The Alternative Guide to Property Investment - Review

Review: The Alternative Guide to Property Investment by Frazer Fearnhead

Today I’m reviewing a guide to property crowdfunding that has just been published by Frazer Fearnhead. The full title is The Alternative Guide to Property Investment: How to Build Your Property Portfolio via the New Property Crowdfunding Platforms.

The book is available in both hard copy and Kindle e-book form. I bought the e-book version, partly because (I admit it) I’m a cheapskate, but also because I wanted to get my hands on it as quickly as possible.

For those who may not know, Frazer is the founder and managing director of The House Crowd, one of the UK’s leading property crowdfunding platforms. In his book, he explains what property crowdfunding is and the pros and cons compared with other forms of investment. The book is organized in twenty-three main chapters (most of them quite short), as follows:

  1. Why Invest in Property at All?
  2. How Much Diversification is Sensible?
  3. Why Property Investment is the Best Vehicle to Supplement Your Pension
  4. Establishing Your Own Investment Criteria
  5. Capital Growth vs Cash Flow
  6. Residential vs Commercial
  7. How to Beat the Averages and Give Yourself the Best Chance of Making a Successful Property Investment
  8. The UK Property Market – 2017 and Beyond
  9. Passive Property Investment
  10. A Brief History of the Alternative Finance Industry
  11. All About Equity Crowdfunding
  12. How Does Property Crowdfunding Compare with Traditional Property Investment?
  13. All About Peer-to-Peer Secured Lending
  14. Commonly Asked Questions About Property Crowdfunding
  15. Comparison: Equity Crowdfunding vs Peer-to-Peer
  16. What Returns Can You Expect?
  17. Taxation
  18. How to Decide Whether Crowdfunding is Right for You
  19. Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Property Crowdfunding Platform
  20. Using Your Pension to Invest via Crowdfunding
  21. Crowdfunding Your Own Property Deals
  22. FCA Regulated Companies
  23. In Conclusion




My Review

The Alternative Guide to Property Investment is well written and neatly presented, with illustrations where relevant. It covers most things someone new to property crowdfunding would want to know. As I have been investing this way for several years (using The House Crowd and other platforms such as Property Partner and Crowdlords) quite a lot of the information was familiar to me already. Nonetheless, it is valuable to get Frazer’s perspective as one of the pioneers of property crowdfunding, and there is plenty of food for thought even for seasoned property investors.

Clearly, as the MD of The House Crowd, Frazer has a vested interest in promoting the attractions of property crowdfunding. Nonetheless, he gives a balanced view of the pros and cons and is not afraid to state that it does carry a degree of risk. I agree though with his view that people should not automatically rule it out because of this. While property crowdfunding is not as safe as putting your money in a bank savings account, the potential returns are much higher. And a variety of safeguards exist, including the fact that most property crowdfunding (except for the most speculative development projects) is secured by bricks and mortar. But of course, you should only invest in property crowdfunding as part of a balanced portfolio.

Another aspect of this book I liked is that it explains the range of investment opportunities now available in property crowdfunding. These include equity crowdfunding – the original and most familiar form of property crowdfunding – where investors purchase shares in a property and receive a proportion of the rent paid as well as capital appreciation when the property is sold. But the book also covers secured lending – an increasingly popular option – where investors provide cash to property owners and get the capital and interest back at the end of the loan period (typically 6 to 12 months). And finally, the book discusses property development projects, which offer greater potential profits but also involve bigger risks.

Another important topic covered in the book is taxation, and specifically how property crowdfunding can be used to make the most of your tax-free allowances. The latter include savings interest, dividends, and capital gains. This is a feature of property crowdfunding that can be highly advantageous for investors.

If you are new to property crowdfunding, The Alternative Guide to Property Investment will provide a concise and easily digestible introduction to this field, from someone who really does know this business inside and out. The asking price is modest, and all profits from sales are going to the charity Lifeshare who work with the homeless and vulnerable in Manchester (where Frazer was born).

If you have any comments about The Alternative Guide to Property Investment (or property crowdfunding more generally) please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them. You might also enjoy reading my earlier post How to Profit from Property Crowdfunding, which sets out the basics of how property crowdfunding works.

Disclosure: I have a range of investments with The House Crowd and other property crowdfunding platforms, including development loans, secured lending and equity crowdfunding. I am also a shareholder in The House Crowd. I firmly believe that property crowdfunding can be a worthwhile addition to any investor’s portfolio, and have put my own money where my mouth is!

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The Tremeifion Vegetarian Hotel - A Great Place to Stay in North Wales

The Tremeifion Vegetarian Hotel – A Great Place to Stay in North Wales

I have just got back from a long weekend in North Wales. I stayed at the Tremeifion Vegetarian Hotel in Talsarnau (near Harlech). It’s a place I’ve been visiting regularly for around twenty years now, and I always feel relaxed and reinvigorated after staying there.

Tremeifion is owned and run by a couple named Barbara and Kevin. Barbara is an amazing vegetarian cook. Even if (like me) you’re not a strict vegetarian, it is certainly no hardship to eat the delicious food she prepares, using many ingredients from the hotel’s own gardens.

Tremeifion has amazing views across the estuary towards the Italianate resort of Portmeirion (famously the location of cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner) and beyond that to the Lleyn Peninsula. There are often beautiful sunsets that you can watch from the conservatory or dining room in the evening. Here is a photo I took of one, although it’s hard to do justice to it with a mobile phone camera.

The hotel is in a quiet, peaceful location. It’s on a hill just above the village of Talsarnau. There is one pub in Talsarnau and not a lot else. It’s definitely not a place you would visit for the night life! But it’s a wonderful place for relaxing and chilling out.

Here are a few more interesting things about Tremeifion…

  • The owners have a dog themselves and welcome guests’ dogs, as long as they are well behaved.
  • They don’t have television (no reception) but guests are welcome to watch DVDs in the lounge if they wish.
  • It is a small hotel with only three rooms that are regularly used, so you do tend to get to know your fellow guests quite well. On my latest visit I met two ladies who I only discovered as I was leaving were former members of the England women’s cricket team. Hello, Laura and Lucy!
  • Although the village, Talsarnau, is small, it does have its own railway station, which is on the scenic Cambrian line. Trains run to Harlech, Barmouth and beyond in one direction, and to Criccieth and Pwllheli in the other. On my latest visit I bought a one-day ranger ticket using my Senior Railcard for around £8 and enjoyed wonderful views of the coast and countryside travelling up and down the line.
  • As from this year Barbara is only providing full evening meals at the weekend (Friday and Saturday nights), although guests can stay from Thursday and leave on Sunday if they wish. Full cooked breakfasts (different every day) are of course on offer every day during your stay.
  • If you arrive on Thursday you could always dine on Thursday night at Portmeirion, which is only 10-15 minutes away by car.
  • It is possible at certain times of year to book the whole hotel on a self-catering basis. The owners are also building a yurt in a secluded part of the three-acre gardens. This should be a stunning place to stay once it is open.

You can find out much more about Tremeifion on the hotel website. If you end up visiting yourself, do say hello to Barbara and Kevin from me. Check out the visitors book as well to get some idea how often I visit the place!

And of course, if there is anything you would like to ask me about Tremeifion, please do post it below.

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12 Great Ways to Save Money on Amazon

12 Great Ways to Save Money on Amazon!

I admit I’m a bit of an Amazon addict. I love their huge range of products and the fact that you can read reviews of the products concerned from actual buyers. I’ve always found their customer service first rate as well.

Prices on Amazon are generally competitive, but over the years I’ve discovered a variety of ways to ensure you get the best value for money from them. So here are my top twelve tips for saving money on Amazon…

      1. Always search for the product you are thinking of ordering on eBay as well. Often you will find the same product there, and sometimes cheaper as well. Of course, you will want to check that the eBay seller has good feedback and the delivery charges are reasonable.
      2. If you’re going with Amazon, getting free delivery has become trickier in recent months. In general, though, if your total order value is over £20, delivery is free of charge. If you’re just under the £20 threshold, it can make sense to buy a small item to bring it to the magic £20. Before I joined Amazon Prime (see below) I often bought a pen for this purpose. I can always use more pens!
      3. If you can’t find a small item for the right price, visit Filler Checker. At this website you can enter whatever price you require to bring your order up to the free delivery threshold, and it will then display items you can add to your order to achieve this.
      4. You might also want to think about signing up with Amazon Prime. This service requires the payment of an annual fee, but for this you get free next-day delivery of millions of products on Amazon (and same day delivery in some major cities). There is a growing range of additional benefits for Prime members as well, including instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, free borrowing of thousands of e-books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and secure, unlimited photo storage with anywhere access. If you’re a regular Amazon customer it’s well worth considering Amazon Prime, especially as you can try it free for 30 days.
      5. Prices on Amazon go up and down to a surprising extent. Only last week I was looking at a snazzy digital radio for under £50. I went back the next day and found it had gone up to over £100! To keep track of the price of any item you are interested in, you can sign up at the oddly named Camel Camel Camel and they will notify you by email if and when the price of your chosen product falls below a certain level.
      6. If you’re unsure whether a particular product is good value or not, Camel Camel Camel can tell you that as well. Enter any product details and it will show you the price that particular product has been selling at on Amazon over the preceding weeks and months. You can also install their ‘Camelizer’ browser extension (Chrome and Firefox) to view the price history of any item on Amazon.
      7. Check out the Today’s Deals link at the top of most Amazon pages. Items listed here include ‘Deal of the Day’ and ‘Warehouse Deals’. The latter are pre-owned and refurbished items, and you can pick up some real bargains.
      8. If there is something you buy regularly – e.g. vitamin pills or nappies – you may be able to save money by placing a regular order using Subscribe and Save. Subscribers typically get a 5% discount on the usual selling price, and you can of course cancel at any time.
      9. Check on cashback sites such as Quidco and Top Cashback to see if you can get cash back on your Amazon purchase by clicking through a link on the platform in question. Cashback tends to be available on specific categories of product rather than across the board, but if you’re thinking of buying a large product it’s always worth checking whether cashback may be available for it. See my recent blog post about cashback sites for more information.
      10. And even if you’ve earned cashback on Quidco or Top Cashback from purchases at other stores, you may be able to take your cashback in the form of Amazon vouchers. Typically you get a few percent more this way than if you ask for money.
      11. Lots of market research and survey sites also offer Amazon vouchers as a payment option. People for Research is one that I have done well from myself.
      12. Leave reviews of the products you buy on Amazon. Not only is this public-spirited, it may lead to an invitation to become a Vine Voice (as I am) and get products free in exchange for reviewing them. See my earlier blog post for more information about reviewing for Amazon Vine.

I hope you find the list above helpful. If you have any other tips for saving money on Amazon, please do share them below!

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Two More REasons for Matched Betrtors to Sign Up with Profit Accumulator

Two More Reasons for Matched Bettors to Sign Up With Profit Accumulator

I’ve talked about matched betting a few times on Pounds and Sense. It’s one of my favourite methods for making a sideline income.

For those who may not know, matched betting is a risk-free money-making method that involves (legally) taking advantage of bookmaker special offers. By this means you can generate a guaranteed profit for no risk, regardless of how the event/s you are betting on pan out. You can read my post about how matched betting works here, and my post about why I believe matched betting is particularly suitable for over-sixties here.

Although it’s not essential to subscribe to a matched betting advisory service, if you are new to betting in particular it is highly advisable. The service I recommend is Profit Accumulator.

About Profit Accumulator

Profit Accumulator is a membership website that provides in-depth tutorials on how to apply matched betting strategies to make money. They also provide special “oddsmatching” software to find suitable bets and calculators to work out the necessary stakes (which is of course crucial).

Profit Accumulator have also just added two new services to their Platinum Membership. Previously these were only available to people playing an extra fee of around £15 a month for Platinum Plus membership (in addition to the normal Platinum members’ fee). The services in question are Acca Catcher and Match Catcher.

These two services are both aimed predominantly at people who have completed at least some of the introductory offers and are now looking to diversify their matched betting income.

Acca Catcher is designed to help members profit from refund offers on accumulators. In these you select four or more events to bet on and all must result as predicted for the bets to succeed. Some bookmakers have an offer where if one leg of your accumulator fails they refund your stakes. By carefully calculating your stakes you may be able to guarantee a set profit however your bet turns out. Acca Catcher takes you step by step through finding and exploiting such opportunities, showing you exactly how much to stake and when.

Match Catcher is software that helps users capitalize on horse racing refunds. Again, some bookies offer refunds if a horse you bet on comes second (sometimes third as well). If you can get a close match between the back price and the lay price of such a horse, you can stake in such a way that you only make a very small loss whatever the outcome, and in addition get the refund when your chosen horse comes second or third. With racing refunds you won’t win every time, but overall you will make a steady profit.

At the time of writing Profit Accumulator Platinum Membership costs £17.99 a month, including these two additional services. You can also take out an initial free trial membership which includes two offers that should make you up to £45 in tax-free profits.

In my view if you are looking for a tax-free way to supplement your income, matched betting via Profit Accumulator is well worth considering. You can make over £1000 quite easily by doing the bookmaker welcome offers. After that there are so-called reload offers made by bookmakers to existing clients, and you can now also use Match Catcher and Acca Catcher to help you take advantage of racing refunds and accumulator offers.

If you have any questions about matched betting or Profit Accumulator, please do post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

Note: As per my disclosure statement, I should like to make clear that as well as being a member of Profit Accumulator I am also an affiliate for them. If you join and become a paying member after following any of the links in this post, I will receive a commission for introducing you. This does not affect in any way the cost of the service to you or what you receive for your money.

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