24th June 2010
PropertyCommunity.com teams up with Judicare
When in 2007 Bob Sheth set up the PropertyCommunity.com forum (formerly Total Property), he saw a need for an informal online meeting place for the oversees property investment community. The forum platform would enable investors, developers, agents and other professionals to network together to their mutual advantage.
3 years on, 30,000 members delivering 75,000 visits per month are a testament to that need being met. "We've had some exciting and fast-moving years of course (says Sheth) ‘before the Crunch, when rising prices meant that everyone was keen to get involved. People started to log-on to the site out of habit to check up on what was going on with their cyber friends and other investors and we re-branded the forum to reflect the way in which the ‘community’ has come to utilise the site."
Since 2008 the site has seen the community report and debate on a mix of opportunities driven in part by falling prices but also by robust growth elsewhere in the world. Along with these though are an increasing number of developments around the world that have been getting into trouble.
"There are clearly some solid companies out there, developers and agents who are riding the storm and indeed seizing new opportunities" reports Sheth, "and you see on threads relating to them that things are still coming together and providing returns for investors. But there are also situations where communications break down, and investors don't know where to turn, sometimes with life's savings at risk. Some of our members came across Judicare who specialise in investment recovery in this area and have worldwide expertise."
Having been founded by Jose Dorta and Neil Heaney, an ex-pro footballer who invested heavily at the end of his career in a development that ran into problems, Judicare has a personal mission at its core; the company understands what it is to have savings at stake, and to be wary of throwing more good money after bad.
The three men met at the legal services firm’s Hertfordshire base, and it was clear that there was much the two businesses could do both to help investors with problems, and to stop them getting into difficulty in the first place. "Judicare offers a free initial case assessment -" says Sheth, "no strings attached, no obligations - so it's a win-win for our members who face problems of this sort. And I can see that the opportunity to look at the case in advance of any instruction is important to the lawyers too, as Judicare has a low-start fee policy which sees the law firm shouldering the bulk of the costs of legal action until successful recovery."
Heaney’s experience is cautionary: "We find that a number of investors ignore communications from developers, the passing of delivery dates, their own misgivings, missing the opportunity to demand a refund. Timely advice can prevent investments from being lost altogether or spiraling into emotional and costly mayhem.”
Both parties are keen to ensure that suitable investors aren't discouraged from well-researched and solid investments, considering that some of the growth opportunities abroad may be hard to match closer to home. But they are equally keen to ensure that those investors get the right advice at the right time. In a non-commercial arrangement, Judicare is to provide PropertyCommunity.com with a series of advisory articles and a free rapid-response case assessment service for its members, with plans for a seminar later in the year.
For Heaney it's all part of an ongoing education programme, that initially had a special emphasis on providing advice to wealthy young footballers. Now by teaming up with platforms like the PropertyCommunity it’s extending to a much wider audience. "I've had recounted some heart-rending stories over the last three years. I'd like to think I'll be able to retire (again!) in five or ten years, safe in the knowledge that private investors routinely seek quality independent legal advice on property transactions abroad. But right now being able to offer advice to the members at PropertyCommunity is a great step in that direction."