Kamis, 09 Juli 2009

Unite to Fight

Written by Mark FR Wilkins
Thursday, 29 January 2009

Please note that the information provided in this article is of a general interest nature and intended as a basic outline only. It is not intended as any substitute for detailed legal or other professional advice specific to the reader’s circumstances. Nothing contained in this article should be seen or taken as the writer or publisher providing legal or financial advice.

ImageYou may only be 1200 to 1500 miles away as the crow fly’s between the UK/Ireland and the South of Spain but when a dispute erupts with your developer you may as well be on Mars! There is an overwhelming feeling of isolation.

You have seen the plot, studied the project, chosen your apartment, signed a Private Purchase Contract (PPC) and, no doubt, paid over a hunk of the purchase price by way of a deposit. All plain sailing – but that was nearly three years ago – or at least it will be in March 2009. In that time you have become one of the worlds other two hundred internet experts on your development.

You have made a number of on-line friends who are in the same boat and have swapped with others, via a number of forums, details including pictures of “your” development in its various states of completion or not.

A few purchasers have combined a holiday to the area with a visit to see the sales agent. They have discovered that the agent closed their office without any notice a year ago – no wonder they stopped replying to your e-mails; your lawyer is now in Brazil or Morocco and the developer has gone into hibernation with their sales deck – or portacabin - now being manned by a solitary - but talkative “Prosegur” security guard - Antonio.

The building seems close to being completed – so Betty from Halesowen was right when she reported in June 2008 that there was water in the pool and the top soil had been delivered.

So why hasn’t the developer called upon us to complete? Why is it so quiet? Has construction stopped? The terrace tiling seems to need completion and the paint applied to the exterior walls could do with another coat – but otherwise it looks ok.

Well, on digging a little deeper you discover that your developer and the builder are in dispute and for the first time you hear a word that will become all too familiar, “embargo”. This is a legal device deployed by a creditor in Spain to turn the screw on the party who owes him money.

The builder, not surprisingly is unwilling to complete construction without payment – hence building has indeed stopped. A little further investigation shows that the plumbers and electricians have also withdrawn their labour for the same reason.

The developer is stuck in the middle of a cash flow crisis. Building costs have risen since he first sold the development off plan. He banked – as he was required to do by the financing bank - all of the purchaser’s deposit monies in support of his mortgage finance to complete the build. Since then the bank has been credit crunched and unwilling to release more.

The first phase of the development is complete – fully licensed but also standing empty. The developer sold all fifty apartments off plan but since being called upon to complete sadly a number of the purchasers who had expected to be able to raise local mortgage finance have now discovered that obtaining funding in Spain has become increasingly difficult. The current criteria being applied are invariably a maximum of 60% to 70% loan to value or purchase price – whichever is the lower. This combined with an institutional objective by the local valuers to down value has resulted in defaults in completion amounting to, say, seventy percent of Phase 1. The result being to starve the developer of much needed cash flow.

Depressed – yes, me too. However, there is a glimmer of hope.

Some banks, who may have financed the development from the start - and who have given off plan purchasers the all important bank guarantees - when faced with the developer who is in default of their repayment obligations are starting to consider a variety of solutions.

Rather than causing the developer to enter into Administrative Receivership and then having to deal with an Administrator with little or no experience of the property market, the financing bank may be willing to compromise with developer by taking the property into their control and writing off the debt to the bank. This means that the bank become an estate agent and is keen to make sales of the unsold units thereby providing a fillip to the “distressed “ priced property market by selling modestly priced stock which is complete or close to completion.

In taking this position the bank will usually be on notice of those PPC’s signed by the off plan purchasers – including those not in default of completion. In establishing this arrangement we believe there exists opportunities for those purchasers.

Firstly, it may be appropriate, in relevant circumstances, to consider calling on the Bank Guarantee. If the facts of your case allow you to demand that the granting bank honours their guarantee to you this may be the most expedient way for you to recover your deposit and stage payments.

One aspect which you should bear in mind is that it is usual that a Bank Guarantees can only be called upon when there has been a failure to deliver your property by an agreed date and not before unless the developer or promoter has entered into bankruptcy or similar before such date.

Let’s be crystal clear - we have seen and heard of a number of situations where the banks have wriggled and sought to delay payment under the guarantees that they have granted. It is essential that all payments that you have made are protected by such guarantee and, more importantly, that the guarantee itself is properly and fully executed and continues to be completely valid. Any failing here may well give the bank the right to swerve their obligations.

Secondly, and this may be seen to be a more commercial solution for those willing and able to complete their off plan purchase - seek to negotiate with the bank on the agreed purchase price as stated in the PPC. With the development in the hands of the bank their aim will be to recover their mortgage debt owed by the developer – as quickly as they can. The price that you agreed to pay will no doubt have been scaled on a basis of the developer making a 20% or 30% profit on the deal. Therefore there may well be some flexibility with the bank to say that the price you would be willing to pay should be 20% to 30% lower than the PPC agreed purchase price. It’s got to be worth a try!

We have already noted that you are at some distance, so how are you going to address these issues and progress them in Spain?

A daunting prospect is the usual emotion but look at what you have. A community of purchasers – some of whom may sadly have dropped out as they simply do not have the means to complete - but others who are keen to preserve their deposits and see their purchase through to completion should gain strength from each other and unify.

A group action has got to be appealing to the bank which is seeking solutions. It is in no way going to be an easy negotiation but by gathering willing players together and approaching the bank in a formal and collegiate manner must exponentially improve the prospects of success. We have seen success from group actions in the past with parties joining together – unity does mean strength - to bring a weight of numbers to a negotiation.

It is essential that the group has a focal individual for the processing and gathering of evidence – copies of PPC’s and Bank Guarantees etc and this will also provide a point of contact for the lawyers appointed to deal and to represent the group’s interests. The other useful side effect of this should mean where all group member’s interests are the same that the professional costs associated with running and progressing such a group action should be proportionately less than those incurred in an action taken by a lone party.

It’s worth stressing that no one can foretell the likely outcome of such actions or the reaction of the relevant bank or developer but we are all faced with the same imperatives and striving for acceptable solutions must be a priority.

Mark FR Wilkins,
The Rights Group
mark@therightsgroup.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
+34 600 343 917

© Mark FR Wilkins (Marbella) 2008

My Move to Melbourne
Written by richtea31
Tuesday, 07 April 2009

ImageI thought I would share my experience of my move from the UK to Melbourne, warts and all, in some detail. So I'm sorry if this goes on a bit but it may nelp someone avoid the pitfalls I went through.

I arrived in Melbourne at the end of November in the hope of gaining employement and starting a new life close to my daughter (she's 5). I had set up some meetings with recruitement agents and potential employers (I'm an ACA Accountant) before I left the UK.

My first experience was that very few employers/recruitement agents have very little time for you until you arrive in Australia. They ask for a resume and then suggest you contact them on arrival (which I did). Many interviews later and I was lucky enough to get a position with one of the Big 4 establishments. I noted that many companies had an attitude of doom and gloom (that the world had collapsed and there was no way back) and although they were polite most interviews were a waste of my time, as they had no vacancies anyway. But you just have to keep plugging away.

This was a massive challenge, as before I had arrived I tried to find a long term temporary rental, but found them all to be too expensive for my budget, or they were already fully booked - in retrospect I should have tried harder because staying at hotels was even more expensive. So my advice to those thinking of moving here is to look really hard for a short term rental and look/book way in advance. There are some good value options available but you do need ensure that you search, search and search some more.

I stayed in hotels as I thought it would give me an incentive to get into a rental as quickly as possible. Here's my thoughts on the places I stayed, with a best to worse list:

Quest on Jollimont
I stayed here a few days just before I moved into a rental property and to be honest I wish I had found it earlier. The apartments were big spacious and very clean and modern, and there were nice park views from my room. There was free underground parking and the staff were really nice. A negative was that there was no pool. However it was worth the money.

Mantra on Jollimont
This was a good functional location with pool, gym and jacuzzi. The rooms were big but in need of modernisation and the staff were a little disinterested. Parking was expensive at $19.50 per night and the restaurant for dinner was poor, but good for breakfast. When I stayed here I was still searching for jobs on the internet and it was a nightmare, it was a dial up connection and it took forever to download a page, and at $6 an hour, I soon gave up and sought an alternative (I'll return to this later). Overall good.

Quest East St Kilda
I liked this one as the apartments were two hotel rooms combined and a TV in each room. The kitchens had everything you needed and they were clean and modern. Staff were really friendly and worked hard to please (it must be a Quest thing ), there was a pool and jucuzzi. Strangely, the restaurant was not open to guests but seemed full every night with the local Jewish fraternity. Which means you have to eat out, buy pizza, or have a car to do a grocery shop (my option). It was also some way from the CBD and required either a drive or a tram trip, which was no big deal. Overall worth a go.

Mercure (Swanston)
This was a large hotel and was packed when I stayed there. The room was small and expensive and it was so noisy, particularly at night (2-6am), but I got used to the constant banging of doors, and the maids wanting to clean you room at 7am (an expletive worked best I found as 'no thank you' was taken as an invitation to empty the bin!!!!! ). However, it's right in the centre of the CBD and everything is on you door step. Overall - Give it a miss.

George Powlett Apartment
Where do I start? OK the good point, it was cheap ($77 a night). However, I had to move rooms because the first room was invested with fleas. My second room had something living in the bed that decided to eat me each night and I would wake up with blood on the sheets and spots all over my shoulders and back. The rooms smelt of stale pee and they changed my sheets once in the 7 nights I stayed there (and that was because I asked). The maid would leave a clean towel each day without removing the old, I soon had a nice collection thrown in one corner. I also had an army of ants that decided the table was great place to visit 24/7 and I would have enjoyed there company if it was not for the fact that the table was broken. Overall - avoid. Saving money is one thing but been eaten by the local insect population is just NOT worth it.

I also checked in the Herald Sun for short term accommodation and found a couple of adverts for 'resort accommodation from only $280 a week', this was at Bell City in Preston. II must admit that it was very nice when I went and had a look around, but the price was actually $450+ per week and the application form required more information and references than the application for a rental, so why bother?

I thought about openning an account when I was in the UK but decided to do it when I arrived. In fact it was an inspired idea, as in the UK you had to provide a mountain of documents to prove you name, address, date of birth and shoe size. Over here I walked into the Commonwelath Bank on Swanston street (next to the Mercure Hotel) and walked out 10 mins later with my bank account sorted. All I needed was my passport, and I used my daughters address to have my cards delivered, but could just as easy used the hotel address and collected my cards from the branch in 5-7 days. It was easy. I'm not going to go into which banks offer the best accounts because I think it is a personal thing. But just to add that both the Commonwealth and WestPac Banks have tried so hard to get me to take out a home loan or mortgage I am pretty confident that when I do decide to buy it will be no trouble at all.

After finding a job this was going to be the next big challenge. However, despite all the remours that there were few rental properties out there I found one pretty quickly. I had decided that I wanted to be close enough to my daughters new school, a train station so i could get into the CBD, and a shopping centre so I could walk and get some groceries. That way I would not have to buy a car that straight away and can save money to buy furniture. After looking around Brighton in bayside I decided the rentals there were overpriced and garbage, so I expanded my search area and found a 3 bed modern unit in Highett. I opted to be cheeky and bartered the price down by $20 a week, and submitted my application. It was approved 24 hours later (in fact all they did was confirm my salary with my employer and my start date). They didn't take up my personal references. I could have moved in then, but my money had not arrived from the UK, so I had to wait a few days to pay the rent and bond. You also have to pay both with a bankers draft/cheque, so you do need a bank account, so my advice is to get your money moved over early.

NOTE: Over here they price rentals on a weekly basis, (say $400 a week), rather than the PCM basis in the UK. Also when it comes to paying the rent, some estate agents use a method (forget the name) where you divide the weekly rent by 7 and multiply by 365 then divide by 12 (so say $400/7 = $57.15 x 365 = $20857.15 / 12 = $1738), Which actually means you paying more than $400 a week, but paying the correct amount over the whole year (I hope that makes sense). So do check before you rent how the monthly rental payments are calculated, and ensure you have enough for the first payment and the Bond (which again is not always 4 weeks rent in advance, sometimes it can be more or less).

However, getting into a rental property was easy and as soon as you have employment get looking.

After my expensive experience at the hotel I went looking for an alternative, and found it at Melbourne Central. There is an internet cafe on the second floor and it is fast speed broadband and pretty cheap at $4 an hour. You can also grab some food/coffee near by. Worth a look.

It's still early days but so far I have started work and everyone is great, and I am really enjoying my new life here.

©richtea31 and britishexpats.com
Last Updated ( Friday, 17 April 2009 )

English Newspaper Hits Streets of Mexico, Pledging Independence

by MexicoReporter | October 18, 2007 at 10:03 am
2761 views | 7 Recommendations | 4 comments


English Newspaper Hits Streets of Mexico, Pledging Independence
English language newspaper The News hit the streets of Mexico City today after a five year hiatus.

Its directors have promised a more independent tone this time around. In its prior incarnation The News kept its head under the parapet, preferring to keep its advertisers and powerful readers happy rather than rocking the boat.

Victor Hugo O’Farrill Ávila, owner and chairman of The News, said in the opening pages of today’s edition that the aim of the newspaper is to be ‘constructive and serious’, as his grandfather said some 60 years ago when launching the original form of the title in 1950.

But John Moody, chief executive of the paper, was much more bullish when he spoke to MexicoReporter.com a couple of weeks ago.

“I think that we’re going to be the only newspaper in Mexico that sells its readers and not paper and ink. I’m at the service of my readers and not my advertisers.”

In a swipe at the current lack of financial and editorial independence within most of Mexico’s mainstream daily and weekly news publications, Moody said that the title intended to report without bias.

“My space is not for sale editorially in any way shape or form and I would venture to say that makes me unique in Mexico.”

How The News handles the powers in Mexican society in its pages will be interesting to watch. Violence against journalists in Mexico is at an all time high, and the Government is reportedly one of the main perpetrators of attacks and intimidation against media works, according to Article 19.

Titles such as Proceso, a weekly news magazine, and the daily newspaper la Jornada suffer financially for their critical tone. The Government – one of the biggest advertisers in the market – withholds ads from such titles and commercial companies are also wary of being seen in newspapers and magazines that criticize the powers that be.

“I’m not giving my editor Tom Buckley an editorial line," says Moody.

"Which means the owners aren’t giving me one. The line I’ve given my editor and will enforce is that everything that is published be of use or of interest to my readers. So we’re not going to avoid themes or favor any political party and I think it’s going to be a mix.

“What I’m trying to create is a professional newspaper with an independent editorial line and I think Mexico is ready for it,” said Moody.

The daily newspaper is aimed at the 1.5 million people in Mexico who speak English. It is the only English-speaking newspaper in the country and enters a sparsely populated market. The only other national English-language title in the country is Inside Mexico, a monthly magazine. Their editorial is lifestyle, travel and literature rather than news.

Moody was buoyant in his expectations for the newspaper, which he claims confidently will be the best in Mexico and ‘the Carlsberg of newspapers.’

The advertising market, usually skeptical about new launches and burnt by the spate of English newspapers which have tried and failed to succeed in Mexico, has responded better than expected according to Moody.

“The average income of my readers is higher than the average income of any other newspaper in Mexico,” he explains.

The first edition however, is rather light on ads, with a spot for a residential club on page 15, a whole page ad for Mexico’s biggest bank Bancomer and a whole page in the sports section for Jeep watches.

The design is neat and modern, and rather resembles the newly designed Guardian in the UK. Big colour photos adorn its pages and original content mixes with news and features from Bloomberg, the Associated Press and the New York Times.

Jumat, 26 Juni 2009

Artikel bahasa inggris

Planning income and expens every month

By: Safir Senduk
From IndoExchange.com
In my previous article, I said that there are several things to help your finance every month :
1. Plan your income and expense every month
2. Do the plan strictly
3. Have reserves fund
4. Take some insurances
This article will discuss point 1 and 2.
1. Plan your income and expense every month
Starting right now, plan when you will get your salary, how much its amount, and when you will spend your money, what the posts and how much the amount of expenses. The plan called Budget.
In example, you will receive this much on your salary on 27th, then from that amount you will use this much for this expense, that amount for that expense, and so on. So, if you make a budget first, you will detect on the first place whether there will be deficit or not in the middle of the month. If yes, you can revise the budget to avoid deficit.
Composing budget is very easy. If you have already known the amount of average income and expense every month, you could also predict how much income and expense for the next coming months.

Budget function
Many people feels uncomfortable to draw up and have budget. They think budget is the same with restrain their shopping desire.
NO. The function of a budget is to inform if your expense surpass your income or not. If yes, you ocan revise the budget so deficit can be avoided.
But, if you do not have budget, you will be difficult to know if your family expense has surpassed the income. So, if there is deficit at the end of the month, you just realize it at that time, after all has happened.

Include saving in your budget. Usually people save their money later, after their money was spent. So, sometimes they cannot save their money because all of their money was spent for shopping.
Thereby, it would be better if saving is not included later but earlier. Therefore, when you draw up a budget, insert saving as one of the posts that you must do earlier, at least after you repay your loan.

2. Do the plan strictly.
A plan is useless if it is not done. In here, plan of income and expense as much as Rp250,000, if you strictly obey and want to do according the budget, at the end of the month the discrepancy between income and expense of your family will be certainly figured out, namely Rp250,000.
Thereby, it would be easier to make another plan froward, because you have already known that every end of the month you surely have discrepancy of Rp250,000, which can be used for another purpose.
However, sometimes people, although have already made up a simple budget, is still unable to meet their budget. If he, i.e. allocated Rp500,000 per month for shopping, the figure could expand to Rp750,000.
This can be prevented with a harder system, namely 'envelope system'. If you have already drawn up a budget, you should allocate the amount right away according to each post. Each post is represented by one envelope. If the money in the envelope is empty, you don't have to try opening the other envelopes, because you have already known that budget for the related post has touched its limit. Envelope system is a little complicated, but perhaps it is the sacrifice that you should doso that you will not experience deficit. The most important, your expense now is more controllable.