Tuesday 2012-11-20

Monday 2012-11-19

At the local value investors club over the weekend, one of the members pitched a German Architecture Conservation scheme: a property developer is offering 12% return in a year, guaranteed by the German Goverment, to re-fit old German "Conservation" buildings and then sell them on the open market, where the guarantee covers 100% of the building's purchase price.

I asked why pay 12% for a short term loan, when a developer in good standing could just get a cheep bank loan? They said something about this kind of financing being much faster than a bank. Which makes a lot of sense, it's totally way faster to print up nice documentation and get some investment flogging firm halfway around the world to push this, than it is to just work with the banker you've known for the last decade.

What's probably really happening is:

You put in your investment:

The developer goes to the bank and says, look, I have more than enough for the deposit, and gets a loan:

Developer buys the building:

Leaving some cash left over, which only coincidentally 100% of which gets spent during construction:

Leaving 0 money left over.

Say the developer sells the building or apartments; everything's fine, everyone gets paid. Say, the developer is unable to sell the building; what happens?

Since we have 0 cash, all that's left is the building, for which the gov't will pay us:

But we owe the bank money:

So we get back:

But we put in:

We have a loss. We are the Unhappy.

All in all, it's a pretty slick scheme for the developer. The biggest problem for a developer is minimizing down-side risk, i.e. how to not lose the empire they just built. With this, someone else is taking all the equity risk, while the developer lines his pockets.

I'd expect the developer to use their cash to cherry-pick the best properties, so let's just say this one's a money-maker.