property valuations

Pump some Biofuel into your Portfolio for Peak Performance

As successful investors will know the secret to a robust portfolio is diversification, strategically spreading risk between stocks, shares, traditional investments and increasingly, alternative investments. Interest in biofuels as an alternative investment has grown in recent years as Sydney property valuation and savvy investors move to capitalise on the serious situation we face, namely that we are currently using more crude oil that we are finding it and so new sources of renewable energy must be found.

And that clean, renewable energy can in fact be found growing on trees. Demand for biofuel (fuel derived from biomass) has never been greater with projections of a 20% annual increase through 2011 according to the Earth Times. World governments are injecting large sums of money and resources into the development of biofuels or ‘green oil’ in an attempt to reduce dependency on crude oil. Leading energy suppliers Shell are going one step further, strategically moving away from other forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar to biofuels as they are more financially viable.

As Steven Worboys, MD of the alternative investment experts at Experience International, comments,

“Biofuels hold many environmental advantages over fossil fuels which are negatively contributing to many issues facing the planet. Biofuels produce fewer carbon emissions than fossil fuels, are a renewable and sustainable alternative, make use of ‘waste’ materials such as corn stalks, they are less toxic due to their biodegradable matter and the production and extraction is less hazardous and invasive than fossil fuels.”

The commercial use of biofuel has been in operation since 2008 where 1.8% of the world’s transport fuel was from this source (UN Environmental Programme “Assessing Biofuels, 2009). Virgin Atlantic has already embraced the ‘green oil’ and airlines KLM and Lufthansa aim to offer biofuel flights from 2011. Many of the world’s largest economies in South East Asia, South America and Africa have biofuel sites in operation with jatropha being the crop of choice.

Cited as one of the best candidates for future biofuel production by Goldman Sachs and touted as a ‘miracle biofuel’, jatropha is a bushy shrub, resistant to drought and pests which grows on marginal land not suitable for food production. The jatropha seed contains up to 40% non-edible vegetable oil which can be used as a biofuel. India is reported to have set aside 100 million acres of land for jatropha and expect the oil produced to account for 20% of its diesel consumption by 2011.

Worboys goes on to comment,

“Such strong commitment should bolster investor confidence in Green Oil Programmes. Through these sound business models, investors can own in effect an ‘oil property’, an area of land with biofuel producing plants producing oil yearly, in turn providing annual revenues of potentially 20% over a 45 year lease term as well as an increasing capital asset value. Investment in these Green Oil Programmes, which are SIPP compliant, starts from as little as £15,000 and offer investors an innovative way to include an alternative investment in their portfolio as well as building long term income.”

For more information on ensuring your portfolio is at peak performance by investing in biofuels then contact the experts at Experience International on + 44 (0) 207 321 5858 or visit

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property valuations

Why I’m tempted by Turkey

A huge land of stunning coastlines, rich ancient culture and vibrant traditions, Turkey is a fast-changing nation that still offers bags of potential.

On the far Eastern fringes of Europe – and one day no doubt, Melbourne property valuers – a member of the EU – this nation is a fascinating fusion of East and West, alien enough to be slightly exotic, yet familiar enough to be accessible.

A 4-hour flight away from the UK, with a higher volume of direct flights than five years ago, it offers a fantastic climate and a rapidly expanding tourism sector.

Tour operators report that many British travellers have preferred it to the overpriced Eurozone, making it our popular package destination, whilst Turkish figures show that tourists increased by 11% during recent months.

What’s more, overseas mortgage providers are saying the same thing: Turkey has been one of our biggest markets in 2010.

It’s easy to see why. Vast swathes of the south-west coastline still offer highly affordable property in relatively unspoilt resorts close to superb beaches and natural beauty spots. Converts also point to the cheap cost of living, hospitable locals and authentic villages.

Whilst property prices have risen steadily during the last decade, it still offers great value when compared with other pieces of the Mediterranean coast and stricter planning laws have generally prevented over-building.

Capital appreciation has been especially healthy in British favourites such as Bodrum, Altinkum and Kusadasi but where you choose really depends on what you are after; Turkey really offers something for everyone.

For those after a well-established holiday resort, Kusadasi is a good choice with family-friendly amenities close to hand. Only an hour from the nearest airport, it’s not surprising that holiday rentals are booming there.

Bodrum is another well-oiled holiday hotspot, but a little more exclusive these days, with prices to reflect that. But, again, there’s a complete spectrum of property options within the one peninsula.

If you seek somewhere a bit smaller and low-key, Didim is a good choice, and its beach area (known as Altinkum) has been a big hit with British buyers in the last five years.

Or, for those seeking somewhere more relaxed and a bit greener, up-and-coming Akbuk has much to offer with its picturesque bay and small ex-pat community.

In coastal areas just beware of any issues relating to land-zoning and title deeds (or TAPU) – do your homework and ask around before taking the plunge.

Finally, for serious investors, there’s one place that’s hard to beat: Istanbul.

Whilst a beguiling city-break destination in its own right, Turkey’s second city, is a rapidly expanding business and residential hub ideally placed between Europe and Asia.

A severe shortage of accommodation to cater for the city’s burgeoning population – it has expanded by 340,000 in just 2 years – means a hugely profitable domestic rentals market is attracting overseas buyers.

Foreign companies are relocating there, top retail brands too, plus a new marina’s just been announced in the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

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property valuations

Best Bet Brazil

Brazil is a vast resource-rich emerging nation. Since Lula da Silva became president in 2003, the country has made unprecedented social and economic strides. Not only was Brazil little affected by the subprime crises that almost sank the west’s financial system, poverty has been reduced dramatically. Moreover, economic growth is forecast to reach 7.1% this year.

Of the four BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) identified by Goldman Sachs in 2001 to become global economic powerhouses, Brazil exceeded all expectations last year to be ranked top for sustainable economic growth in the GS Sustainable Economic Score index.

Massive government investment has been allocated to infrastructure improvements including the north east where, for example, a colossal new airport purported to be South America’s largest is under construction in the state of Rio Grande do Norte near Natal.

Brazil’s north east has always been a popular domestic tourist destination. Though less known for international tourism, the area is increasing in popularity and set to grow further for a number of reasons, not least of which is that Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. These events will inevitably boost international tourism and energise Brazil’s fledgling international property market.

Foreigners have bought property across the nine states of the north east, but some of the strongest interest at present is found in the three states of Rio Grande do Norte, Pariaba and Ceará, especially along the Atlantic coast – hurricane and earthquake free with unending palm-fringed crystalline beaches and 300+ days of sunshine a year.

The state of Rio Grande do Norte, after Antarctica, has one of the cleanest atmospheres on earth. Its capital Natal, named as a host city for the World Cup and with a population of around 200,000, is known as one of Brazil’s safest cities. At the foot of Natal’s spectacular Ponta Negra bluff is a charming cluster of shops, bars and restaurants overlooking an expansive beach. In the northerly environs of the city is an exclusive new spa development, Natal Ocean Club Spa Residence.

A 90km drive south is the picture postcard town of Pipa with its heavenly beaches. Further down the coast in the state of Paraiba near its 700,000 strong capital city of Joâo Pessoa, is the 150-hectare eco-friendly resort development of Tambaba, adjacent to a protected rainforest.

The bustling Ceará coastal capital Fortaleza with a skyline of high rise buildings has a population of over 2m and 3km of sparkling urban beaches. A popular domestic tourist destination, the Brisbane property valuation city’s urbanisation has been fuelled by an influx of Brazilians re-locating from the major cities of the south. That Fortaleza will be a 2014 World Cup host city and is a six hour flight from Lisbon makes it particularly attractive for property investment.

North east Brazil properties are relatively affordable compared, say, to their Caribbean counterparts. Capital appreciation is set to strengthen. But with any emerging market, painstaking research along with good independent financial, tax and legal advice is paramount. That some past European developments have stalled or failed completely is in part the result of over ambition and lack of due diligence.

Lula’s departure from office at the end of the year is not expected to have a major impact on the country. The two top contenders for president are José Serra, governor of Sao Paolo State and Dilma Rousseff, the government’s chief minister. Although Lula has endorsed the latter, reassuringly many observers expect continuity next January no matter who takes office.

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El Gouna shines as Egyptian holiday hotspot

The Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada remained popular but according to leading holiday rental site, HomeAway Holiday-Rentals, it is the area just north of Hurghada, El Gouna, which is shining as the Egyptian holiday hotspot with a 92% rise in booking enquiries so far in 2010 compared to the same period in 2009.

Steven Worboys, MD of Egypt property experts, Experience International, remarks,

“El Gouna is a beautiful, up and coming resort on the Red Sea coast offering an unrivalled lifestyle. With 10km of golden sandy beaches, islands, crystal clear lagoons and a warm year round climate, it really is the perfect holiday destination.”

El Gouna’s popularity as an exclusive tourism destination is reflected in the high demand for rental accommodation. According to HomeAway Holiday-Rentals data, the average weekly rate for a 2 bedroom property in El Gouna is £480, considerably higher than nearby Hurghada at £270 and Sharm el Sheikh at £280, which should excite property owners.

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New flights to Dordogne make it simple to enjoy a grape escape

The twice weekly flights will operate from 21st May to 24th September 2011 from Jet2’s Manchester base with tickets starting from €39.99 (one way including taxes). The new Brive Dordogne Valley airport has only just opened this summer but already demand is high due to its prime location in the heart of the popular Dordogne.

Steven Worboys, MD of the French leaseback property experts at Experience International, comments,

“Dordogne is one of the most beautiful departments of France, with enchanting rolling hills dotted with charming châteaux, a rich heritage and wealth of gastronomic delights. Over 2.9 million people visit the Dordogne each year making it the most popular place within the Aquitaine region and with the new 2011 summer flights Britons will have no excuse not to discover this hidden gem.“

And now is the perfect time to visit the Dordogne valley, home to some of the finest Merlot, Cabernet Franc and sweet Monbazallic wines in the world, as the autumn grape harvests have begun. Medieval villages such as St Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just over 90 minutes from Brive airport, are renowned for their harvest festivities complete with parties, shows and of course wine tasting sessions in the local cellars and estates.

The heady combination of natural beauty and fine gastronomy has made the Dordogne not only a highly popular tourism destination but also a more permanent base for many British second property owners. Over 20,000 Brits own homes within the department with the Dordogne accounting for 15% of all enquiries according to Athena Mortgages, a figure which has remained stable over the past 3 years.

As Steve Worboys goes on to comment,

“Property within the Dordogne is very reasonably priced with new developments, especially leasebacks, selling quickly. Well located properties can be purchased off-plan, with up to 100% finance and still guarantee index-linked returns of up to 4.3% for 18 years.”

One such development newly released to the market is Domaine de Rochevigne, 1 and 2 bedroom 4* apartments located only a stone’s throw from Gurson Lake and minutes from St Emilion. Easily accessible in under 90 minutes from Brive airport and 15 minutes from Bergerac airport, the residences are delivered fully furnished with built-in kitchens, flat screen TVs, terraces and garden areas.

This eco-friendly development also affords superb wellness facilities on-site including a heated swimming pool, spa, Turkish bath, sauna and solarium as well as a wide range of leisure activities from horse riding to tennis and fishing in the surrounding countryside.

Fully managed by one of France’s most reputable developers and management companies, Domaine de Rochevigne offers up to 4.3% guaranteed returns as well as generous personal usage options. Prices start from €117,652, the VAT is refunded and up to 100% finance is available.

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Why Are French Leasebacks Such A Safe Investment?

By Marc da Silva, freelance property journalist and editor of

Investing in homes overseas can be a great way to accumulate wealth. But before parting with your cash, an investment strategy needs to be developed. Where should you invest your money? What risks are you willing to take?

Many emerging property destinations, which were so popular during the height of the global property boom, have now fallen out of favour with most property investors, due to the high-risk, high-return, boom-bust nature of investing in these new markets.

A lot of investors have now returned to investing in safer property markets, where the economic fundamentals remain strong and the risks are far lower.

Take France for example. The recent global credit crunch had much less of an impact on the country’s economy, ensuring that it was the first European nation to come out of recession last year.

France’s robust economy has benefited the French property market, with home prices and mortgage transactions having improved across many parts of the country since mid-2009. France has traditionally always been a rather safe haven for property investors as it is less prone to dramatic price falls and has historically offered good long-term returns, thanks largely to the country’s prudent attitude to mortgage lending.

Mortgage borrowers in France are generally only allowed to borrow one-third of their total gross monthly income. This has ensured that mortgages remain readily available, with high loan-to-value home loans obtainable at competitive borrowing rates.

The French buy-to-let market, particularly the leaseback property sector, is reportedly attracting particular interest from global investors, due to the low-risk, hands-off, nature of this long-term French property investment vehicle.

France Leaseback Properties

The French sale-and-leaseback (propriete allege) system was introduced by the French government back in the 1980’s to increase the number of holiday homes available in the country.

This investment vehicle presents people with an opportunity to buy a home and then lease it back to a management company, often for a typical term of 9 to 11 years (extendable up to 18 years) in return for a guaranteed annual rental income of 3 to 6%.

During the leaseback period, the management company is responsible for letting the property, furnishing, maintenance and paying all bills. Meanwhile, homeowners get to benefit from a guaranteed rental income and potential capital growth throughout the duration of the leaseback agreement.

There is also the added incentive that most leaseback properties in France qualify for a 19.6% VAT rebate from the French government.

Pension Scheme

Homeowners are usually permitted to enjoy a few weeks personal use of their home each year.

However, any investor who never intends to personally use their leaseback property may find that their investment qualifies to be placed into a UK Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP).

This is because the leaseback property is classified as a commercial investment, as long as the owner does not make any personal use of it. But this model is only likely to appeal to investors with at least £150,000 in their pension or those with a high net income.

A Stable Investment

The prospect of a guaranteed rental income, good long-term capital growth, VAT exemption and an established mature market, offers little doubt that French leaseback properties look a safe bet for investors.

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Brazil’s Star Just Keeps on Shining with 71% Increase in Booking Enquiries Reported

Brazil’s star just keeps on shining with 71% increase in booking enquiries reported

Brazil’s status as one of the hottest emerging markets in the world today remains high with a 71% increase in booking enquiries reported by leading holiday rental site,

Over the past year, whilst many nations have suffered in the economic downturn and fallen by the wayside, Brazil has gone from strength to strength with reporting a significant increase in both the supply of and demand for accommodation with a 33% increase in property listings (nearly double the site average) and 71% increase in booking enquiries during Q2 2010.

Steven Worboys, MD of Brazil property experts, Experience International, comments,

“We at Experience International have also seen a marked increase this year in the number of people, both British and international investors, looking to purchase in Brazil. Over 1 in 10 enquiries are for Brazil, more specifically the north east. There are many more opportunities coming to market now however it is essential that buyers select the right property investment, those with the correct licenses, title deeds and planning permissions in place.”

Confidence in the Brazilian leisure and real estate market has grown in line with positive economic performance. As Vince Cable, UK Secretary of State for Business remarked on a recent visit to Brazil, “The centre of gravity of the world economy is moving, and Brazil is at the heart of that.” The latest IMF World Economic Outlook report forecasts GDP growth of 7.5% for 2010, more optimistic than Brazil’s Central Bank at 7.3% but considerably higher than the global average of 4.8%.

The real estate industry is one sector experiencing noteworthy growth; worth $17 billion in 2004, it is now estimated to be worth $34 billion today according to the Brazilian Chamber of Construction Industry (CBIC). Fuelling this growth is both the massive demand from the domestic sector for affordable housing, current estimates state a 8 million unit shortfall, and the rising numbers of international tourists visiting Brazil and requiring quality accommodation.

At present there are very few global hotel brands within Brazil and none within the designated World Cup 2014 cities such as Natal and Fortaleza. As indicated from the data, demand is already present and with tourism rising steadily (7 million visitors expected in 2010 rising to 9 million by 2014) there is huge opportunity for real estate investment.

Purchasing land for development has become an attractive investment option as it allows buyers to enter the market at a lucrative, early stage for maximum returns. Once such opportunity is the Tambaba Country Club Resort located near the historic city of Joao Pessoa in the north eastern state of Paraiba.

Covering some 150 hectares of prime tropical paradise, the Tambaba Resort is based on the highly successful European Centre Parcs concept with a wealth of on-site amenities including aquatic water park, restaurants, sports facilities, nature trails, craft centres and even a cachaca production area!

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Why Detroit Property Is a Good Investment Right Now

So let’s look at why property in Detroit is an interesting investment today.

Detroit is ranked the 30th Richest City in the world and is forecast to grow in light of the USA Government’s commitment to a new high-speed rail service between Chicago and Detroit.

The car industry in Detroit is now again and, with General Motors recently introducing an extra 2,000 jobs in the city, the rental demand has quickly increased.

As mentioned the price of homes is around 65% below 2006 prices so you can now acquire a brick built detached house for only £20,606* ($34,000) or a larger brick built 3 & 4 bed detached houses for just £24,848*. Taking into consideration that the normal rental yield for these kinds of homes in a good neighbourhood is around £600 ($1000) a month. So you can figure out the good rental yields of as high as 25% per annum.

Some firms like Experience International offer pre-tenanted houses that generate rental income from the first month you own the property. They take care of the whole process offering investors a totally hands off hassle free investment.

The homes are US Department of Housing approved and the rental yield is secure with rental payments backed by the US gov (Section 8). The houses are all Freehold with clean, clear & debt free titles and also come with an optional 5 year home warranty.

Due to the current situation of the USA real estate market, the improvements in employment opportunities and the other points highlighted above you can see that houses in Detroit offer attractive rental yields, with great capital growth potential in the medium to longer term and are therefore still a very good investment right now.

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New 70%+ Below Market Value Investment Opportunities

Be the “buyer who benefits”

With billionaire real estate investor Warren Buffett proclaiming recently that “within a year or so, residential housing problems [in the US] should largely be behind us”, investor confidence in the US and more specifically the perennially popular Floridian real estate market has returned.

Despite the outlook for the US economy being more positive in 2010, recovery is not expected overnight and there still remains substantial Below Market Value housing stock available. In the Sunshine State of Florida in particular up to 72% discounts are available from most recent selling prices.

Steven Worboys, MD of international real estate experts, Experience International comments,

“From our extensive research we believe that Below Market Value property in Florida remains one of the most attractive investment opportunities available today. Working in partnership with Florida’s most trusted and experienced real estate experts we have sourced a selection of premium properties in highly sought after locations at up to 72% below recent selling prices.”

To view the latest Below Market Value opportunities in Florida please contact Experience International on + 44 (0) 207 321 5858 or visit

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UK Exclusive | Invest in the world leader in solar energy

For the first time in the UK, Experience International clients can invest in the “world leader in solar energy” (as featured on the BBC) with 20 years minimum guaranteed income and net income of €21,501 in Year 1

Thomas Edison – inventor of the electric light bulb said:

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

We haven’t reached this critical point yet but how long will it be?

Sourcing green, renewable and efficient energy is the great political and environmental challenge of the 21st century. Solar energy has come of age since the German government and European Union set aggressive targets to raise the use of renewable sources to 20% of total consumption requirements by the year 2010.

“Germany is the world leader in solar energy: building power stations across the country, developing the technology and manufacturing solar panels.”

BBC Radio 4, 2008

Solar energy can be used to make electricity through a process called photovoltaic (PV) which uses solar cells or solar photovoltaic modules to convert sunlight into electricity. The manufacture of photovoltaic cells has expanded dramatically in recent years, increasing by an average of 48% each year since 2002, making it the world’s fastest-growing energy technology with every increasing efficient levels.

“Analysts estimate the country [Germany] accounts for at least 50 percent of the worldwide photovoltaic market”

Reuters, 2010

To ensure that Utility companies will remain profitable, the German Government have made it law that all utility companies will be able to buy electricity produced by solar systems at a price fixed for 20 years – a “feed-in tariff”. However this tariff is being cut by 16% on 1st June 2010 – making investment in this green energy before that date extremely attractive.

Highlights of this alternative energy investment if commitment is made before 1st June:

20 years guaranteed income backed by the German Government
Only €50,000 minimum investment*
Net income in year 1 of €21,501
Return on investment is 17% net in years 1-20
Investment paid back within 6 years on net income alone
Panel have a +35 years lifespan
Through your investment, PV solar panels will be purchased and installed on rooftops in key strategic locations selected to maximise sun hours and hence electricity production.

For more information please contact experience International on 0207 321 5858 or visit

*Тhe minimum investment is 50,000 Euros; with 90% finance this brings the minimum project size to 500,000 Euros. German Banks are offering 90% non-recourse financing to non-German individuals who set up a German company (Gmbh).

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