Forums / Property Investing / Overseas Deals / Anyone Used USInvest ? Looking at buying US propety through them

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  • Profile photo of mmandbeanmmandbean
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    @mmandbean
    Join Date: 2012
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    My husband and I are looking at buying some US Investment properties. We have been looking at a few companies – so far we have been most impressed with USInvest in terms of contacting us whenever we need and answering any questions. However we were wondering if anyone has used USInvest? What have your experiences been?

    Thank you in advance.

    Profile photo of Alex SCAlex SC
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    First time I have ever heard of them on this forum. Curious do they charge you a fee to see the properties upfront.

    Alex

    Profile photo of mmandbeanmmandbean
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    There is a $995 joining fee which is refundable on purchase of your first property. Their website: http://www.usinvest.com.au/

    They have quite a high handling fee for their properties – over $3K.

    Someone must have used them?? Or heard something of them? If not guess I better start researching elsewhere!

    Profile photo of SydneyBizSydneyBiz
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    mmandbean wrote:

    There is a $995 joining fee which is refundable on purchase of your first property. Their website: http://www.usinvest.com.au/

    They have quite a high handling fee for their properties – over $3K.

    Although I am not familiar with these guys, $3k is a reasonably typical sourcing fee per property, I have seen figures as high as $5500.

    In our case we charge a membership fee of $6k which includes sourcing for the first 2 properties.

    IMHO one key thing to watch is your end buy price on the properties. How well has the company bought when they acquired them? How much markup have they then put on top of their costs before selling them to you?

    Sometimes a lower sourcing fee may be more than absorbed through a very steep markup on property prices, hence the need to be careful about that.

    Hope that helps.

    Regards,
    Ken

    Profile photo of TerrafirmaTerrafirma
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    As an property investor in the U.S. I would question the following before buying from anyone…

    a) Can they provide you with a CURRENT INDEPENDENT valuation on their properties (called a BPO)

    b) If they are selling you the properties at current market value why are they charging fees on top (you mention a $3K handling fee). If it is brokerage fees (can be up to 6%) the seller would normally pay this not the buyer. If it is just purely a sourcing fee are they also making a margin in the price they are selling to you at? If so why are they "double dipping"?
    There are companies buying direct from the foreclosure auctions that will just add a fee on and you buy the property on an "as is" basis (obviously prices are way below current market value however you have to do all the work yourself to rehab, find tenants, insure etc.).

    c) Have you done your homework on the area you are buying in? I would be very careful buying property in markets like Las Vegas, Florida, Phoenix etc. (just my opinion having invested there previously). These markets have come off the 2007 peak prices by 50-60% so may look great value but if you look at the S&P Home value indexes the past few months you will see these markets are still falling.

    Usinvest could be a very good company to work with (sorry I don't know them) but just do your homework with no matter whom you buy from. Hope that helps!

    Profile photo of worldinvestorworldinvestor
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    mmandbean wrote:

    There is a $995 joining fee which is refundable on purchase of your first property. Their website: http://www.usinvest.com.au/

    They have quite a high handling fee for their properties – over $3K.

    Someone must have used them?? Or heard something of them? If not guess I better start researching elsewhere!

    I have not heard of them, however I would be concerned about any company charging upfront fees, In the first instance I would want details ie addresses of some  properties they have sold over the last 6 months. I notice on their site they have example properties, no addresses??

    I would then research these properties using the  zillow site to establish last sales, this site will also provide you with details on other sales for that area/subdivision. There is also information on county fees, estimated rental range and lots more.

    WI

    Profile photo of jayhinrichsjayhinrichs
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    WI

    Careful with Zillo,,,,, It gives good information but you do not want to base your opinion of value on Zillo… Zillo is famous for being either way over current market price or way under.  You can very well pass on good deals because your basing your values from a computer generated system.

    Terrafirma,

    You sound like a US Realtor… And yes a realtor will make their 6% or split 6% with listing agent brokerage house etc. There is a whole industry in AU based on companies that act basically as Realtors, but they charge a fee from the buyers… Like a RE broker here in the states that works on a buyers brokers contract. And of course a RE agent is not allowed by law to pay referral fee's to non licensed companies or persons ( which most if not all of the companies engaged in this activity are not)…
    And it is common for these companies to collect a fee from the turn Key operator as well as from the buyer. So their disclosed 3k fee could be double that or more when they get their fee from the seller, especially if its a turn key operator.  So all this is just added in the price. Although they do more work than most realtors do, they set up the LLC 's and help with ITIN numbers and bank accounts… so on and so forth… And then they  promote whatever ever market they have a US wholesaler in.

    And those fee's may be in addition.. In most states you can set up an LLC for under 100 dollars.

    So you will see some of these companies work many markets and have many US turn key contacts. Others may just work one market.  So there will be Bia's to were is the best Cash flow US market…

    but for now we love the cash investment into the states and welcome these AU investors with open arms. At least thats my opinion… Just would like to see them get a fair shake… As some of them really get abused and end up with some real lemons.

    Now if the AU company actually closes on the property using their own funds then of course they can and do charge whatever ever they want and or whatever the market will bear between willing buyer and willing seller.

    I suspect one of these days there are going to be complaints lodged with states Attorney General's and depatment of real estate about all this un licensed activity and there will be some companies that are shut down, if they are just making fee's for connecting the buyer to the seller. This did happen in Rochester NY… I think its pretty well documented how many AU and GB investors got taken to the cleaners by some really bad actors.

    And of course they can couch it any way they want, and call it a consulting fee etc etc… Many US property flippers over the years have run afowl. with these states department of Real Estate and gotten their hands slapped or fined for selling RE without a license.

    It is a unique niche and there are companies here in the states that do the same.. Most are based in LA,,, and have radio shows and then recommend certain turn key operators and they are compensated from the seller. I know of one company in Irvine that does charge 5k up front for their consulting fee's. They have a direct tie in to Armonda Montolongo's data base, I have loaned them money many times in the past.

    There is another radio show out of San Diego and those guys Jay and Bill are licensed REMAX agents have also made loans to their clients.

    So the AU buying service is just a copy cat of what has already been happening in the US for the last 15 years or so.

    Profile photo of GreaterKCHomesGreaterKCHomes
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    My 2c. I have never heard of this outfit either, but I’m sure with some DD, it will be easy to find out about them.

    I am always concerned with those companies that charge an upfront fee. This almost always means they are “brokering deals” and can never be 100% positive the properties are still available. Many of the “large” turn-key companies have multiple brokers in place, thus these properties can get sold very quickly. The upfront fee ensures they make something for their perceived effort. They offer a “refund”, by just finding you another property, that they can push on you. There would be no reason at all for the “owner” of a property to charge you an upfront fee to buy his/her property, just would not make a lot of sense for them to do that.

    I always recommend that any buyer, should be buying from the “owner” or an agent/broker representing the owner. This information is fairly easy to obtain, as most US counties have owner information on their websites. There are states that do not disclose owner information, but you can pay a small fee to several websites that will give you this information. I would be happy to give you those websites if your interested, I would post them on here, but I’m not sure if the mods would get upset.

    John

    Profile photo of rogerjrogerj
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    I spent a good two months looking for a partner to work with in America before I bought my first property. Checked out some Australian companies and some US based ones. Both types seem to have advantages and disadvantages.

    For instance, Aussie ones are good because you can meet them in person without a long haul flight, but the 2 I went to see didn't have a true presence on the ground in America, so I did some further research and it seems that they are buying wholesale from other companies in America (one of the sales guys actually let something slip which helped send me in the right direction). He kept talking about the research they do yada-yada, but then spoke about a partner on the ground (I won't mention the name), and tried to retract the statement in a weird kind of way, so I looked this company up and didn't have to dig too much.

    The American companies I spoke to, didn't seem to know enough about my tax situation or legal standpoint, because they mainly sold to US Citizens and overseas investors were a small percentage of what they dealt with, in fact 3 of the companies i spoke to refused to sell to overseas investors!!

    Anyway, it seems there are a couple of companies with both advantages, I Ended up going with USInvest because they were based in the US and Aussie, and were only selling in markets they were active in. After my research I was pretty wary of trusting a company in Australia who basically ‘claims’ they have a presence in the US whereas really they were just wholesale partners of some US company and made a tidy commission in the process.

    I’m not one to rush my decisions so I actually flew to the States to meet with the guys and conduct my own due diligence. That was in April from memory, so 8 months or so later everything has been going fairly well (fingers crossed) and they seem to be holding up their end of the bargain. Terrafirma, to answer your question, they also provided me with an independent valuation of my property before I bought it.

    I'm also interested in some Aussie investments, particularly Queensland but at this stage my US ones seem to be holding up pretty well.

    Hope this helps,
    Rog

    Profile photo of Reace LReace L
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    Hi Guys,

    I have also Bought through US Invest and have not really had any problems to date. They sold me a property in Ft Lauderdale Florida and the property seems to be ok and was rented from the moment i bought it. I was worried about getting ripped off so they sent me a property valuation report from a florida registered valuer so that eased some of my concerns. The renovation was done to a high quality (according to the building inspector that they recommended)

    There where a few hidden costs that popped up like the LLC registration that they charged me $499 to set up. (Later i found i was able to do it online for around $250) but apart from that i have no complaints.

    US Invest only sells in Atlanta and Florida and i am keen to look at investing somewhere else. Anyone got any ideas or good companies to recommend?

    Cheers,

    Reace.

    Profile photo of avest50avest50
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    Companies like US Invest charge a fee to gain access to thier listings as a way of separating serious investors from window shoppers or competitors looking to gain accesss. $995 is actually way more reasonable then some other companies and you said that they give you the money back after your first purchase.

    One thing I really like about US Invest is that they have offices in both Sydney and the US. Its good to see companies who are based in their markets.

    Reace, It looks like they are now selling property in Texas and Memphis as well as Florida and Atlanta. The fact that they are expanding also seems like a good sign. However, like any other company, make sure you do your research and ask a ton of questions…

    Cheers

    Pete

    Profile photo of worldinvestorworldinvestor
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    Reace L wrote:

    Hi Guys,

    I have also Bought through US Invest and have not really had any problems to date. They sold me a property in Ft Lauderdale Florida and the property seems to be ok and was rented from the moment i bought it. I was worried about getting ripped off so they sent me a property valuation report from a florida registered valuer so that eased some of my concerns. The renovation was done to a high quality (according to the building inspector that they recommended)

    There where a few hidden costs that popped up like the LLC registration that they charged me $499 to set up. (Later i found i was able to do it online for around $250) but apart from that i have no complaints.

    US Invest only sells in Atlanta and Florida and i am keen to look at investing somewhere else. Anyone got any ideas or good companies to recommend?

    Cheers,

    Reace.

    Hi Reace
    It would be great if you posted the address to give formites an idea on what they are selling.
    Cheers WI

    Profile photo of speedy gonzalesspeedy gonzales
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    I dunno if it's my natural suspicious nature but this thread seemed to have a few first time posters that were very pro towards US Invest so I started some basic research. Most of these first time posters made remarks about having a US office and an Australia office so I looked up the website to find out where their US office is located. The website states :

    2650 se 7th dr. Pompano Beach, Miami Florida.

    A quick google search shows me that this office resembles a nice residential house…looks like a classy area. Nothing overly wrong with having a house and your US address I guess but what started the hair on the back of my neck to raise was further Google searches. Have a look at this link. http://anthony-mellone-convicted-felon.blogspot.com.au/ notice the part at the very bottom of the page….where it states the address he uses to register new companies ??  I'm not suggesting this guy has anything to do with US Invest….just appears to be a few irregularities that would need some explaining for me to be comfortable.

    Profile photo of mattstamattsta
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    for me, i just bought the usa property power pack from steve last week. i haven't gone through it yet, but perhaps it could help you out too for foreign investing in the usa. have you gone through it?

    Profile photo of florraflorra
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    Good work speedy gonzales . I laughed when I read your post. How on earth did you find link to the con man? You must have been a detective in a past life. Lol.

    I have been uhming and ahring about using this mob for the past 2 months but I finally decided today not to. I can’t bring myself to parting with the requested $995 just to acces their website without knowing what they really have on offer. They keep telling me about all these great properties that they have guaranteeing 12-18% returns, but I’m worried that the properties on offer may be over infllated building in the promised rent payments into the purchase price. I am yet to find any conclusive reference that this mob is legit apart from one or two people in this thread. They’re either the worlds best kept secret, or they have nothing compelling to offer.

    My thoughts anyway…

    Profile photo of Alex SCAlex SC
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    florra wrote:
    Good work speedy gonzales . I laughed when I read your post. How on earth did you find link to the con man? You must have been a detective in a past life. Lol. I have been uhming and ahring about using this mob for the past 2 months but I finally decided today not to. I can't bring myself to parting with the requested $995 just to acces their website without knowing what they really have on offer. They keep telling me about all these great properties that they have guaranteeing 12-18% returns, but I'm worried that the properties on offer may be over infllated building in the promised rent payments into the purchase price. I am yet to find any conclusive reference that this mob is legit apart from one or two people in this thread. They're either the worlds best kept secret, or they have nothing compelling to offer. My thoughts anyway…

    Just google the area"s of interest  and grab some address Then jump on  Zillow.com and type away .Though some times the information is a bit misleading .You should be able to get an idea of the different  prices and other information for those markets. Why pay for some thing that is  free.

    If that does not work  pick an good real estate agents and email away. You can get all this information for free .

    Profile photo of Ziv Nakajima-MagenZiv Nakajima-Magen
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    $995 to look at a website? wow! there's a marketing strategy to try!

    No, on second thought, I hereby decalre, (like facebook!), that looking at our website shall always remain free! :)

    Ziv Nakajima-Magen | Nippon Tradings International (NTI)
    http://www.nippontradings.com
    Email Me | Phone Me

    Ziv Nakajima-Magen - Partner & Executive Manager, Asia-Pacific @ NTI - Japan Real-Estate Investment Property

    Profile photo of Sandman1340Sandman1340
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    I too am interested in finding out some more information on US invest.
    Roger ,Reace is your experience still a positive one??

    Profile photo of Alex SCAlex SC
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    mattsta wrote:
    for me, i just bought the usa property power pack from steve last week. i haven't gone through it yet, but perhaps it could help you out too for foreign investing in the usa. have you gone through it?

    Curious whats the price of the course or power pack .Be interesting to see what it says about the USA.  Being from the USA born and raised. I  would like to start looking into books or courses from international Investors on the USA. Need to see and read what others seeing and saying  about the USA .

    Sincerely

    Thanks 

    Profile photo of Ziv Nakajima-MagenZiv Nakajima-Magen
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    Well, I know close to nothing (save what I read here) about investing in the US, so I'll stick to what I know. For a start, let me say that, if you're indeed a conniving spruiker, at least you're an eloquent, well informed one, so kudos on that at least. I'll leave the rest of the US related dissecting to those who know their turf, and concentrate on what I can answer –

    USInvest wrote:
    …our membership encompasses a lot more then access to our website to see what properties we have to sell. We give away quite a bit more then that, and our membership is also fully refundable…

     
    Well,  it's not exactly refundable, it's refundable to those who end up using your services. Big difference there, unless I'm mistaken?

    USInvest wrote:
    …We do not make money from people becoming members; we make money from selling quality investment properties…

    Well, again, no – you're making MORE money when people buy your properties, but you're certainly making (a fair amount of) money from people who become members, and furthermore, if they end up choosing not to buy from you, that money, if I understand correcly, remains in your possession. Not saying there's anything inherently wrong there (well, there might be, depending on what content becomes available for that fee), just trying to use the correct phrase here – You certainly DO make money from people "becoming members". Again, if I misunderstand your refund rules I apologize in advance.

    USInvest wrote:
    I will try to explain our membership strategy because I see you are also in a similar business Selling Japanese property to Australian’s…I commend your approach to selling property, but this is not our current model…

    It's not your current model, because I don't sell properties to anyone, nor do I buy them from anyone (except when I'm conducting business on my own behalf) – I represent others as their agent in Japan. The only similarity here is that we're both in the real-estate business, as far as I can see – you sell a product (property owned by your company, wherever it may have come from), and I sell a service. I also charge in advance, by the way, but this is for people WHO WISH TO USE MY SERVICES – not for people who want to see what it is that I do or what kind of property they can get by working with me. Again, not saying there's anything wrong there, only that we're nothing alike.

    USInvest wrote:
    …let me point out that we spend quite a bit of time and money researching the right markets…All our homes are fully renovated and tenanted, so a full turn key service…

     
    I don't quite get your drift there – you research the market thoroughly, locate what you think are the most suitable deals for your purposes (selling them, rehabbed, to clients), then purchase those properties, rehab and tenant them, so they're owned by YOU and are already making YOU some decent money, whether you're holding on to them or selling them at a profit – if you were to stop right there, and just sell them on the open market like everybody else that research would have already been well justified, in my view. Instead, you choose to sell them to a list of selective clients, who "qualify" by paying you $995 in advance. And, once more – not saying there's anything inherently wrong there, but let's call it like it is – your research is for YOUR own benefit, and clients who choose to consider purchasing from YOU are considering purchasing YOUR properties, found by YOUR research, at a profit to YOU. The fee that they pay is to see which properties YOU own and are considering selling to them.

    USInvest wrote:
    …As some of you may know there is a lot of work involved with getting an overseas client ready to purchase in America. They must fully understand the tax implications…they must be properly structured with the right corporate veil to protect themselves from what we all know to be a highly litigious nation…On top of all that our members want finance…So we have a lot of work to do to make our members acceptable to the US banks…There is a lot more we do long before a person can buy a property in America with us…

    Just out of curiosity, should your website potentially display these properties freely, and you were to charge this fee, oh, I don't know, say when a person actually wants to buy one, as a booking fee of sorts and before you go through all the hassle of qualifying them, what exactly would you have lost, save for a few hours corresponding with that person (what I call establishing a relationship with a potential client and don't charge a cent for, but maybe that's just me)? What do you stand to gain by forcing them to pay this only to view potential properties (and I've yet to read what else they get, asides from your precious time informing them of aspects of the purchase)?
     

    USInvest wrote:
    …a few years back we never charged a membership fee, much like your model now zmagen. Because of this we experienced a lot of window shoppers…wasted a lot of our time…

    I understand your pain, I really do, and we also experience alot of this, but unfortunately, this is business – you get window shoppers, tire kickers, time wasters etc. We also charge in advance for our SERVICE (which, again, is nothing like your model, as we don't buy, own, transfer or sell property), and take the time and effort to explicitly explain to potential clients that the properties they see online are samples, may not be available by the time they qualify and pay their fees, and should be used as guidelines to what can be achieved. We only charge when someone decides to work with us, though, and make sure they are aware that they are now being charged, as we will now be spending our resources to assist them in their intent to purchase in Japan – NOT when they're considering it or in exchange for informing them of what we can do for them or what's involved. Like you, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with your model (although, if all they get for their money is your list of available properties and explanations as to what's involved purchasing in the US, I do have a problem with it), just that we're nothing alike.

    USInvest wrote:
    …Things stay exclusive for our members…without those properties being available to any guy with an internet connection (no disrespect to your current model zmagen)…

    No offence taken, we're actually very proud of our transparency and lack of "exclusivity" as you call it – and we're very happy to spend time informing our clients how exactly they can take advantage of the market we're in, and what it is exactly that we'll be doing for them, so that they're able to clearly see what it's worth for them. All we do is open up communications channels between cultures and environments that are normally not aware of each other – and if you think it's easy to get the properties that we advertise by yourself, I'd love to see you try and hear how you went – yes, it's possible, once you establish the experienced, multilingual, savvy and well connected team that we and others like us have (and there aren't alot of those out of the big cities and big budgets in Japan, where good cashflow deals are all but non-existent). This takes time and effort, saves a whole lot of time, effort and costly mistakes for the client, and costs a whole lot of money to set up – and this is exactly what we (proudly) charge for. By the time someone from another country finishes chasing up one of these properties, assuming he can convince the seller, realtor and agency legal reps to accept them as purchasers, we would have been able to build him a small but profitable portfolio, probably at half the overhead cost of his single unit purchase.

    This is without even touching on the fact that the best deals out there (again, what you're seeing on the website are samples, updated every several weeks – you can imagine some of these properties are offered on and accepted a bit quicker than that) don't normally reach our (or anyone's) website, as they're advertised in a quick email first, and often "snatched" over the phone before they get published, by a qualified buyer who had us (or somebody else) ready to pounce for them. But of course, you know how all this works – the only difference is really in when and what we charge our clients for, and whether this is all that we make (in our case and that of other buyers' agents and proxies), or just as an added "bonus" or "insurance" (in your case).

    Again, I may disagree, depending on what it is you give your clients for this membership fee and how exactly you refund them if they're unhappy with the content – and this was what my comment regarding free content was aiming at. I'd still love to hear what it is you offer your clients for this $995 fee because, no offense, charging them just to view listings that you've researched, purchased and rehabbed because you want to sell them at a profit, doesn't cut it for me personally.

    Ziv Nakajima-Magen | Nippon Tradings International (NTI)
    http://www.nippontradings.com
    Email Me | Phone Me

    Ziv Nakajima-Magen - Partner & Executive Manager, Asia-Pacific @ NTI - Japan Real-Estate Investment Property

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