All Topics / General Property / How Aussies are ripped off in America

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  • Profile photo of rentboyrentboy
    Join Date: 2007
    Post Count: 3

    I was googling for US property deals and came across this site and also another site that the link is for

    check out how much the guy that sold the lady paid for houses in the US I cant undertand how cheap they are how does this work can you get houses that cheap

    does anyone know if you can buy houses for the price that the US guy is buying them for

    Profile photo of bardonbardon
    Join Date: 2004
    Post Count: 557

    Yes you can get houses that cheap but I wouldn't recomend it.  I bought at the low price level ( not the flip price) and still lost out when I sold.  There are to many crims in the game up there.  If its true I feel for that lady in the story it is very sad to think what she is going through.

    If you want to buy US I would suggest Florida they have just had a crash.

    Profile photo of L.A AussieL.A Aussie
    Join Date: 2006
    Post Count: 1,488

    There are lots of places where you can buy a 3 x 2 house for under $100k, or just over. They are usually in areas that are slowly dying as people leave for better job opportunities or weather elsewhere.

    You would want to come over here for a few months to get a feel of what's going on and what's required.

    Getting finance from here is hard if you don't have credit history or credit "score", and I don't know how easy it is to get finance in Aus for an overseas property; probably not easy I'm guessing.

    There are problems with getting property managers for a start, and the holding costs can be high as there is property tax; around 1.5% of property price per year I think.

    Be very, very careful of people over here that will do the deals for you.

    Profile photo of Nigel KibelNigel Kibel
    Join Date: 2005
    Post Count: 1,425

    You can also try Texas, however cheap individual houses at around $50,000 are often in slum areas. If you are interested in slum areas the people in the Jenman article will help you.

    My suggestion is that if you want to buy in the United States do you own research, spend time there. I will look to buy again next year in Indianapolis and Texas but small apartment complexes. By the time we get into the first quarter it should become clearer about how the subprime issue is effecting the US economy.

    Be very careful about the so called experts I have seen first hand some of the slums people were sold into. If people buy using your money to research a market that is wrong and if its proven that people have lost investors money based on that advice they should be put out of business.
    If interested find a good US broker, an accountant and a solicitor, before you do anything else. If you are not prepared to go there to see the market first hand then dont bother investing there, after all its your money do not throw it away. 

    Nigel Kibel | Property Know How
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    Profile photo of diclemdiclem
    Join Date: 2003
    Post Count: 537

    As I have been a member for a while I do remember a "Westan" who used to contribute to this forum quite a bit.
    On reading the article, and the details on his deals, I believe it is the same person…..
    Are you still on this forum Westan?
    Perhaps you'd like a chance to put your side of the story across?

    Profile photo of rentboyrentboy
    Join Date: 2007
    Post Count: 3

    Thanks for the info guys I am blown away by it all, I also got this message back about Westan and his brother I dont know if this is all a beat up but it is weird


    We have two aims with this URGENT MESSAGE.

    First, to help trapped investors (one in particular).

    Second, to prevent other investors from being trapped.

    For some time we have had grave concerns about offers made to Australian investors regarding property in the United States.

    We have just completed an investigation into a group of both Australian and American spruikers who are mixed up in one of the most sordid scams we have ever had the misfortune to report.

    We have no idea (yet) how many people have been caught. One of our US contacts believes hundreds of Aussie investors have been caught. It could be thousands.

    In an article released yesterday, we highlighted the case of just one investor – a seriously ill single mum whose life has been torn apart after being persuaded to invest in what seemed to be a magnificent property deal in America.

    Instead it became a living nightmare.

    Today, this single mum says she is struggling to feed her three children.

    All of the five spruikers involved in (or connected to) this scam have trumpeted the benefits of investing in America; four have publicly trumpeted the fact that they are Christians with the inference being that investors can trust them.

    From what we have discovered, we urge all investors NOT to trust any of these spruikers – at least until extensive research is done on any property being offered. And, by “extensive research” we mean advice from people other than these spruikers.

    Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes speaking with one of the Australian spruikers, a bloke called Alvin Johnson.

    As he wriggled, squirmed, ducked and weaved, I pointed out that between him and his brother (Westan Johnson) they had spruiked the fact that they were Christians and boasted about their success.

    How about doing a Christian act and using some of your wealth to help this single mum to put food on the table?  I suggested.

    He wanted to think about it. Think about it??

    I said time was running out for this woman. I then suggested that if he felt he had done nothing wrong, he may like to explain himself to the Australian public. Would he agree to…

    “I know where this is going,” he said.

    And then he hung up.

    Don’t you just love the way these spruikers run for cover when their schemes go wrong and they are asked to explain themselves in public?

    If you are thinking of investing in the United States, we strongly suggest you read our article on this American tragedy…

    Take great care.

    Profile photo of Leo ChekhovLeo Chekhov
    Join Date: 2005
    Post Count: 42

    I have to say, in this case, I am with Nigel. It seems these blokes have been selling in the slums – as for it being a "beat up" how much worse can it be than not being able to feed a family because you trusted these "profesionals" to put you into a good investment and then you find out you have been scammed big time.

    These Johnson dudes are most probably liable legally – after all they charged fees for profesional service. Fancy paying someone to find you a dud deal – OUCH!

    Theyd better hope they've got some profesional indemnity coverage.

    As for why Westan has not been on this forum for a while thats got to be obvious!


    Profile photo of Nigel KibelNigel Kibel
    Join Date: 2005
    Post Count: 1,425

    I was attacked a few weeks ago on this site for dare mentioning anything about Westen. I do not always agree with Jenman, however if you take money from someone based on the fact that you are giving them advice and the property turns out to be a dud, you should take responsibity for that advice. Westen states that he has not adviced anyone to buy in New York state since 2005. WHAT CHANGED? How many people brought their before 2005 before it was discovered that it was a bad place to invest. 
    I spent most of last year in the States. Although I brought a small complex in San Antonio I did not buy for anyone else. The reason is that until I am comfortable with the market I would not expect anyone else to buy their. I am in the process of looking at other areas. Once the end reasults of the sub prime market become more obvious I will go back andf review the market.
    If you are interested in the states seek advice from a local accountant, solicitor and finmance person. Also put the time aside to go and study the market for yourself. The rewards can be great, but there is downside for  the unaware investor.   

    Nigel Kibel | Property Know How
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    Profile photo of westanwestan
    Join Date: 2002
    Post Count: 1,950

    Hi Forum Members its been a long time since i was on the forum- this post has come to my attention and i while i'm disappointed that these sorts of stories do the rounds i am thankful that it also allows me to voice my side of the story.  Please read my response. I wrote this many months ago-

    Public response to Real Estate Agent – Mr Neil Jenman


    Recently an Australian Real Estate agent Mr. Neil Jenman, posted an article on his own web site attacking my conduct and reputation.  This post was I believe unduly critical towards me. It implicates me in a scam entitled ‘How Aussies are being Ripped Off in America”. Unfortunately I have had no independent opportunity to voice my side of the story. I thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

     Mr. Jenman’s article mentions a lady ‘Kathy’ who was offered 3 properties in Buffalo and Rochester, USA. The article states that she purchased property from a company called Genesis Real Estate Investments at enormous mark-ups and that I am directly or indirectly implicated in a scam as a result of inviting two speakers from America to present at Information Evenings in Australia in April 2005. Firstly I need to state  – Kathy is not one of our clients, she did not purchase any property through our company. To the best of my knowledge I have never met her, never spoken with her nor have had any correspondence with her. I have never received any money from her. –  We have no record of ‘Kathy’ attending any of our information evenings held in Australia back in April 05 (we have kept comprehensive records of who attended and she never booked a ticket).  – My independent research tells me that Kathy purchased her 3 properties from Genesis through the assistance of another property investor group based in Newcastle, who while known to Mr. Jenman, is not named at all in his article. – Kathy has never approached us for assistance to her situation and neither did Mr. Jenman prior to his post on his web site. – Mr. Jenman did email me requesting answers to a series of questions before he posted his article, but he made no mention of Kathy in his email. Unfortunately my full page response to him was condensed to a two line response. Now the facts:          Mr. Graham and Mr. Glushefski did come to Australia in April 2005 in response to an invitation, to present at three information evenings about investing in the USA. There was tremendous interest at this time in the opportunities to buy properties in New York State that were showing amazing on paper returns of 20-25%. For example $45,000 properties renting at $850 per month.  At the information evening we outlined the process of buying in the USA and gave a background on two very different markets, San Antonio in Texas and Buffalo in New York State. I had purchased properties in both these cities. We made it very clear that we were at the very early stages of investing in these markets ourselves, having purchased my first property there four months previously.  As a result of these information evenings a number of investors decided to invest in the USA.  A significant number of people travelled to the USA to explore the opportunities for themselves. Some of these people purchased through Mr. Graham and some through Mr. Glushefski.            At the information evenings, the Newcastle based property investment company that also worked with its own investor group, approached us with an offer to work with Mr. Graham.  An arrangement was made that Mr. Graham’s company would work exclusively with this other company (in exchange for a token consideration from Mr Graham for each property sold.)          After June 2005 none of our investors purchased through Mr. Graham’s company – Genesis Real Estate Investments.  The USA was a new market for us as I’ve mentioned, by Nov 05 we were so disappointed with the quality of property management I decided that I would no longer offer properties in Buffalo to our investors.  We have since found a property manager who is doing a much better job than our original manager.  Today I still own 2 properties in Buffalo NY, these properties return cash flow every month to me. Sadly this isn’t the story for every investor. Some investors have become dissatisfied with their investment and decided to sell. I am aware that some people sold their properties for less than what they paid for them while others sold them above what was paid.   With regard to Dan Glushefski – I would like to point out two things: 

    1. He has never claimed that he was selling his properties below market value.


    1. He was selling properties that he had purchased, rehabbed and then resold at a profit.  This fact was made clear to investors. No one was ever under the illusion that Mr. Glushefski was offering these properties at cost price to himself. He was doing this as a business venture and had taken on staff to ensure properties were renovated. It has been quoted that Mr. Glushefski is a flipper, yes he does buy properties rehab them and sell them, to imply he does no improvements to them is wrong.  Mr. Glushefski carried out extensive work on many of these properties.

     In regards to the dollar values quoted in the article, they might be accurate, I don’t have access to that information. However, I was aware that Genesis put in place a program with its Newcastle promoters where they would carry out renovations (at Genesis’ expense) on properties after they had sold them and offered a rental Guarantee to cover the loss of income for the investor. The net result of this is the profit to Genesis look substantially higher than what they really are, because they haven’t included their rehab costs. We have always recommended that before investors buy they do their own independent checks before purchasing any real estate.  These checks include valuations (to ensure the price paid is appropriate) building inspections (to ensure the structure of the property) and independent rental appraisals (to ensure the rentals quoted are accurate).  

    It is totally unfair to hold me responsible for this Kathy’s situation and investment decisions. It is neither the fault of Mr. Glushefski or Mrs. Dymphna Bohlt who was also attacked in the story. Mrs. Boholt has no business relationship with the two American companies and spoke at our initiation exclusively about Investing Structures and Asset Protection.


    After Mr. Jenman wrote his first article my brother Alvin Johnson rang Mr. Jenman to clarify the facts. In this conversation he offered to help Kathy in her situation, to which Mr. Jenman replied “will you buy her properties off her?” This is an absurd proposition for us to undertake. 

     Our offer to assist was never reported on his web site and Alvin’s conversation was reported as one where he “squirmed” etc. Because Kathy is not our client I have very little knowledge of what has transpired, however since the story was published Alvin has been in contact with Genesis and they inform me that they offered to sell Cathy’s property for her, an offer allegedly she refused. 

    Anyone who has had direct dealings with us knows that we are not in the practice of ‘hard selling’ properties. We present opportunities and allow investors to make up their own minds if the opportunity presented is something that meets their investing criteria. I have never suggested to an investor to mortgage their own home to buy a property one of our contacts makes available, and I don’t and legally can’t offer financial advice.


    This whole matter is very sad for Kathy, as someone who has a knowledge of Buffalo, my offer to assist Kathy still stands. I have always tried to assist people whenever I can. Even last week, I was contacted to assist another investor who purchased some properties in Jamestown NY (not through us or the other company mentioned in this reply). Unfortunately I have no contacts there but was able to give her some general advice about dealing in the US market.


    I have found Mr. Jenman’s attack on me to be professionally and personally insulting. I have been accused of being disreputable – quite unjustly. While not perfect I have always taken the honest and open approach. My reputation is something very valuable to me.


    Thank you for taking the time to read my responses and to those who have reserved comment on the matter.


    Mr. Westan Johnson


    [email protected]

    Profile photo of wellonthewaywellontheway
    Join Date: 2006
    Post Count: 20

    I fully agree with Nigel – do your own research (cannot stress this enough), not only on the market, but on the agent you use.  I *thought* I did enough research, whilst relying on my "buyer's agent" in going into a JV in Rio Grande Valley – a mistake that cost me $12k + lost opportunity cost + forex lossess (around 20% – but this was a risk I was prepared to accept).  I invested $27k and got back just over $15k a few months ago.  Below are some of my learnings:

    1) Being pressured into signing the JV agreement (which was just over 3 pages from memory) without having my solicitor go through it (quite foolish on looking back)
    2) Did not see the alarm bell when the US buyer's agent failed to provide evidence on the area's fundamentals and comparables, and was very slow in responding
    3) The builder did not provide statement of accounts of the expenses
    4) The builder sent the money to the US buyer's agent and i was not informed by either the US buyer's agent or the builder – until I checked.

    I still believe that there are good deals in the US, but obviously you'll need to know what you're getting into.  I always challenge myself – why buy in a market where there is 9 months of oversupply, rather than a market that is vastly undersupplied (I don't have the exact figure of undersupply in months).


    Profile photo of MartywmwMartywmw
    Join Date: 2009
    Post Count: 3

    My response about Westan Johnson

    I have followed the advice of Westan Johnson for a few years now, and thank God i did.  It has changed my life for the better.  In 2005 I went to Buffulo NY to look at property with a business associate.  We found it all too hard, despite the high rents etc.  When I was introduced to Westan I was also cautious, and went to Texas to investigate.  All he said was true.  One of the reasons he liked Texas so much was the strong economic fundamentals that would hold up better in any down turn.  He was right.  Never have I made and continue to make so much money from property than I have from Westan's guidance.  I have referred many clients to him and they are all very happy.


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    Profile photo of ducksterduckster
    Join Date: 2004
    Post Count: 1,674

    Another thing you have to be careful of is buying in a town where half the population has left – thus property prices are cheap but there is no employment for half the houses in the city. Thus tenants are hard to find .
    It is hard to imagine a place where half the population has left but this is how bad the economy is , in the USA at the moment.

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