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"高回报"的地产投资项目让他痛失投资

He lost retirement savings in high-risk world of mortgage investment

 
 
几个月前,我的一个朋友被一家通过集资方式而投资房地产项目的按揭投资公司盯上。虽是投资地产,但该公司却是家庭作坊型企业,从老板到投资者都是对房地产行业知之甚少的华社成员。项目组织者称其资金规模高达上千万并且业绩战果辉煌,“我们的资金规模不断增长,投资的项目也越来越大!”
 
A few months ago, a friend of mine was approached by a family mortgage fund that made real estate investment by pooling money from individual investors. Most of the investors are from the Chinese community who have limited knowledge or experience in the real estate industry. The company head boasted assets in tens of millions and a highly successful track record. “We are continuing to grow and the projects we are aiming to invest are getting bigger and bigger!”
 
 
在利率降至历史最低,股市动荡不安而房价却一飞冲天的今天,房地产业似乎也成了唯一一个能通向发财财富之路的行业。房地产业也一直备受华裔人士青睐,大多数人都想从这油水满满的聚宝盆中分得一杯羹。但是除了转手倒卖房契之外,这一行业还为普通投资者提供了其他的参与投资之机会。
 
At the time when interest rate hits historic low, stock market struggles with volatilities but home prices have soared through the roof, real estate industry seems to be the only sector that paves a steady and secure path to prosperity. The industry particularly appeals to Chinese Canadians who are keen on investing real estate and eager to get a much-coveted piece of pie. But apart from flipping a home with the property deed changing hands, individual investors are offered plenty of other opportunities to get involved. 
 
 
在诸多选择中,“按揭投资”格外引人注目。按揭投资基金使用的是将多名小散户投资者的资金汇集在一起,为各种地产开发商提供贷款的商业模式。按揭投资还包括向单一项目开发商提供贷款的组合性投资。作为回报,投资者被承诺将会获得远高于市场上大多数投资产品的稳定回报率。转眼间,加国各地市场上便涌现出大量从家庭作坊到大型机构的各种规模的按揭投资公司,许多都瞄准了华裔投资者。
 
Among many choices, mortgage investment stands out. Mortgage investment funds pool money from many small retail investors to lend to a variety of real estate borrowers – including syndicated mortgages that targets a single project developer only. In return, investors are promised a stable rate of return that beat most investment products in the market. Instantly, mortgage investment firms, from big players to family shops have flooded the market, targeting investors across the country – including the Chinese community.
 
 
随着大肆宣传投资公寓和镇屋楼花的诱人回报率的营销活动风生水起,各种宣传资料、讲座及广告也在社区报纸和社交媒体上不断涌现。

Amid a fierce marketing campaign advocating enticing rate of return for pre-constructed condos and townhomes, promotion materials, seminars and ads flooded the community newspapers and social media. 


“我们非常高兴的是能够通过这一令人兴奋的项目宣传我们的品牌!该开发项目位于繁华的闹市中心,拟建一栋拥有350个公寓单位的45层塔楼。凭借得天独厚的优势,这个投资机会可以带来高达16%的稳定回报率!”

“We are thrilled to bring our brand with this exciting project. The development is a proposed 45 story tower with 350 units, located in the bustling hub of the city. With unique features, the investment opportunity provides a secure rate of return as high as 16 per cent!”


“我们的房地产公司在过去20年已经完成高达逾$80亿元的公寓销售额,其战果辉煌,业绩斐然!”

“Our realty firm has completed over $8 billion on condo sales over the past 20 years with an immaculate track record for success!”


但是,这些营销手段只是一味强调高回报率和飙升的房价,却忽视了投资所涉及的风险。高风险总是与高回报并存。实际上,在银行只提供不到3%的最优惠利率之际,借款方却愿意付出两位数的回报率,这本身就已经充分凸显其中的危机。建筑贷款对经济环境的波动极其敏感,因此属于高风险贷款类别。2008年金融危机就曾导致安省多家建筑开发商陷入财务危机,而其贷款方也随之陷入水深火热的困境。

But the market schemes have overstressed the high rate of return and inflated property values while ignoring the risks involved. Risks and high returns come hand in hand. The fact that borrowers offer double digit return while banks offering prime rate below 3, has perfectly highlighted the risks involved. The construction loans are extremely sensitive to economy downturns, and belong to the riskiest loan categories. Amid 2008 financial meltdown, many construction developers in Ontario are in financial troubles, landing their mortgage lenders in hot water. 


但更令人不安的是,这种按揭投资高回报诱惑背后还隐藏者更大的风险因素,而许多天真的投资者却对此毫不知情。事实上这些地产项目的按揭贷款常按等级划分,这一等级决定在项目失败的情况对贷款方的还款顺序。由于这种向单一地产项目提供组合按揭贷款通常都属于三,四等贷款,因此只有在前几等投资者都受到全额还款后,才轮到他们瓜分剩余的还款额。

But above all, a risker factor lures behind syndicated mortgages, which has never been explained to naïve and unsophisticated investors. These mortgage loans are often sold in tiers that decide the order of getting repaid in the event of default. Investors of syndicated mortgage loans often end up third or fourth inline for repayment, only to share a leftover pie after earlier tire investors were paid in full. 


按揭投资业的商业模式极不稳定,其中风险危机四伏。这些因素导致这个看似利润丰厚的行业的迅速衰退,使得许多公司陷入财务困境或是被监管部门下令关门停业。比如曾要求投资者对一个开发项目至少投资$2.5万元,并因此集资高达$1.1亿元的多伦多Tire 1 Transaction and Advisory Services公司在被FSCO颁布禁止令后,面临死亡之厄运。另一家曾是业内翘楚的多伦多地产贷款公司至少面对三起集体诉讼,投资者纷纷指控遭公司误导而对安省三个高危公寓项目进行了投资。

The shaky business model and hidden risks has led to the rapid decline of a seemingly lucrative industry, leaving many companies in financial troubles or facing regulatory orders to shut down. Toronto’s Tire 1 Transaction and Advisory Services, which had raised $110 million from investors who are required to put down a minimum of $25000 for a development project, has met its fate of demise after having been issued a “cease and desist “order by FSCO.  A Toronto area based firm -- a big and high profile player in the industry face at least three proposed class action lawsuits from investors, who allege that they were misled into making three Ontario troubled condo projects. 


该行业的黑暗现状或许只会加速了按揭投资公司的破产和倒闭,这其中也包括那家盯上我朋友的家庭型的按揭投资基金。该公司所投资的“大型地产项目”惨遭失败厄运,使我的朋友和其他投资者因失去辛苦赚来的养老金而痛心疾首。不过,吃一堑才能长一智。实际上,面对层出不穷的激进营销手段和天花乱坠的宣传,只有增长投资知识和提高风险意识才能让我们远离财政危机和投资噩梦。

The dark reality of the industry may only accelerate the mass exodus of the mortgage companies including the mom and pop mortgage firm that approached my friend. The big project that the firm invested in has failed, leaving him joining a group of investors crying foul over the lost of our hard-earned retirement fund. But a mistake made is a lesson learned.  Indeed, amid a flood of aggressive marketing schemes and inflated promotions, only knowledge and risk awareness can help us steer away from financial disasters and investment nightmares. 
 

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