A Spruiker’s deal

I got caught out a few days ago. There was something about the spruikers deal and me with my European education thought it was some kind of a Dutch deal. Now I am learning it is nothing of the sort and the entire spruikers issue is a real and a very dangerous one.

It seems there are two methods (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-24/wa-lead-charge-on-property-spruikers/5280420), one is the rent-to-buy the other is the Vendor finance with a delayed settlement. To be honest, I do not see the initial deal with the objection to this. Consider that I end up being renter to buy, with basically the rent becoming the mortgage. What is wrong about that?

That part is seen when we look at the following two quotes: “Some of them are doing very legal things and they’re giving advice and they’re qualified to do so, but then there are those who promise things to those who look for hope, who have perhaps not been able to afford their own home in the past or not been able to enter the market of investment” and “They’re the type of people we target as collectively, ministers for consumer affairs, to make sure that the advice that’s being given is both legal and ethical“. So basically, the entire spruikers deal is about hunting down the unethical exploiters and the damage that they cause.

When looking into these losses, I learned that this is not a new issue. The Spruikers deal and negative gearing has been around for some time and the news has been mentioning issues of exploitation going back to far beyond 2011. This is not a new deal, so why does this remain an issue?

In my mind, the world (Australia too) is filled with idiots who think that there is a quick deal, that makes you rich. The old saying ‘if you buy a diamond for a dime, you end up owning a diamond not worth a dime‘ is the most fitting expression that applies here. Some sales people rely on greed the others on desperation. The big thing is that some are actually on the up and up and as such, this is why the entire spruikers deal stays around for so long.

I see that at times desperation is at the centre of it all. The Age had an interesting quote on April 18th 2013 “ASIC reviewed 100 investor files relating to the establishment of an SMSF. The files were not selected randomly. Most of the DIY funds had a fund balance of less than $150,000. Industry professionals often cite $300,000 as being the minimum needed to make the costs of running a DIY fund worthwhile“. Here is a truth we can work with. A group of people with an insufficient super to make it through retirement is getting targeted to invest in what should be seen as way too risky, especially when the investment would likely deplete your investment to ZERO. This is at the centre of it and this should give a clear signal to the UK that what has been happening in Australia could easily happen in the UK (and is already happening to some extent). Consider the housing boom that the UK is now having (because of regulatory investment options), how long until less scrupulous real estate agents start playing that card? Our collective retirement options are not that great; keeping the retirement options safe for these people should be on the minds of watchdogs in both the UK and Australia.

Yet, I am still smitten with the rent-to-buy option in both the UK and Australia. For the governments to invest in those places allowing people the rent-to-buy option will have two distinct bonuses. One, people will take increasingly care of these places, giving a better long term value to areas that are now often ‘written off’. In addition, the entire community will get an increased economic boost as rent is no longer a down the drain issue, but the start of a future. I see this as a possibility in some places where at present a non-future is regarded to be the norm.

Should the government get involved?

This is a valid question and even though there is validity in both answer options, my answer to this is ‘Yes!‘. In my view, in Australia (and to some extent in the UK as well), the government has remained massively absent when it comes to the creation of affordable housing. The issue of less than 1% rental availability in Sydney alone for well over a decade is clear evidence of that. NSW housing is dealing with a backlog of well over a decade. This is evidence of a faltering system. A government rent-to-buy option could make a change, but it is important to act firmly with some caution, to avoid some quick scheme that will backfire on both the tenant owner and the government in equal measure.

Yes, I think we can all agree that these options are not meant for villages like London and Sydney, but there are plenty of places where it could make a real difference, lowering rental tensions all over the nation(s). Another view of the dangers of spruikers can be seen in the Sydney Morning Herald, an article that was published in August 2013 (at http://www.smh.com.au/business/property-spruikers-scent-big-opportunity-in-super-20130830-2swcq.html).

It clearly shows the issues about all the good and none of the risks being disclosed and it also mentions the real life dangers (read risks) that these investors face making it all a high risk endeavour. In that article another link (as statement) is added “Large funds trying to bridge gap with flexible investment options“. So are spruikers the undefined link between funds (trying again to get high risk yields by dumping the consequence on unsuspecting consumers) and flexible and quick dumped options, leaving the trustee (you, the investor) with a bag of smelly poo no one wants? That is the question that should be raised as well.

This is at the centre of the Spruikers deal and as long as some people are desperate to assure themselves of a decent retirement, spruikers will remain a danger. It is at the end of the Sydney Morning Herald article where we see the jewel we need to keep in our hearts. It was stated by Pauline Vamos, chief executive of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia. She says “anybody giving advice – even if they say they are only providing ‘information‘ – about any investment into an SMSF should be licensed. That would start to ‘turn the tide‘ against property spruikers, she says. ‘It would help fill consumer protection gaps.’

In my view she is entirely correct. Yet, at this point, the government should intervene to another extent. Whether it is in the way South Australia did a few years ago by handing $1 (or at least a really low amount) leases of land to new builders, or to get the rent-to-buy going in other directions, rental properties are not here and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for a long time to come. Only when those issues are dealt with, new progress can be made and these spruikers are likely to seek other shores for a quick profit.



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One response to “A Spruiker’s deal

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