannes, Marseille and Nice, which are all located along the southern Mediterranean coast.3. USAThe USA property market may be showing tentative signs of improvement, following one of the worst economic and property crashes in living memory, but the downturn has come at a cost to many US homeowners.Data from RealtyTrac shows that a record high of 938,000 US homes foreclosed in the third quarter of 2009. If this trend continues, foreclosures would reach around 3.5m by the end of 2009, up from around 2.3m properties last year.Properties in Nevada had the highest foreclosures rates in Q3, followed by homes in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Michigan, Colorado and Illinois.
Rising unemployment levels – currently at a 26-year high of 9.8% – was cited as the main reason for the increase in foreclosure levels. Yet, there may be worst to come, as the unemployment rate is not expected to peak until mid-2010.Unfortunately, one person’s misfortune is another’s gain. With around 7m properties currently in the foreclosure process, compared with 1.3m for the same period in 2005, predatory investors are buying up distressed, abandoned and repossessed homes at bargain-basement prices, as now appears to be the ideal time to fill your boots.Although the sub-prime mortgage crisis started in the USA, there are growing signs that the property market may now be at or near the bottom of the cyclical downturn. Various indices reveal that average residential prices started to rise, albeit marginally, during the second quarter of 2009.4. NorwaySales in Norway have nosedived over the past year or so, as residential values have cooled.However, the Norwegian property market downturn, which has not been anywhere near as severe as in other neighbouring countries, appears to have already bottomed out, and looks ready to lead the Scandinavian property market recovery.The key to the Norwegian property market is the strength of the country’s economy, which has made it one of the wealthiest in the world, while new housing output has dropped below average, which could fall short of demand next year.Norway is rich in both gas and oil and this helps to support the country’s economy and ensure that its currency also stays strong – both alluring to property investors.The country’s population is estimated to increase by 23% – approximately one million people – over the next 40 years, which should make sure that long-term residential demand is robust.Another positive is the fact that unemployment is extremely low – approximately 3% – compared to its European counterparts.Almost half of the Norwegian population resides in the counties of Oslo, Rogaland, Akershus and Hordaland, and so this is where property investors should focus their attentions. Property prices in these places remain relatively cheap compared to wages in Norway.5. SwitzerlandMany of the high earners currently living in Britain look set to quit the UK in droves ahead of the introduction of a 50% top tax rate in April 2010, and escape to more tax-friendly shores, such as Switzerland.The Swiss authorities are actively lobbying to attract many of these disillusioned high-net worth individuals, who are being tempted by assurances that they will be allowed to steer clear of European Union regulation and Britain’s Financial Services Authority.It is estimated that hedge funds managing in the region of £10 billion in assets have already moved to Switzerland in the past year alone. This has increased demand for homes to rent and buy.Due to canton restrictions, it has previously been difficult for foreigners to buy property in Switzerland. However, the country has now eased its strict property buying regulations, and opened its doors to more international buyers, partly through the introduction of ‘residence de tourisme’ style investments, which is similar to the ever-popular ‘leaseback’ formula in France.Switzerland, one of the richest nations in the world, is of course a tax haven.
Anyone who sets up permanent residency in Switzerland would be entitled to take advantage of the country’s favourable tax law, including the lump sum taxation, which charges a levy based on people’s lifestyle and spending habits.Given that one’s taxable income is charged at just five times their annual rent or rental value of their property, and the fact that assets outside Switzerland remain tax-free, should ensure demand for Swiss properties – to rent and buy – remains strong for years to come.Historically, Swiss property values have typically appreciated in line with inflation. Properties located at the top end of the market, in cantons like Valais and Vaud, have reportedly increased by up to 20% in the past year.6. AustraliaThe Australian economic and property market recovery has been swifter than the other leading nations around the world.It has been claimed that the revival in the country’s property market and economy is as much as 12 months ahead of the other developed countries in the economic cycle.Unemployment peaked in September 2009, in stark contrast to Britain and the USA, while increasing commodity demand from China has forced the Australian Central Bank to raise benchmark interest rates. Yet this has failed to cool strong residential demand, which coupled with a general housing shortage, is forcing property values higher.The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics house price index shows that the average price of a residential property in Australia appreciated by 4.2% in the third quarter of 2009, which means that in the year to September, residential prices increased 6.2%.Australia could be set for a residential property price boom over the next few years, as the country’s economy continues to show genuine signs of recovery.A recent Australia property report projected that average residential prices in nearly all capital cities would increase by between 11% and 19% by 2012, with the greatest property price rises expected to be recorded in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.7. MalaysiaI tipped Malaysia to be the number one place to invest in property in 2009, due to the country’s robust property ownership laws, lack of capital gains tax and attractive mortgage rates.However, residential sales were sluggish during the early half of the year, as the market struggled as a direct consequence of the global credit crunch, while there are some political uncertainties emerging.But with consumer sentiment improving, the recent positive market recovery, supported by the construction of new residential schemes across the country, should continue in 2010.While property prices race ahead across much of Asia – in countries like China, Vietnam and Singapore – which has led to heightened fears of budding property bubbles, the Malaysian property market has merely stabilised, making it suited to more balanced investors.With an extremely young and well-educated population, long-term demand for property in Malaysia looks set to grow.Domestically, an increasing number of people are moving from the countryside into the larger cities, while internationally Malaysia looks set to cross a demographic landmark of huge social and economic importance.Malaysia’s population is growing by around 2%, or an extra 500,000 people, every year. The World Bank projects the country’s population will grow annually by 1% until 2050, which will place further pent-up demand on property values.Malaysia’s property prices are still lower than they were in 1997, due partly to the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990′s, suggesting very real room for growth.8. Abu DhabiThe recent property price falls in the fast growing UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, the richest and largest of all the seven UAE states, have been nowhere near as severe as in neighbouring Dubai.The tax-efficient emirate has the largest fossil fuel reserve in the UAE, is the fourth biggest natural gas producer in the world, has the world’s highest income per capita, is home to almost all of the Arabic Fortune 500 companies, and is currently sitting on over 88 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.Yet Abu Dhabi is now actively trying to reduce its reliance on oil, and is diversify its economy into the financial services and tourism sectors. Billions of pounds have been allocated for infrastructure projects and the development of residential, leisure and cultural schemes across the oil-rich emirate. The plans are truly remarkable.Nevertheless, investors seeking out bargain deals will find some of the best opportunities for distressed property investments in the Gulf region in Abu Dhabi.The recent slowdown in the property market means that just 45,000 are anticipated to be completed in the capital in the next four years, augmenting the exiting housing shortage.The supply of housing stock remains scant, partly because Abu Dhabi is not part of a community master-plan like those pioneered by Emaar and Nakheel in Dubai.The housing shortfall in the capital is expected to stand at around 15,000 homes next year, which could mean that property prices and rents are forced up, while residential demand – domestic and international – is expected to increase.Because Abu Dhabi does not have the same high level of exposure to the global financial crisis, compared with other UAE emirates, mortgages for non-residents – at up to 75% loan-to-value – are readily available again. This is likely to appeal to buy-to-let investors, as well as those people seeking equity release and to remortgage their properties in Abu Dhabi.9. OmanThe relaxed Arabian state of Oman, voted ‘destination of the year 2008′ by Vogue magazine, has long been a popular holidaying destination for people living within the GCC.With a population of around 2.3m, Oman is being modernised and liberalised culturally and economically by hereditary Sultan, Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said, a forward-thinking leader.Sultan Qaboos strategy for economic growth – Vision 2020 – aims to diversify Oman’s economic dependency on oil, and focus on other industries, such as property and tourism.Demand for property in Oman is primarily being driven by the Sultan’s decision to introduce legislation in 2004 – ratified in 2006 – permitting foreigners to buy freehold property and land in designated tourist areas, most notably Muscat. These projects are referred to as Integrated Tourism Complexes (ITC). Furthermore, foreign homeowners can now apply for residency visas.A number of luxurious developments are being erected across Oman including, The Chedi, Azaiba, Wadi Kabi, The Wave, Barr Al Jissah Residences, Jebel Sifah, Salalah Beach, The Malkai, Muscat Hills, Al Madina A’Zarqa, Jebel Sifah, and Salalah Beach.The fact that Oman appeals to end-users – not just investors – means that the medium to long-term prospect for Omani property market growth looks good.10. South AfricaSouth African property market conditions look ripe for investment, as the country starts to come out of recession. Recent property price falls appear to be bottoming out, while FIFA’s 2010 football World Cup fast approaches.From the moment world football’s governing body, FIFA, awarded South Africa the rights to host the World Cup in 2010, shrewd property investors from around the globe have been looking on with great interest, with one eye firmly on cashing in on the sport’s popularity.The first ever FIFA World Cup to be hosted on African soil has the potential to be the biggest sporting event of all time.The tournament is expected to attract around 350,000 football fans for a month of football mayhem, starting on 11 June 2010, which is tipped to contribute around £1.5bn to South Africa’s gross domestic product and generate another £500m in government taxes.South Africa property prices haven softened over the past year or so, due to a fall in residential demand, caused by reduced housing affordability, higher inflation and interest rates.But residential prices could soon experience growth, on the back of what should be a reinvigorated economy, spurred by the football tournament.While the odds may be stacked up against the South African football winning the World Cup in 2010, it is not too far fetched to assume that the country’s housing market could prove to be the real winner of the tournament, generating significant returns for property investors in the process.

Who Are You Trying to Kid With That Business Plan?

A lot of people dream of starting their own business. They have heard of the “unlimited opportunities” and the “complete freedom” and the “not having a boss”. If you are one of those who have that dream and believe it really can come true then I have something to say to you “WAKE UP!”When you start your own business you don’t have ‘complete freedom’. As a matter of fact there’s a really good chance that you will have less freedom, a lot less freedom. To be successful you will most likely be working seven days a week and you will be working longer hours and you will be working for a lot less money (at least in the beginning). Does it still sound like something you really want to do?As far as ‘not having a boss’ goes, well I hate to be the one to break this to you but you will always have a boss. If you don’t do what the customers want then you will go out of business and if you are lucky enough to borrow money to start and run your business then your banker/investors will be telling you a lot about how you are going to run your business. Okay so maybe they aren’t your ‘boss’ but they are still the ones who will tell your what you must do. And that’s what your current boss does now. Does it still sound good?Of course you can be stubborn and do what you want instead of what the customers want and there’s a word for business owners that do that. They are called employees because they went out of business and had to go back to work for someone else. Still interested in starting your own business?I’m going to assume at this point if you are still reading, that you are interested in starting your own business. Don’t get me wrong, I have started lots of companies and had a lot of success. Over a period of ten years I actually sold two of my companies to a Fortune 50 company for a LOT of money. At that time a lot of my friends commented on how lucky I was for that to happen. I just smiled and didn’t respond to those types of comments. You see, they only saw the end result of a lot of really hard work and a lot of really long hours working seven days a week. They didn’t see the failed marriage, the teetering on the brink of not being able make my payment to the bank. They didn’t see me working for free with no salary at all for weeks and weeks. They didn’t see me having to take money from my personal checking account in order to meet payroll. Yep, I sure was lucky.When you start your own business you don’t see things like those I just mentioned. If you are serious about starting your own business then you have heard that you must have a ‘business plan’ to take to the investors. Well, I have looked at lots and lots of business plans over the years and for the most part they were all worthless. People who want to start a business tend to see the world through rose colored glasses. For example when they get to the part on the business plan where they are to assess the competition nearly everyone completely under estimates not only the number of competitors but the strength of the competitors too. People who are convinced that they want to go into business for themselves tend to operate with blinders on. I’ve seen people come up with some really outlandish things in the ‘Competition Analysis’ of a business plan.Failure to properly analyze the competition is one of the most common flaws I see in start-up business plans. Here’s an example: I had a gentlemen come to me (as a potential investor) with the idea of starting his own Lexus repair shop. He had been a mechanic for over 15 years and had all of the ‘industry certifications’ and had been through all sorts of courses and schools on how to diagnose and repair just about anything related to Lexus automobiles. He had no experience in how to “run” a repair shop but that’s the subject of another article.Here’s how brief recap of how the conversation about competition went:Me: “What about your competition, who are they? Him: “There really isn’t any”. Me: “What? How do people get their cars repaired now?” Him: “Nearly everyone takes their cars to one of the local dealerships for repairs. I can do it a lot cheaper than the dealerships because I will not have all their overhead.” Me: “So there are no independent shops that work on Lexus?” Him: “There are some independent shops but they are so small that I wouldn’t consider them real competitors.” Me: “So why are they so small?” Him: “I think their prices are too high.” Me: “Are their prices lower than the dealerships who are doing the majority of the work now?” Him: “Yes. The independent shops are almost always a lot cheaper than the dealerships.” Me: “So maybe the independents are so small because people who own a Lexus are not swayed by lower prices. After all they paid a lot for their car. Maybe they are not as price conscious as you think.” Him: “I can do the same work for 30% to 40% cheaper, how could they not be interested in that?”Can you see what’s going on here. This guy was convinced he could do it better, faster and cheaper than anyone else. Yet the facts as he presented them showed that the customers he wanted to go after were not easily persuaded by the “cheaper price” argument which happened to be what he wanted to use as his unique selling proposition.One of my favorite sayings when talking to people about their business plans is “Don’t confuse me with the facts because my mind is already made up.” A business plan is supposed to get people to think. To do an unemotional analysis to see if there really is a viable opportunity there. But too many of them will do all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify their position. I don’t care what type of business you are thinking about starting, there is competition out there. Don’t kid yourself.Another big problem I see in business plans is a lack of management experience. Here’s another real world example. I had a ‘friend of a friend’ ask me to meet with a friend of theirs. It was a woman who had the idea of starting her own “cookie bakery”. She didn’t have the funds necessary and was coming to me as a potential investor. I agreed to meet with her. One of the very first questions I asked was “Where did you come up with the idea of starting your own bakery”? She said that for years she had baked cookies and she had lots and lots of people tell her she should start her own bakery. These people (mostly friends and family) said she baked the best cookies they had ever tasted. She had brought some to our meeting and to her credit, they were very good.When I asked her about her experience in running a bakery she told me she had never actually worked in a bakery. As a matter of fact, she had been a secretary up until the birth of her second child and had taken 6 years off. Now that the child was going to school, she was ready to “go into business for myself”.Out of respect for the friend who had asked me to meet with her I didn’t quickly end the meeting as I normally would have. Instead I took some time and asked her some questions. My goal was to try to get her to stop being emotional and to only analyze the facts. A few of the questions were:”Have you picked out a location?”
“Do you have any idea what the lease will be?”
“How much will it cost to renovate to get it ready?”
“How much equipment will it take?”
“Can you lease it or do you have to buy it?”
“Where are you going to get your customers?”
“How much is the insurance going to be?”
“What about liability insurance in case someone claims your cookies made them sick?”
“Where are you going to get your customers?”
“How are you going to advertise?”
“How about utilities?”
“How much will it cost you to make a single cookie?”She stumbled through most of her answers and in exasperation said “You don’t seem excited about this idea”. She said she was really excited about the idea and was hoping I would get excited to. I told her I get excited when the companies I have invested in are making a lot of profit.The meeting was going nowhere and I couldn’t get through all of her emotions so I told her to get all of the information together then total up the monthly expenses with no salary for herself and come back and tell me how many cookies she needed to sell everyday just to pay the bills. She told me that as the owner she should get a salary. I agreed and said your salary will be paid from the profits so your income is virtually unlimited. Just put the numbers together and give me a call when you can tell me how many cookies you have to sell everyday just to pay the bills.Guess what? I never heard back from her. I was the one who rained on her parade with a harsh dose of reality.It takes a lot of courage to go into business for yourself. It’s not for the faint of heart and requires a 100% commitment. And in the beginning it requires you to take a realistic look at the facts without deluding yourself. If you are going to present your business plan to anyone else with the hopes of having them invest in your new venture, you better be ready for some really tough questions. The best way to prepare yourself for those types of questions is to not kid yourself when working up your business plan. As a final note don’t EVER tell a potential investor that there is no competition. They know better.

Small Business Consulting Opportunities – Be Your Own Boss

Small Business Consulting Opportunities Are EndlessIn reality, anyone can become a consultant. Small business consulting opportunities today are endless. If you have an area that you are extremely knowledgeable in and you have the drive and passion for excellence, you could become a consultant.Many of the small business consulting opportunities do not require any special training. For example, if you are really good with computers, the software they use and network security, you could become an IT business consultant. Perhaps you are very creative and knowledgeable when it comes to marketing. You know how to take a product and make it sell. You could become a marketing consultant.There are a few things you should keep in mind when browsing the small business consulting opportunities available. The first thing to consider is the qualifications that are needed. Is the area you are considering something you could call yourself an expert in? Are you familiar with the current information that is needed? For instance, when it comes to becoming an IT consultant, you would need to be knowledgeable with all of the current computer information. Technology is constantly changing and you have to know all of the up-to-date information. Another thing you need to check on is if there are any special certifications or licenses that are needed. While some companies may not require you to have a degree in a certain area, they may require you to be certified. Organization is another key factor when researching the small business consulting opportunities. You need to make sure that you are able to handle time management and be prepared when you enter into a situation.Small business consulting opportunities are readily available to those people who are critical thinkers. A consultant is known as a problem solver and in order to solve issues effectively and efficiently, a person has to be able to demonstrate problem solving. A consultant works side by side with the business, therefore communication is important. A successful consultant must have excellent communication skills. They also need to have leadership skills. A consultant has to lead a company to success, and in order to do this, they have to lead. When a consultant comes into a company, the people there are relying on them to take their company to the top. The consultant has to take the lead and run with it, take control of the situation.With so many small business consulting opportunities in many different areas, pricing is very important. A consultant needs to know how to set an hourly rate if their services are used by the hour. If a company uses them on a day to day basis, then the consultant needs to know how the prices for daily rates. Some companies will need a consultant to help with projects. If this is the case, a consultant needs to know how to bill their client by the project. When a company uses a consultant on a monthly basis, then the consultant would charge a monthly retainer. A small business consultant usually makes a substantial amount of money and pricing is the key element into turning those small business consulting opportunities into a success. Many consultants will require their client to pay a deposit beforehand. There will be occasions where the consultant will pay for expenses out of their own pocket. It is important for them to know how to get reimbursement from the company they are working with.There are many areas of business, making the small business consulting opportunities endless. A great consultant has to have knowledge, passion, and understanding. There are thousands of people who have knowledge that they didn’t even know existed. Once they tap into that knowledge, educate themselves even further and put that knowledge to use by helping others, they are considered a consultant. A business consultant is the most sought after because there are companies developing all over the world.One of the best small business consulting opportunities is being your own boss. You can set your own hours and pay, which makes you the boss. Of course you have to work certain hours, especially when helping a company with a project, but you basically are in control of that also. You just have to determine when the project needs to be done and how many hours it will take you to complete it. In reality, you have the most control over your work schedule when you become a consultant. You set the prices you are to be paid, and if you are an expert in a certain area, it is up to you to make sure your prices are set to what your time is worth. You are in complete control!If you would like to know more about small business consulting opportunities, you can click the link below to find out more information.