Wednesday 12 May 2010

Land investment in USA - something new to me

I have made some investment in "Land" in the USA, Texas to be more specific.  These are small investment that I consider "low risk" and medium return on a medium-term horizon. Here is how it works:

The company bought some farmland in somewhere in USA, the land is selected base on many economic and risk factors, for example the state has a positive grow trend of population, i.e. there will be demand in future housing and facilities. There are already some developments in the nearby area and it is near good transportation, i.e. high way. So the demand will come typically in 2-6 years.

The company sells the land to many small investors like us and we jointly own the land. Individually, we hold our investment like a small "trust", so we can name beneficiaries in the event of death. This is an interesting way of owning a trust which otherwise would cost a lot of money and capital to setup. Just a thought!

The company has many teams to work on increasing the value of the land, including, town planning, housing project planning, and legal team and lobbying team to make sure the plan is in order and be accepted by town council.  Once the plan is accepted, it awaits for developer to buy it, hence the exit.

In most cases, if 65% of the investors agree to sell, the deal will proceed, and typically the gain is a multiple of the investment. 

The cost of investment is lower than property because we are investing in land before it was developed. The farmland has low downside of value depreciation. 

I picked that particular land projects from the company because the company has  been around in Canada/USA for 30+ years, the agent for the company has been around 8+ years and I have trusted friends who have invested before and done his home work including going to the headquarter of the company and verified his ownership of the land after making his investment, with the town council of the land he invested. I have looked at the CAGR (return) and the time length of return of the previous land projects by the same company, and I am satisfied with their rate of return. From what I see their past compound annual growth rate of return were typically 15-29% per annum with project exiting in 2-15 years. The 15-year case was a very early project when the company was small and not as influential, the return for that project was 10 times though (16.6% per annum return)

This is new to me, but I'm glad to be trying some alternative investment product.

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