Merryn's Blog

Here's why the property market needs tighter regulation

As the last property bubble burst, some companies thankfully went under. But with regulation in the market still so feeble, investors should beware.

When the property bubble collapsed, we were very pleased to see the back of property sales company Inside Track.

We always hated the way it operated getting people to come to "free seminars" and then bulldozing them, via the promises of being a millionaire in "three years or less," into paying thousands of pounds to go on another seminar and then to buy overpriced property.

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The idea was that would-be millionaires would buy flats at huge discounts to the market price from Inside Track's sister company Instant Access, "the UK's leading membership introducer of off plan residential property in the UK and internationally (primarily the US Orlando and Spain)," and would do so with brilliant mortgages from their other sister company Fuel Investments.

It all ended in tears of course. The huge discounts didn't exist. There was no "instant equity" and scores of people lost everything they had to false promises of easy money. Eventually, Inside Track called a halt to its parade of misery and declared itself bankrupt.

We were thrilled, but we were also hopeful: we hoped that the publicity given to Inside Track and others like it in the wake of the property crash would give some impetus to the calls to regulate the property investment market in the same way as other investment markets.

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It didn't. And now they are back.

Less than two years after folding Inside Track, and even as the property market gears up for the next leg down (see John Stepek's Money Morning for more on this), the two men behind it, Jim Moore and Tony McKay, have set up new company IAP Global, says the FT's Claer Barrett.

Once again, the team are drawing people in with "free seminars" and then attempting to persuade them to part with fees of £40,000 or so to acquire portfolios of properties. Once again, financing is risky and the main promise is of free money in the form of "instant equity" (of at least £25,000 on each property in this case). And once again that instant equity doesn't appear to exist: "market evidence obtained on properties featured in their sales presentation suggests such discounts are questionable," says the FT.

Property TV presenter Phil Spencer has been used in IAP Global's marketing without his permission. He has, quite rightly, complained, saying that he is "appalled and disgusted" that "this bunch" are using his name. We are just appalled and disgusted that no one in the government has seen fit to use the last two years to legislate this bunch out of existence.

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