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Is there a place for Blue Chips?

Friday, February 15th 2008, 9:42PM 3 Comments

by Philip Macalister

A question I have been pondering is whether schemes like what Blue Chip offered investors have a place in the market.

No doubt many of you will say no way. They are just big rip off schemes where the promoters clip the ticket the whole way through.

However, I suspect there is a place for them, as long as they are well-run. But there’s the rub. How do you tell if it is well run? And what are the rules around these things?

On the latter it would seem there are very few rules; certainly less than around other sorts of investments offered to the public. That in itself is a concern and something the government should be looking at in terms of its current reform of the financial adviser market.

With regards to the former question the answer isn’t particularly clear right now, other than to say the Blue Chip clearly wasn’t well run. I would be interested in your thoughts on this. (Email me here).

Stepping back a little it appears that there are some similarities between Blue Chip and finance companies which have failed.

One of the issues with finance companies is that in many cases businesses relied on new money coming in to help fund investments when they matured. When the inflow dries up a cashflow issue develops.

It seems with Blue Chip there may have been a similar situation.

Secondly we have seen “contagion” in the finance company sector where bad news with one company impacts on investor confidence in the sector and other companies. Blue Chip maybe to this sector what Bridgecorp was to finance companies?
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Comments from our readers

On 20 February 2008 at 6:16 pm Calum said:
While the equation "PROPERTY + GUARANTEED INCOME = GOOD INVESTMENT" sounds attractive, the reality (as we've seen) is somewhat different. Friends showed me their investment offer from a Blue Chip company and the highly inflated valuation (both capital and rental income) was immediately obvious. The inflated price was, presumably, used to cover gaps between real rental and promised rental during the initial 3 year period, at which time my friends would be faced with a shortfall on future mortgage repayments.

Sadly, new property investors and financial institutions have been conned by these valuations. I'm disappointed that our investigated journalists have not probed the valuation business.

From an investors perspective the whole Blue Chip scheme - borrowings, capital outlay, rental income - is based on property valuations. When these have been grossly overinflated then, like a house of cards, the whole scheme collapses.

Who are the companies providing property valuations? What professional standards must they adhere to? How do we weed out the con artists from the honest valuers?
On 10 March 2008 at 4:58 pm Hamish said:
I guess the main lesson here is that a system where the valuer, lawyer and accountant is provided under the same roof as those who gain from your investment decision is flawed from the beginning.

It is not only the valuer who is the con man here, I think for too long we have become very complacent about the value of advise we expect from our accountants and lawyers. I know there are some very good ones around, but many deal with clients investment decision as simple transactions. They are not always at fault as we seem to know it all and only approach the professionals to sign things off as well.

As a mortgage broker I find clients frequently who have received little to no actual advise about investment decision advice and on how to structure them. I wonder why I end up pointing out tips which save clients a lot of hassle and money, while their own $300 per hour lawyer meets with them to simply sign the areas marked with a cross.
On 10 July 2009 at 4:45 pm Rod Philson said:
There are some very reputable companies selling packaged property however, it is a real shame that companies like Blue Chip and Merlot spoilt a market that has a place assisting the average Mum & Dad investor, who are trying to better their lot in life,by investing in bricks and mortar.

There are many ways to invest for your retirement however some are better than others.

If you put your money in a bank term deposit at todays rates you are simply going to go broke safely.

If you invest in the sharemarket without exceptional advice you can loose your shirt overnight. If you approach a finacial advisor they now have to declare that they receive a commission for placing your investment funds in their favoured arena, and we all know why that has come about.

If you buy into a traditional superannuation scheme the commissions paid to the salesperson will kill your fund for years to come.

What is important is the return of your money, not the return on your money.

Ask any bank what percentage of the true value they will lend on a share portfolio, a Life Insurance Policy, or a free standing house on its own section, and the risk factors will become apparent. The house will be the favoured security by a country mile.

This factor alone should spell out the fact that the risk involved in purchasing a new brick and tile home, built by a reputable builer, on its own freehold site, with good legal, accounting, valuation, and taxation advice, from arms length, nz registered practioners, even if they are recommended by the seller, is still the best buy anyone can make to create future wealth for retirement.

If one was to ask a hundred people 50+ yrs old what investment that they had made during their lifetime, that had given them the best growth on their money, and which had managed to return their original investment intact the majority would say their own homes.

In the above example the return was created from after tax dollars i.e. the mortgage was paid from their salaries or wages. To be able to duplicate that investment and have the tenant and the tax man pay for the bulk of the annual holding costs - Bank Interest, Rates and Insurance and Property Management - with pre tax income makes very sound sense.

I work for a company which provides this service to its clients. It was trading long before Blue Chip / Merlot came along and is still trading now. It has provided its clients with a safe and rather envious nest egg for retirement. All client deposits are held in Solicitors Trust accounts until they can be secured over the vacant land in the clients name. It never offers guaranteed rentals to make its product more saleable,and always processes rent received from properties it manages for its clients through an audited trust account. It currently manages over 250 homes for its clients all of whom are investors rather than landlords.

The companies name is Residential Property Investments Ltd a member of The Rolston Group of Companies based in Manukau City 09 2717302

To Calum I say - Talk to your local bank manager and ask him to advise which valuers the bank prefers to receive valuations from.If the bank recomends them they will surely be conservative.

To Hamish I say - I tend to agree with you if all parties are not arms length - however when a group of professionals is recognised as being the best in their fields and are brought together for the betterment of the client I disagree with your statement. If you are looking for a reputable company to refer your clients to when purchasing a residential investment property I welcome your enquiry and will happily sit down and discuss your needs with you.
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