Pumping and Dumping schemes

Faced with the prospect of little price growth on the horizon, property investors are starting to see innovative get rich quick schemes being promoted which offer huge returns.

It has always been true that if the property market can’t generate a return for investors from market driven growth, then investors can make some growth themselves. We have traditionally done this by improving the value of our investments through cosmetic or structural renovation or even developments.

The issue is that the buy and hold costs for such projects can deter most new investors, and there’s always the threat that if prices fall, they may cancel out the value we have added, or even lead to a loss.

But some new investment alternatives have recently emerged, bringing us glitzy promises of high returns from property investment without the need to outlay any significant cash up front. The risk seems low, the opportunity to participate is high and many of us are sucked in, usually at free so called “investment” seminars.

One clever land banking scheme offers you an easy way to get into the property market with one low upfront cost and the promise of eventual riches. The promoter sells you an option to buy land which is slated for future development, showing you the concept plan and glossy “artist’s impressions” of the finished project. All it takes is one affordable fee and no repayments. Then years later, when the land is subdivided, you can exercise your option and sell at a huge profit.

You can even participate in the property market without any upfront cost at all, by searching for and finding property owners who are willing to enter into an options agreement with your mentor. Your mentor signs and pays for the agreement, which gives them the option of buying the property at an agreed price and future time from the current owner. Then by agreement with your mentor, you will be handed a percentage of the profit.

There are also adverse possession schemes using what is known as “squatters rights” where you search for and find long vacant or abandoned properties for your mentor who then improves and rents them out, taking title to the property when the legal waiting period has expired. By agreement with your mentor, you will then split the profit from the sale of the property.  

These sorts of schemes pump you full of confidence and then dump you when they fail. For example, if the land banking property is never developed, or the option for a property you have found is never exercised by your mentor, you receive nothing. Similarly, if the owner of a property which is in the process of adverse possession suddenly turns up before your mentor can legally claim title, you end up with nothing.

You can avoid getting pumped and then dumped by sticking to tested and proven property investment strategies which offer worthwhile rewards and incur risks which are manageable.