The One Thing Not to Do is PANIC!
Volume XX, Issue 21
One of our buyers at Le Charles V didn’t come via our usual sources, such as any of our “Nouvellettres®” or our “community” as we call our readers, friends and clients. Instead she simply Googled us and found us and the property. She committed to purchasing the share quickly, but then took the idea to her financial advisor in the U.S., since the market has been a yo-yo this last couple of months. We received an email to cancel the purchase.
When the stock market goes down, the one thing to do is NOT PANIC. Investopedia says, “When the stock market goes down and the value of your portfolio decreases significantly, it’s tempting to ask yourself or your financial advisor (if you have one), ‘Should I pull my money out of the stock market?’ That’s understandable, but most likely not the best course of action. Instead, you should perhaps be asking, ‘What should I not do?'”
It goes on to say, “The answer is simple: Don’t panic. Panic selling is often people’s gut reaction when stocks are plunging and there’s a drastic drop in the value of their portfolios. That’s why it’s important to know beforehand your risk tolerance and how price fluctuations—or volatility—will affect you. You can also mitigate market risk by hedging your portfolio through diversification—holding a variety of investments including some that have a low degree of correlation with the stock market.”
So, her financial advisor, based in the U.S., who likely doesn’t fully understand what it means to have an international lifestyle, gave her the boiler-plate answer: “Don’t take your money out of the market to make this purchase.”
My reaction to that was a roll of the eyes. She wasn’t thinking about “mitigating market risk by hedging your portfolio through diversification—holding a variety of investments including some that have a low degree of correlation with the stock market.” We hear it all the time. The advisor knows nothing about the property, her love of France, or the positive history we have with fractional ownership in France—for well over 15 years. The advisor is doing what she thinks she should be and voiced certain concerns:
1) The fact that what I’d [the shareholder] actually “own” is a share of a non-profit corporation that exists to benefit the group of owners as a whole. She pointed out that what’s best for that group may not end up being what’s best for me.
My response to that was: As part of the group, you have a voice and can decide what’s best for you, too. The decisions they make are, for the most part, quite small and insignificant because the legal work has been done to perfection by an attorney who is a specialist in the field. There are very precise by-laws to which every buyer must agree and therefore everyone knows the rules going in. There are no surprises.
2) We have no way of knowing how many extra assessments I’d be responsible for financing and this could become a liquidity issue.
Again, I added: This is true of any property ownership, but the apartment is also part of a whole in the building and it has a voice, too. And any special assessments are voted on and approved by the building owners, then in this case, shared among 13 owners, so it’s never too much to bear. We, as developers, also don’t invest in a property that will require big assessments…we always look to see what’s on the docket for the future before committing to the purchase of the property. The estimated dues are known in advance and then tracked annually, so an owner will always know what to expect.
3) At best she looked at this as a lifestyle choice and the funds associated as “my travel fund” but she pointed out that I’m in a part of my life (39 yrs old, two children, and working) where I may not in reality be able to spend a month in Paris each year.
Interesting! It’s unusual for a buyer of a fractional share of a property to be this young, but that makes her smart. She’s not waiting until she’s retired to fulfill her dreams, make investments and smart to take professional advice. I don’t fault her for any of that, but the advisor sees her youth as a negative, not a positive! I have a young family member who is investing in property all over the world with every penny she can pull together, plus every loan she can take out, to amass a portfolio of real estate that will generate a revenue and grow in appreciation, without the market volatility. She happens to be in the mortgage financial industry with a very high level of intelligence and knows exactly what she is doing. While the market is a yo-yo, her properties are steadfast and not only providing a place to stay wherever she travels, but providing security for her future.
Look at it this way…with a fractional share, you have an investment that can be sold at a profit (I have never sold a resale share that wasn’t!), so the only investment is really the annual dues. If you rented an apartment for four weeks a year (the same time as the fractional usage), it would cost way more, so the ownership is a SAVINGS, not an expense.
4) I personally was noting the favorable exchange rate and considering this a great moment to buy property in France, but with uncertain economic times I’m not sure it makes the most sense to tie up a large portion of my liquid assets in a share of this corporation that could end up costing me more money each year than I’d be available to compensate for with experience.
My answer? That will never happen. It never has happened in my experience, and we have a very favorable rate of exchange at the moment, and that means it’s costing you less! One can always sell the share if it doesn’t work out!
She went on to say, “Owning a property in France is one of my dreams. I watched a recording of a talk Adrian gave to the Alliance Française in Portland, Oregon where she talked about many of the practicalities of making that dream a reality.
Again, she can still do that. We have lots of share owners who have sold their shares and then purchased their own property when they could afford it or wanted more usage or independence, using the profits of their share to enhance their budget!
Brian Dunhill of Dunhill Financial, our trusted advisor, added: “All of the questions she asked are great, prudent questions. That being said, my goal in life is to make my finances revolve around my dream instead of my dream revolving around my finances.”
We have dozens of happy shareholders. Each of our properties have their own Facebook Group where owners can communicate among themselves about their experiences in the property. In a recent post by Anna P. from La Belle Terrasse, here was the exchange:
Ann: I bought these plants for the terrace. If they get voted off, I’ll just put them out to donate.
Barbara H.: Beautiful. How thoughtful of you to make our terrasse more beautiful. Thank you.
Anna P.: I hope each owner won’t mind to give them a little drink, just once a week. They won’t mind if some weeks are skipped.
Vicki F.: I like them. Very pretty and adds some nice color and life to the space.
From La Lanterne du Marais, owner Don L. posted:
We are concluding our first stay. The place is fabulous. The location is wonderful. The kitchen is very easy to navigate and utilize. The new fridge is keeping things cold. I’ve learned quickly how to use the induction stove top effectively (of course Jessica was at ease immediately). The clothes washer/dryer works better than any other machine we’ve used in Paris. We’ve never had a dishwasher before so that’s a treat. The Thai restaurant across the street is very good. So many others are minutes away by foot. Of course, if you are homesick, Breakfast in America is 200 feet away. On Rue de Rivoli, the MonoPrix is under construction, Carrefour City has been a wonderful alternative and the FranPrix is good as well. The bakeries, the produce store, the cheese shops are all within mere feet from one another, and are as good as any. The twice-weekly Bastille market is extensive and only a 10 minute walk.
David C.: I’m so glad you and Jessica had a good visit, Don. I agree with everything you wrote. The apartment and the location are really special. Safe travels.
From Les Balcons Saint-Paul:
John E: Hi Everyone, we have been in town for a week and a half. We are having a great time. The apartment is fantastic. The best part is the fantastic view. The balcony is great for people watching. Girls of all ages stop at the corner café and pose for photos all day long. They are their own “Emily in Paris!” Everything one could want in shopping and restaurants only steps away. We have explored each direction, going a little further each time. We could not possibly have a better location. We met our neighbor below, a 42-year-old Frenchman by the name of Antoine. A great guy that you could spend hours talking with. We invited him to see the apartment, and he reciprocated. He got great remodel ideas, and we got to see what our apartment used to look like. A few things about the apartment: Everything is working. I left the printer in the cabinet below the desk where Luz had put it. We bought a great book on the Marais. We will leave it for all to enjoy. The window boxes are a nice touch on the balcony, and we planted another box of pink geraniums. Please remember to give them some water. We bought into a great place in the Marais neighborhood. I am so excited for all of us!
Mark W.: We share your enthusiasm John. Already making plans for our return visit in September.
Read enough? And this goes on and on and on. Our owners are happy. She would be happy, too, so why doesn’t her advisor let her be happy?!
I told our buyer, “I don’t need to hard sell this. We will sell the shares within the next month, but I don’t want you to miss this opportunity just because a financial advisor in the U.S. doesn’t understand it fully! It’s not their fault—they just aren’t familiar with the way it works and that’s what makes me so zealous!”
We have only a couple shares left in La Belle Terrasse and Le Charles V. We are working on a property in Nice, Le Palais du Soleil, and we intend to do a few more if we can. But, don’t wait for the future, because the future never comes. Live in the present and do it for yourself, NOW!
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian at La Belle Terrasse
P.S. For the best financial advice from an advisor specializing in working with expatriates, who understands the pros and cons of ownership in France, contact Brian Dunhill at Dunhill Financial. See our website for more information.