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“Real Estate Matters” – Martina Flawd by Danil Rudoy
“Have you made up your mind?” I heard her say. She was talking to me.
“You said that if the person you were looking for wasn’t there you’d have to decide about what to do next.”
“Yes, I have. It seems the best course of action is to stay here. Do you mind?”
“No,” she smiled benevolently. “Not if you shed some light on the whole story.”
“You were so right, you know,” I said, as if agreeing. “Emmanuelle totally deserved the hundred.” The girl smiled. “But there is something I’d like to discuss with you first. Do you know anyone in this country who owns property?”
“I suppose I qualify.”
“Is that so?” The joy sparkling out from under my raised eyebrows was genuine. “In that case, you could also be the person I need. I am a foreigner, but I have a tremendous interest in some countries’ real estate markets—the UK being one.”
“Forgive my curiosity: what other countries are those?”
“Mostly island nations like the Bahamas or the Caymans. Anything with zero tax has my interest.”
“Well, you’re definitely not getting any of that on this island.”
“True, but with careful planning even this island can serve a good purpose. Where is your property located?”
“In Swansea, if you’ve ever heard of it.”
“I have,” I smirked. “A lovely town with a chess team. How long have you owned the property for?”
“Over seven years.” For the first time, she gave me a glimpse into her. There was sadness inside.
“A lot can happen even in a shorter time,” I said, as if to keep the conversation going. “Is it a house on a lot of land?”
“No, it is an apartment.”
“I see. And during this time, have you had any reason to complain about the property taxes; for example, how large they were to begin with, or by how much they increased annually?”
“The taxes can always be lower, but no complaints in particular.”
“Now, one last question. Would you say you can sell this property now for more than you bought it for seven years ago, and if so, by how much more?”
“That’s a tricky one.” She thought for a moment. “The prices have gone up by fifteen to twenty percent over the last five years. But I’d say I could squeeze out twenty-five, provided I had patience, and as much as thirty if I got lucky.”
“Why wouldn’t you?” I said with a smile, and I meant it. “The English have never been anything but that. Where I come from, you can’t invest in real estate until you’re rich. But here you can do it like that,” I snapped my fingers, producing a pleasantly sharp sound. “And with as little as fifty pounds.”
“Where do you come from, by the way?” Emmanuelle asked.
“From a place where fifty pounds is a lot of money,” I said didactically, letting her know she was precocious. “Naturally, fifty is but the beginning. The dividends are paid quarterly, so you’ll see an ROI in no more than three months, at which point you’d figure out that a bigger investment would also mean bigger returns.”
“Do you mean to say you can invest in real estate with only fifty pounds?” the mother said skeptically.
“Precisely. Ever heard of …?” I named a UK company specializing in crowdfunding for real estate projects. “They make income-generating properties into publicly traded companies where anyone can buy a share. Let’s say an eight-flat apartment building in London sold for two and a half million. That price is broken into a hundred thousand shares that are sold for twenty-five pounds each. The number of shares remains fixed, and if the price of the building increases, so does the price of each share. And, since it’s a rental property, it generates net income, so if you combine the cash flow with appreciation you are looking at a double-digit annual ROI. ROI is return on investment,” I explained to Emmanuelle, who raised her beautiful eyes to look at me.
“I know,” she said indifferently before returning to her phone.
“I’ve heard of this, but you have to factor in the fees, which are often significant and not transparent at all. Besides, properties can lose value, too,” her mother observed. “Especially if you buy at the top of the market.”