Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Running against the Wind......all the way to the End.

I'm currently enjoying the sunshine in South Africa on our family farm in the Western Cape.

And although the 'holiday' is for 5 weeks, the majority of my time will be spent with all over South Africa with Lawyers, Rental Agents, Property Developers, etc. in order to improve http://www.horizon-consultancy.com/ as a whole.

But progress has been unexpectantly slow due to a number of 'speedbumbs' that I have encountered while furthering the cause..................from seriously slow internet connections to incompetent Agents / Lawyers / Developers, etc.

When I started my property adventure 5 years ago, I thought I had laid the groundwork which would exempt me and my clients, from future dealings with incompetence and the inability to provide the client with the best possible service. But I have been sadly mistaken...................even though I currently have a great team of professionals assisting me, and my clients I still find you should ALWAYS keep your finger on the button. I think Albert Ellis said it the best when he said:

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don't blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the President. You realize that you control your own destiny.

While jogging this morning, I had my i-Pod in and the song 'Against the Wind' by 'Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band' came on. For those who don't know the song, these are the lyrics of the chorus:
- Against the wind
- I'm still runnin' against the wind
- I'm older now but still runnin' against the wind
- Well I'm older now and still runnin'
- Against the windAgainst the wind
- Against the wind

I guess Bob Seger and his mates might have been unto something when they reminded us that although things are hard in the beginning, you will always have to work at something in order to achieve...................in the beginning, as well as at the end.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Behind every Great Man......lies a Greater Woman

I’ve recently discovered a TV program which airs in the UK, and is called Dragon’s Den.

The premise is that ‘Budding Entrepreneurs’ pitch their product or invention, to a panel of 5 already established and very successful Entrepreneurs, in order to raise capital for their respective product. The established Entrepreneurs then have to decide if they will invest their own money in the product, by posing various questions to the inventor thereof.

After posing their respective questions, they then must state if they are ‘IN’ or ‘OUT’. If they are ‘OUT’, then the decision is passed onto the next Entrepreneur. If by the end, none of the Entrepreneurs decide to invest, then the Inventor will of course not get his investment. But, if the Entrepreneurs are IN, they will then ‘haggle’ with the investor on what percentage of the company they want, for the capital amount invested. They can also haggle with any of the 5 other Entrepreneurs if they are also interested in the product in question.

Now, although the program in itself is most certainly fascinating, I decided to do some research on the 5 panel already established Entrepreneurs, and how they got to where they are today? The person who in my opinion is the most impressive of the 5 panelists, is a guy called Duncan Bannatyne.

Duncan Bannatyne was raised in the town of Clydebank, Scotland from a relatively poor family.

In 1963, at the of fifteen (yes, you were still allowed to do this at such a young age in those days :) , Duncan volunteered for eleven years with the Royal Navy as a junior 2nd class engineering mechanic (stoker) at the boys' training establishment HMS Ganges, Ipswich.

He served several years before receiving a dishonourable discharge (wait till you hear why!!) for disobedience and attempting to throw an officer off a boat landing jetty in Scotland - an offence punishable by hanging in a previous century!!! After the incident, he had to serve 9 months in a military detention centre before being discharged. Duncan was only nineteen years old at the time.

After spending his twenties moving from one job to another (can you see the Entrepreneur being born?), Duncan lived for a few years on the island of Jersey. With a difficult business climate for outsiders in Jersey, at age 30, Duncan and his wife (he met het on Jersey) moved to Stockton-on-Tees in Northern England.

Bannatyne's business career began almost immediately with an ice cream van purchased for £450 (and this is where it all started………). He soon expanded by buying more vans and eventually sold the business for £28,000. He then founded a nursing home business instead which he sold for £46 million in 1996 and children's nursery chain for £22 million.

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, Duncan’s wealth is estimated at £200 million.

Now, when I look at someone who has come from no education, not in an environment to aspire to something better and no family connections (his Dad said to him that Bannatyne’s aren’t supposed to own their own business), I found myself asking the questions, How and Why??!!

The answer is quite simple really……..During Duncan’s time setting up his first major business success (the nursing home care business which he sold for £46m), he received a letter from a woman asking him the following: What do you do, when you have the aspirations to be a success, but your husband hinders your ascent to the top?

Duncan’s Answer: DUMP HIM !!! :)

Duncan goes on to say, that although he was a success almost instantly at the start of his career, he could never have done it without the support of his wife. He had credit card debts of around £50 000, he could not borrow any more from ANY bank so he had to sell any assets he had (which included his ice cream business as well as his own house!!) in order for the nursing home to be built. And throughout all of it, his wife stood behind him.......

If you are destined for SUCCESS, Have you got a Partner / Wife / Husband / Boyfriend / Girlfriend holding you back ????!!!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Property Review - The Bahamas

The Bahamas - The Country of 700 Islands.

F ast Facts:
  • 3rd Wealthiest Country in the Western Hemisphere.
  • No income taxes are payable either by residents or non-residents.
  • Capital = Nassau
  • Population = 323,000
  • Currency = Dollar

Economic Overview

Has everyone got their Pina Coladas ready? Everyone got one of those small umbrellas? A piece of pineapple and maybe some nutmeg sprinkled on top for full affect? J Ok? Great !!!

Now, take your first sip and think 'The Bahamas ' .........and you suddenly see yourself whisked away to a turquoise sea teeming with sealife and sandy beaches that stretch for miles. You sit in your gorgeous Villa, while being served a seafood cocktail of shrimp & crayfish, while feeling the sun bronze your limbs......... So.....you wanna go?

Although, tourism is a major player in keeping the economy afloat, it is not the only thing going for this island paradise:

  • No income taxes, capital gains taxes, or inheritance taxes are payable either by residents or non-residents.
  • The tenant laws are pro-Landlord and only properties valued at less than B$25,000 are subject to the Rent Control Act.
  • The Economic and Political Environment is stable and the GDP per capita is among the highest in the Caribbean.
  • Seasonal Property Rental Yields top 10 to 12% per season.

So enough talk about facts, let's look at a few graphs on the Economy :

  1. Looking at the GDP per capita, there has been an increase from the early 1990's when GDB growth was a steady 3%.
  2. The only blight in this steady GDP per capita growth was in the early 1990's when inflation reached a high of just over 6%
  3. But even high inflation could not keep the tourists away as seen in Tourist Arrivals below:

Inflation has had a steady downward spiral since 1990 and this has therefore fuelled the growth of GDP.

Even though the economy relies heavily on the US Economy to ensure growth, tourist arrivals figures have remained steady since the early 1990's.

Property Market Review

So, even though the Bahamas relies heavily on the US Economy to ensure their growth, the property market is still very much in favour of investors.......

Here's why:

Foreigner restriction to buying Property?

There are no restrictions on Foreigners buying property:

The only exception is a permit from the Government before the transaction, if the property is an undeveloped land and is greater than five acres.

Are Rental Yields steady?

Yields are around 5% to 6% for properties located in the coastal areas of Nassau and other islands.

Rental yields are good in the gated communities because there are many expatriate accountants and lawyers.

Properties with seasonal rates have yields of 12% to 15% as Grand Bahamas is so close to the US , many commute backwards and forwards.

Is the Bahamas Law, Pro-Landlord or Pro-Tenant?

The Landord and Tenant act of the Bahamas is Pro-Landlord:

Rents can be freely agreed for long-term & short term tenancies.

The landlord must give the tenant proper notice of rent due and possible eviction for defaulting on rent.

If the tenant fails to pay the rent on time, the landlord can summon the local police and repossess the property.

Even though a court order is not necessary for tenant eviction, most landlords bring defaulting tenants to court and sue for uncollected rent.

How much tax will I pay on my property?

No income taxes, capital gains taxes, or inheritance taxes are payable either by residents or non-residents.

The maximum Property tax is 2% for properties worth more than US$500,000 (GBP: 250,000 , ZAR: R3,500,000)

As an investor, the only 'restriction' that the Bahamas poses is the buying costs involved in the purchasing process:

Registration Fees: The buyer must pay several fees for the property to be registered. These fees are minimal and are not expected to exceed 0.5% of property value.

Stamp Duty: Stamp Duty must be paid upon delivery of the property. Stamp Duty is typically split between buyer and seller.

  1. Up to 20,000

  2. 20,000.01 – 50,000

  3. 50,000.01 – 100,000

  4. 100,000.01 – 250,000

  5. Over 250,000

Legal Fees: Each party pays for their own lawyer. Legal fees are determined according to the property’s value:

  1. First 500,000
  2. Next 500,000
  3. Next 4,000,000
  4. Over 5,000,000

Real Estate Agent's Fee: The real estate agents’ fees are set by The Bahamas Real Estate Association. The fees are determined as follows:

  1. Undeveloped/ vacant land in all islands except Grand Bahama
  2. Improved residential properties in the Out Islands
  3. All types of property in Grand Bahama
  4. Improved residential properties (homes, condominiums) in all other islands including New Providence (location of Nassau) 6%


At a glance, you might see the Bahamas as an unobtainable paradise, only reserved for the Rich and Powerful. Exclusively frequented by celebrities to escape the limelight and for us mere mortals to merely watch and hope.......

But in actual fact, the Bahamas is a place that has all the elements that results in investors going cross eyed: no income tax, pro-landlord law & good rental yields :)

(Sources: www.globalpropertyguide.com , www.wikipedia.org Reuters, www.absa.co.za & Daily Telegraph)

Monday, 22 October 2007

Investment Opportunity - Johannesburg, South Africa

With the South African property market fast becoming a Buyer's Market, investors and potential homeowners should have a look at this wonderful New Build Property which is selling at a 35% Discount to the Market Rate:

The Property is within the secure Crescentwood Country Estate Midrand, Johannesburg:
  • Cost: R1 650 000 ( Market value: R2 500 000) = equivalent £ 110 000 / € 150 000

  • 'French Style' 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom (main bedroom is en-suite with walk-in Wardrobe)

  • 'Provencal Gourmet' Styled Kitchen with entertainment lapa leading to pergola covered patio.

  • Authentic French Styled shutters with under-floor heating throughout the property.

  • Exquisite ' French Garden ' with computerized irrigation system & Swimming Pool.

  • Water Feature at entrance and amenities within the Estate Club House.

Now that we have looked at the Facts, let's look at how the Numbers add up:
Mortgage (10% deposit - R165,000 to secure Property) = R 1 485 000
Mortgage Payment per month = R 16 697 (12.5% interest rate over 20 years)
Rental Potential (as ascertained by Estate Agent) = R12500 - R15 000
Let us assume an average of R13 750 as Rent per month (average of R12 500 & R15 000)
Therefore, Mortgage Payment subtract Rent = Shortfall per month.
R16 697 - R13 750 = R2 947 (equivalent £ 245 / € 290 per month) !!!

At just R2 947 (£ 245 / € 290) shortfall per month (NOTE: At an Average Rental Assumption) we are looking at an Incredible Investment combined with unrivaled luxury of a 'French Townhouse'.

This Investment will expire at the beginning of December 2007 and therefore it is imperative that Investors inform us of their interest to buy, so that we can arrange a viewing.

If you have any queries or require more information, please let us know.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Property Review - South Africa

South Africa - The Rainbow Nation

Fast Facts:

- Africa 's Biggest Economy.
- The World's largest producer and exporter of Gold & Platinum.
- Capital = Pretoria
- Population = 47 million
- Currency = Rand

Economic Review

If you're a Private Investor sitting in New York / London, and you want to look at the 'possibility' of investing in Africa, where would you start? (I say possibility, because many people still see Africa as a basket case, and even the thought of investing there would warrant you a trip to the hospital and getting intimate with a straight jacket !!)

Normally, you would make a list of all the countries in Africa, and start from top to bottom.........but in the case of Africa, you would have start from bottom to top :)

South Africa (yes, the country and NOT the region) has since 1994 flourished under majority rule and is set to capitalise on this momentum for future generations.

Here's why:
  1. South Africa is ranked 24th in the World in terms of GDP , corrected for purchasing power parity.
  2. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) ranks among the top 20 in the World.
  3. The South African Rand (ZAR) is the World's most actively-traded emerging market currency, and was the best-performing currency against the United States Dollar (USD) between 2002 and 2005.
  4. South Africa is also Africa's largest Energy Producer and Consumer.

So enough with the 'Colouring in the pretty Pictures and forgetting about the Reality' bit........let's get on with the hard facts, as Africa isn't called 'The Dark Continent' for nothing:

  1. South Africa has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world.
  2. Unemployment sits at approximately 25%.
  3. The Crime Rate is one of the Highest in the World, but it is the increase of violent crime that is the biggest worry.
  4. With the crumbling of the Zimbabwean economy, refugees are streaming into South Africa with an estimated 2 million Zimbabweans already residing in South Africa.

So you may say, 'Please STOP' !!! With these statistics why would anyone in their right mind even have the notion of even looking at South Africa as an 'Investment Hotspot'???

I'll tell you why, and I promise to make it short........but Sweet :

1. The emergence of a black middle-class known as 'Black Diamonds'.

2. The 2010 Soccer World Cup.

3. The ratio of Disposable Income to Household Debt which is still only at 76%.

4. 93% of Land Claims have been completed.

5. Interest Rates are still at 25 year lows from a height of 25% in 1998.

Without trying to illustrate every point made above, I have focused on the correlation between interest rates and inflation below. And without further ado, let the pictures to the talking............ :)

Tito Mboweni (The South African Reserve Bank Governor) implements a monetary policy within an inflation targeting framework.......so what do these fancy words mean??? :

  • In 'Layman's Terms - If inflation goes up, then interest rates go up.
  • If inflation goes down, then interest rates go down.

So, to illustrate this, have a look at what the graphs tell us below:

So how do these graphs above explain the growth experienced in the Property Market?

  • - If inflation goes up, interest rates go up and house price growth slows.

  • - If inflation goes down, interest rates go down and house price growth increases.

Property Market Review

So, as mentioned in the Economic Review, there are 5 major factors that make South Africa a great place for property investment..........but what exactly are these 5 factors and how will they affect the Property Market??

Let's discuss these them one by one:

1. 'Black Diamonds' - An emerging black middle-class

- Of the 28,8m adult South African population, 21,9m are of black origin:

  • Of those, 2m fall into the category called "Black Diamonds" - Black Diamonds are a group characterised by a certain amount of wealth, education and other middle-class determining factors.
  • Black diamonds make up 10 percent of black South Africans, but are responsible for 43 % of black consumer buying power, amounting to a value of approximately R130-billion.
  • Their growth has been recorded at 30% over the space of the last year.

2. 2010 Soccer World Cup (SWC) - The Biggest Event in the World

- Estimated 450 000 soccer fans are expected to visit South Africa for the SWC .

  • These fans will spend in excess of R30 billion while enjoying the tournament.
  • This 'cash injection' will push the economic growth rate up to 6%.
  • 150 000 jobs will be created during the tournament.
  • R5 billion for spending on stadiums (Renovate existing and New-built)
  • R24 billion spending on Gautrain linking Pretoria , Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport.

3. 'The Ratio' - Disposable Income to Household Debt

Disposable income is the amount that you're left with after all taxes have been paid.

Household Debt is things such as mortgage / vehicle finance payments, credit cards and Loans.

  1. South Africa 's disposable income to household debt is 76%.
  2. So for every R1 that you make after taxes have been paid, you have to pay 76c toward payments and you are therefore left with 24c.

Now you think, WOW, 'For every R1 I earn I have to fork out 76c before I can start saving'??? (that's if you're the saving type :) That's rediculously high !! So, let's compare it to some other countries:

- Germany = 115%

- Japan = 140%

- UK = 142%

- Australia = 171% !!

As you can see, South Africa 's ratio pales in comparison to other countries around the World !!

4. 'The Zimbabwe Scenario' - To take or not to grab the Land

- 97% of South African land claims have been settled, thereby leaving the issue of 'Zimbabwe Land Grabs', becoming a reality in South Africa, as very unlikely.

5. 'The Interest Rate' - Currently at a 25 year low

  • From a record interest rate of 25% in 1998, South Africa is experiencing 25 year low interest rates.
  • The current Repo Rate (the rate at which the SA Reserve Bank loans money to Commercial banks) is currently at 10% while the Prime Rate (the rate at which Commercial Banks loan to the public) is at 13.5%
  • With inflation being kept in the monetary policy range of 3-6%, any significant increases seem unlikely.

Just to give yourself a little bit of time to digest all the 'heavy' information above, let's look at some pictures !!

Look at the House Prices to Income graph below:

        As you can see, compared to the UK , Australia and USA, South Africa's house prices are still very much under-valued.

        • And coming from such a low base regarding property growth, is this where the party ends !! To quote the song from BTO.........'You aint seen nothing yet' :)


        As South Africa moves into almost 15 years after the end of 'Apartheid', there are signs that the 'Lighthouse of Africa' still had a far way to go in order to be competitive on the world stage.

        But with onset of a new era, with the new black-middle class, 2010 Soccer World Cup, comparatively low Disposable Income-Household Debt ratio, the 'Zimbabwe non-issue' and low interest rates at 25 year lows.........things are definitely on the up for the 'Rainbow Nation'.

        (Sources: http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/ , http://www.wikipedia.org/ Reuters, http://www.absa.co.za/ & Daily Telegraph)

        Sunday, 26 August 2007

        How free do you want to Be ?!

        I had a very interesting discussion on one of the forums that I frequent called ‘Business Warriors’. The forum is a group of small business owners who call themselves ‘Warriors’ and is lead by the very charismatic, Peter Carruthers.

        To give you a little background on Peter:
        • In 1992 he closed a very successful data communications business.
        • At least it was successful until his bankers decided to get out of lending money to technology firms :(
        • And this happened while the South African economy collapsed during massive political upheaval !!!

        The ‘crux’ of Business Warriors (BW) is that ideas are shared between business owners who have experienced all aspects of owning a business. What to do?, What not to do?, and what to do when the cr@p hits the fan !!

        I would seriously recommend anyone who has / or who is thinking of owning a business to join the community. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot from it, and I’m 100% sure that I will continue learning :)

        (Just click on the link, and take it from there:

        So let’s get back to the interesting discussion that I was talking about before I got sidetracked by educating you on what BW was all about. I posted a message asking the members to let me know what their thoughts were on the following question:

        How long did it take for you to be Financially Free?? (if that is the case)

        Dear MembersAs a BW, I have only recently decided to start my own business (in SA as well as in London). Although we always go into a venture with the highest hopes of success, PC (Peter Carruthers) can contribute (as can many BW's ) that the chances of longevity are stacked against us.

        Now, for those BW's who have had the success in building their own company, may I be so bold as to ask 3 simple questions:

        1) How long have you had your business(s) ?

        2) How long did it take for you become financially free with this business(s) ?

        3) If you can sum up some advice in a few words to a starting BW, what would it be ?

        Thanks a lotDomsie (this is my forum name :)

        Now, as you can see, this is quite a personal question…………….. but I only realised my mistake after I posted the message !! And so I thought to myself, that I would be really impressed if anyone even attempted to answer this question…….

        But lo and behold, I got a response !!!!……….and then another………and then another…….and by this stage I have had 22 responses which is seriously incredible !! To be fair, I was almost more impressed with the amount to replies than the content in those replies……………but that’s only until I read a few of the replies J WOW !!!

        To put the replies in a nutshell, it came down to a theory called ‘Maslows Hierachy of Needs’ which states the following steps to self actualisation or self fulfilment:

        Step 1: Physiological Needs (food, water, shelter)

        Step 2: Safety Needs (Personal security from crime)

        Step 3: Social Needs (family, friends)

        Step 4: Esteem Needs (confidence, achievement, respect of others)

        Step 5: Self Actualisation (self actualisation / financial freedom / self fulfilment)

        Note that this is a very subjective theory, and that anyone’s idea of self actualisation is different to another.

        It does also remind me of the following adage: ‘The difference between the Rich Man and the Poor Man, is that the Poor Man only ever thinks of his next meal, while the Rich Man, only thinks of his last’

        When I was in the Caribbean on holiday this year, I was accompanied with 7 other mates, mostly from Johannesburg, South Africa. Now between the 7 of us, there were Chartered Accountants, Property Developers, Business Owners, etc. and as you might think, at some stage of the holiday the conversation turned to money. Now it wasn’t a conversation on who has the most or who can be the most flash.

        The conversation was about ‘How money can change a person’………..for the better, or for the worse :(

        The very interesting conclusion to that conversation was this: 'You could be a Billionaire, or you can be a pauper. But if you could still have a good time with the people who you love and care for (no matter the size of your wallet), then you were rich beyond your wildest dreams......'

        Wednesday, 15 August 2007

        Property Review - Germany

        Germany - The Land of Poets and Thinkers

        Fast Facts:

        - The World's 3rd Largest Economy.
        - The World's biggest Exporter & 2nd biggest Importer of goods.
        - Capital = Berlin
        - Population = 82 million
        - Currency = Euro

        Economic Overview:

        Just for a second, believe that you are a Poet or a Thinker, and think 'Germany'........and see what comes to mind: Beer, very loud Techno Music and hair gel........?? Maybe :)

        But the truth stands that 'Deutchland' (as it is affectionately known) is on the up........and on the up in a big way !!

        This is why:

        • Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the third largest economy in the world, behind the United States and Japan.
        • It is ranked fifth in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity ( PPP ) (Note: PPP is based on the law of one price, which is the idea that, in an efficient market, identical goods must have only one price)
        • According to the World Trade Organization, Germany is the world's top exporter with $1.133 trillion exported, from the beginning of 2006. Most of the country's exports are in engineering, especially in automobiles (Mercedes, BMW, Audi - as is expected), metals, and chemical goods.
        • In the service sector, Germany ranks second behind the United States and in terms of total capacity to generate electricity from wind power, Germany is first in the world and it is also the main exporter of wind turbines.

        Now you may think, 'That's all very well, but these are facts which are contrived and any country in the World will have 'at least something that they can be proud of and be able to quote them in neat little paragraphs as above'............(well, at least most countries :)

        But this little lesson on Deutchland has not yet run its course, Dear Reader......please, read on:

        • Although problems created by reunification in 1990 have begun to decline, the standard of living remains higher in the western half of the country than in the eastern half.

        • Germans continue to be concerned about a relatively high level of unemployment, especially in the former East German states where unemployment tops 18% !! :(

        Now here comes the important reasons 'Why Germany has not performed':

        In spite of its extremely good performance in international trade, domestic demand has stalled for many years because of stagnating wages and consumer insecurity.

        Germany's government runs a restrictive fiscal policy and has cut numerous regular jobs in the public sector. But while regular employment in the public sector shrank, "irregular" government employment such as "one euro" jobs (Jobs which are temporary & very low wage paying), government supported self-employment, and job training increased.

        But there is a silver lining (At last they cry !!) :

        • The national economy has nonetheless shown signs of improvement in recent years, as the economics magazine Handelsblatt declaring Germany one of the most competitive in the Eurozone. Economists for the Institute for Economic Research in Berlin expect Germany's economic growth to increase consistently over the next few years.

        Property Overview:

        Now that the boring 'Economic Bla-Bla' is out of the way, let's get back to the interesting part and the reason why we're writing this Blog........Property !!!

        When comparing a potential investment country, we should always look at the historic information that we have available, as we don't know what will happen in the future.........(for those who know what will happen in the future in international property, please drop me an e-mail so we can share :)

        So here is the 'Historic Information Bit' :

        • In the past, a lot of investment in Berlin and the so-called Neue Bundesl√§nder (New Federal Countries) had turned bad. Rents calculated as the basis of the investments were not attained, and whole buildings stood empty for long periods, despite their high quality.
          At the same time the real estate market in much the former West Germany remained stagnant for much of the nineties.

        • However, in 2003 owner-occupied apartment prices in South-Western Germany, especially in smaller cities, began to recover.

        • But the housing market has turned around only in the most economically successful cities. (NB)

        • Munich prices have been rising, and the city now has perhaps the highest per square metre apartment prices in Germany , with Frankfurt and Berlin trailing behind.

        Enough of all this writing, let's see some pictures !! (but they do have a purpose other than just looking pretty) :

        As you can see when looking at the graphs above, the market increased sharply after 1990 until 1995 (which was when supply was more than demand) when properties built was at a high.

        Now that properties built have decreased considerably since 1995, demand will increase again due to demand being more than supply. So the very simple 'Law of Demand and Supply' can be explained here:

        - Too many houses, less houses demanded and Prices decrease.

        - Too few houses, more houses demanded and Prices increase.

        Over the last decade rents have been stagnant or have fallen. Rents today are still 13% lower in nominal terms than at their 1994 peak, and have declined very significantly in real terms.

        1. However, the fall in rental levels has been less than the decline in property prices, leading to higher yields.

        And now a little bit of information on those VERY important yields :

        • Rental yields in small flats in Berlin (30 - 75 sq. m.) are generally higher than other sized units, at 7% - 7.35%.
        • Bigger properties have yields at 5% to 5.5%. Rental yields for Frankfurt flats range from 5% to 6.6% while Munich flats have lower yields, at 4.4% to 4.6%.

        One of the most important things about why Germany is a very viable property investment destination, is that more Germans live in rented accommodation than in their own homes. About 58% of households are renters, which is one of the highest proportions in the world !!!

        Development Overview - Peter Vischer Strasse, Berlin

        Although Horizon Consultancy have more than one investment opportunity in Germany , I think that the Peter Vischer Strasse in Berlin is the best option.

        Here is why:

        • The Peter Vischer Strasse is situated in the Schaneberg area which is one of the most popular and desirable residential areas of Berlin.

        • This premier six-storey residence overlooks a beautifully maintained communal garden area, and is situated just a few minutes' drive from the world-famous Kurfarstendamm shopping avenue.

        • It was originally constructed during the rebuilding of Berlin during the Fifties & has recently had major renovation work done which has now been completed. (We wouldn't want you living / buying a bomb shelter now, would we?? :)

        • Strolling around the private garden area that is encapsulated by these apartments you get a real feel of quality construction combined with modern standards, and all the time in keeping with its history and charm.

        The Important Facts on the Development :
        • As an average, only 15% of the population of in Berlin own the respective house that they are living in.

        • Over 40% of the apartments in Peter Vischer Strasse are owned by the tenants themselves, therefore solidifying the attractiveness of these apartments.

        • Along with the option of a 10-year rental guarantee and an interior renovation of the apartment, this proposal really is as close as you can get to a perfect investment vehicle.
          Capital Gains tax is not applicable if the apartment is owned for 10 years or more, and sold thereafter.

        • Surrounded by a wide variety of shops, restaurants and bars and within walking distance of the underground, this property offers investors a tremendous opportunity to claim a stake in Europe 's youngest capital.

        The trendy Schaneberg district - birthplace of Marlene Dietrich - is renowned for its bohemian atmosphere and style, and the network of cool coffee shops, curious boutiques and trendy "places to be seen", is ever-more beguiling.


        Germany , although not without its inherent problems such as high unemployment, is in a unique position to record excellent growth over the next few years.

        Growth in Berlin alone has been predicted between 10-15% for the next 10 years & will have a good chance of meeting these expectations due to the recent Soccer World Cup investments and exposure experienced.

        Mortgage deregulation is on the horizon (as happened in UK in late 1970s where suddenly people could buy without having to produce 25-40% deposits).

        (Sources: http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/ , http://www.wikipedia.org/ Reuters & Daily Telegraph)

        Friday, 3 August 2007

        3....2.....1.........LIFTOFF !!!!!!!

        Yes, it’s official…….’Horizon Consultancy has entered the vaults of Cyberspace’…….and as a start, let’s quote that lovely Gaelic Blessing (with a bit of a twist)

        - May the road rise up to meet us.
        - May a windfall from property be always paid in full.
        - May the Taxman always agree on what we have lodged.
        - May our Forex payments never be charged a fee.
        - And may God hold us in the palm of his hand.
        - Until we do business again.

        John Lennon once said, Life is what happens when we’re too busy making other plans’. And believe me when I tell you, that I’ve been working on the launch of Horizon for many moons now, that I’ve forgotten to plan on what to do after the Launch……...Although it’s a bit of a relief to FINALLY have ‘A Face to which potential clients can be informed of your services’, I have a sneaking suspicion that the real work starts now !! Anyway, enough of the foreplay, let’s get down to business!!

        In the coming weeks I will be reviewing the Investment Properties in the various countries that we have available for investment. My choice of country will be backed up by a Review of the Country, the Economic / Political situation, the Growth Prospects / Financial Analysis of any Development in question and a look at what the Future will hold for the Country.

        Among others, the countries that will be reviewed in the coming weeks are:


        Cape Verde



        Grenada, the Caribbean



        South Africa

        Watch this space..............

        Thursday, 26 July 2007

        Giving into FEAR ???!!!

        I have recently read a wonderful book on wealth. The book is called ‘How to get Rich’ by Felix Dennis. Felix is one of Britain’s wealthiest self-made millionaire’s, and estimates his personal fortune between £400m-£900m. With that amount of money, does the exact figure really matter?? !!

        Felix made the majority of his money in the publishing sector (His company is called Dennis Publishing), and owns magazines such as ‘Maxim’, ‘The Week’ and ‘PC Weekly’. The reason why the book is different to other ‘I made myself rich and now I’m going to make myself even richer, when you buy this book’ variety, is Felix’s approach. He starts off by saying ‘That this is not one of those horrible self-help books written by people who have never made money in their lives’. He therefore turns everything on its head regarding the impression the reader had of the book. Different angle, better results !!

        There are many lessons I learnt from ‘How to get Rich’, but the one thing that stood out was this: The reason why so many people aren’t rich, is that they are simply afraid. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of losing their wife / lover / friends. It is this fear that holds us back to become who we should be……....and who we were destined to be. ‘Conquer your Fear, and you will conquer Death’ as Alexander the Great would say.

        The website for our launch is still being worked upon by our Marketing Guru, Wilhelm Kruger. Wilhelm is smoothing out a few ‘discrepancies’ but he assures me that we will be up and running soon.

        I pray that it will be sooner rather than later, as the old adage ‘Goals are Dreams with a Deadline’ is starting to haunt me…………

        Friday, 13 July 2007

        Calm before the Storm......

        There's an old adage that goes a little like this: Failing to plan, is planning to fail. And how this principle has haunted me for these past few weeks......

        Now that we have a new logo, we can start building around the concept of 'What Horizon can do for it's customers'. But before we can even start with this, the infrastructure to deal with prospective clients need to be put in place. This is the fundamental mistake that many businesses make. You may have an amazing product, but if your service to provide that product is flawed, then how will you ever retain customers or provide new customers with the service required? Remember, that it's more expensive to generate new clients than to retain old ones :)

        So the past few weeks we have been speaking to our Marketing Guru, Wilhelm Kruger on how to start out with launching our website. Discussions have been based on the content of the initial front page to the amount of pages needed behind this front page. And not to mention the information needed to populate these pages, in order to provide our clients the information needed. So this is what the initial front page would look like:

        As you can see, our services will be devided into three categories: 1) Property Investment 2) Forex and 3) PAYE returns.

        We have decided on including a 'motto' which I am currently working on and will then add this to the introduction which is found at the top left of the page. And of course, this blog will be mentioned in the bottom left hand corner......(with a somewhat 'cheesy' picture of myself included :)

        Apart from the initial front page launch of Horizon, we have had meetings with our Website Optimization Guru, Colin Schabort. Colin is a Google specialist who assists companies with getting their websites at the top of the Google listings, either through something called a 'sponsored link' or through a 'generic technique' by which Google rates the website in question. We have brought Colin on board, to ensure that Horizon's services will be known when potential clients are in need of our services.

        All in all, the preparation for the launch seems 'too long winded' for me, as all I want to do is to get stuck in and sell our services to clients !! But if I look back to the start of this post........then I remind myself to ensure that the infrastructure of Horizon is set up correctly.......otherwise it will never support the business, when we do eventually start.

        Thursday, 28 June 2007

        A Logo for the Future?

        I've just finished Richard Branson's book, 'Losing my Virginity', (a Book that I would definitely recommend to any Entrepreneur!!) and one of the best things that I thought stood out from the man, is that he is always open to new ideas:

        What makes him so succesful, is his ability to always try new things (even if it means taking the company to the brink of collapse). One of the most interesting facts, was how he came up with the name 'Virgin'. He was running a very successful magazine called 'Student' which was doing very well, but he felt that he wanted to cater more for the student readers in terms of music. Music records were very expensive those days, and if he could find a way of making records a lot cheaper, then he would have a massive market to which he could cater to.

        He therefore decided to start a record label, but he wasn't sure what he wanted to call it. He did consider the name 'Slipped Disc Records', but he felt it lacked substance. Then someone suggested 'Virgin', as we are all 'virgins in business'.........and the rest is history :)

        So, after deliberating with Wilhelm Kruger (Horizon's Marketing Guru) on the logo for Horizon Consultancy, he came up with the following design:

        His reasons for the design are as follows: As the name suggests, you can go with the cliche of stretching the font over a curved 'horizon', but will this set you apart from the rest? Of course not !! So he decided, that although the horizon does signify the earth as a whole, he would make something that is 'out of this world'. Therefore, he chose to go for an 'intergalactic logo'.

        As you can see, the first circle looks like a planet which has a moon in front of it. (hence the chunk that is missing:) But he does complete the picture, by using the missing chunk to complete the second 'o' in the logo :)

        So, to brings things to a close, I think that it is a fantastic design!! Only the future will tell if it will ever compare to a little logo called Virgin............ :)

        Tuesday, 19 June 2007

        Horizon who??

        About 2 weeks ago, I decide to go to a Property Exhibition. Not to BUY anything, but to offer the 'Really Big and Scary International Property Company' if I could 'assist in expanding their already massive database?

        Now you can imagine how nervous I was that they were going to take one look at me......laugh (as is expected) and then throw me out of the exhibition shouting 'We don't need your help as we are one of the biggest Property Companies in Europe already!!!' But......this didn't happen.

        'Good morning Mr Doms, it is very nice to meet you' :) Would you like a coffee?? (starting to sweat now as I wait for the massive security guard who has been called) 'We have many property developments available at the current moment, but maybe you can enlighten us on what you think your clients would be interested in?' At this point in time, I thought that maybe they were going to try and sell me something (obviously not caring about my clients who I was trying to source developments for). But when they discovered that I was 'merely' another agent off the street..........bring on the massive security guard, his dog and..........smack !!! Hello Pavement :(

        To cut the entire episode short, the really friendly guy showed me properties in Germany, Cyrpus, Turkey as well as the UK. As they cover Europe, the US as well as the Caribbean you can imagine how long it would've taken to go through all their stock. I did manage to walk away with a few business cards, and lo and behold......A meeting at their offices !!! (let's see if they actually have offices where they referred me to........said the cynic in me)

        Today, I ACTUALLY went to those 'mythical offices' and spoke to a really nice guy explaining what Developments they currently have available...........(and here's the really seriously awesome part)........I could choose which Developments my clients would be interested in, but I am still able to market them under Horizon !! I could then offer these properties to my clients, and then the other company would take over and take care of the rest :) Was there ever a sweeter deal??? (The reason for this is because MANY other companies would just work on a referral system, where I would refer you and then have NOTHING else to do with you. In this case, I am with you from beginning to end without having to 'pass you along the chain')

        We would obviously split the commission earned, but the client would remain my own........which meant that the client deal ONLY with me........and not some dodgy person they've never had contact with.

        I think the lesson I learnt from this is that although you might as a company be small........there's nothing stopping you from asking. What's the worst that can happen?............(I hear cries of Massive Security guard, his dog and that VERY hard pavement :)

        Sunday, 17 June 2007

        Why be better?

        The Roman Catholic Church describes the '7 Deadly Sins' as the following:

        - Lust
        - Gluttony
        - Greed
        - Sloth
        - Wrath
        - Envy
        - Pride

        But the 20th Century has given birth to a new 'deadly' sin......and this is called 'Apathy'. The word apathy, is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as the follwing: 'noun' - lack of interest or enthusiasm.

        I believe that Apathy should be called the 8th Deadly Sin, as we live in times where the status quo is as follows: 'I don't have to do my best as the next door neighbour didn't amount to anything' or 'I don't need to work hard because my parents look after me' or 'I have all I need and I won't be able to improve my current situation'

        So the question, if we have the means for survival, ie. Food, water, shelter (the basic physiological needs), then Why is it so important for us to continously strive to be better?

        When we aren't going forward, we are essentially moving backward. There is no 'middle station' of standing still. The world is changing / in motion all the time and so must we.......otherwise we stand the chance of being left behind. Of being discarded as an 'out of date' model which cannot compete with the present, and is therefore relegated to the past.