Alternative options for buying property

Having a real estate investment is often an excellent decision for any investor, but many don’t have the ability to own a complete house or apartment. They may not have enough capital to buy the property outright, fund a deposit or receive enough income to be able to afford a loan.

For crew, it also can be difficult to get a mortgage due to the offshore nature of their income, though it is possible in some countries. So what other options might there be for having invested capital in the various property markets around the world?

Collective Investment Schemes:
There are many mutual funds that invest into bricks and mortar. Most of these buy into commercial property in developed markets, such as the UK or Europe. They are managed by professional managers and diversify across several commercial sectors, such as office buildings, retail stores (split between “out-of-town” and “high street”) and industrial complexes. They also always hold a portion of the portfolio in cash and property equities, i.e., the quoted shares of building contractors and the like. The cash and shares are to maintain liquidity so funds are available to investors who need to make a withdrawal without selling huge office blocks. The legal structure of property funds is very important to watch. During the financial crisis, several offshore funds (domiciled in the likes of the BVI and Cayman Islands) suspended and have since begun to liquidate, losing many investors their money; some are still suspended. At the same time, there were no UK authorized property funds that suspended.

Fractional ownership:
Although this term has broadened in the last decade, it basically means owning parts of a property. It tends to be most popular in the residential sector and can cover the entire range of property, from distressed sales and repossessions to luxury property clubs. You’re the legal owner of a share in the property; therefore, your name will appear on the deed and you share in the property’s costs and profits and are legally liable. One unique system available is to own “bricks” of property. This is when a company buys real estate at a discount, renovates if necessary and then sells “bricks” for a proportional price. This system allows an investor to own many bricks in many different properties, thereby hugely diversifying their property exposure. Their share of the rent is paid to them (after any management costs), and they can sell their bricks on a specially designed marketplace. An example of a market maker in this sector would be ownbrix.com.

When buying real estate, it’s wise to understand all the legal and tax implications of owning it, as it’s physically located in a jurisdiction and liable to the taxes in that location. If in any doubt, get advice.