Sunday 19 December 2010

Bridgetown - an "investment"?

I received an email as follows:
A couple of weeks or months ago you wrote a piece on the real estate investment ‘opportunity’ being promoted in Kasane and your reflections on it. I wish I could re-visit the article as I read it in passing and I have someone who wants my advice on the possibility for investing in it. I will be grateful to hear from you.
I assume you mean the Bridgetown "opportunity"?  Frankly I'm very skeptical about it.

Firstly they present it as an investment but this is a time-limited ownership offer.  You only "own" the property you select for 25 years and only for a fixed number of weeks per year.  That strikes me as being a depreciating asset rather than an investment.

For instance if you choose to sell your property after 10 years you will only be selling a 15-year time-share, no longer 25 years.  Nobody is going to pay the original price for something that has a shorter life-span.  This is more like buying a car than a house.

Secondly it's not even finished yet, as far as I'm aware.  All you can see are artists impressions and architects diagrams so far.  What guarantee do you have that it will be up to the standard you desire?

Finally (although my list of questions goes on and on) what guarantees do you have that your share of the property you're purchasing will be available when you want it?  Their terms and conditions include references to "a Floating Week for next 25 Years".  It also includes:
  • "The owner must reserve his or her desired vacation time in advance, with reservation confirmation typically provided on a first-come, first-served basis."
  • "ownership of the resort remains with the developer"
  • "Bookings: should be done at least 60 days in advance or will depend upon vacancy"
Then, in addition to the purchase price are all the additional costs, including:
  • "Annual Levy" (compulsory and not yet obviously disclosed)
  • "Daily Usage Fee" (P150 per night)
  • "Admin Fee" (20% if you sell your week)
  • "Cancellation Fee"
I'm not going to advise anyone to avoid this scheme but I do think people should go into it with their eyes wide open and in full possession of all the facts.

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