Warnings to be wary of get-rich-quick property investment schemes

Complaints to the nation's financial watchdog have increased as companies offer get-rich-quick schemes to prospective property investors.

The rate of the nation's property market growth has also led to an increase in the number of companies offering to show newbie investors how to make their fortunes.

Some claim investors will be able to substitute their incomes within a matter of years, retire young on six-figure salaries and own millions of dollars of property, debt-free.

Three years ago, the Financial Markets Authority issued a public warning about property investment seminars and schemes after a promotional campaign from a company offering to show investors with little or no income how to get loans to invest in property.

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And as the property market continues to heat up, the FMA has confirmed that over the past 18 months it fielded 50 complaints and other inquiries about the schemes.

FMA director of compliance Elaine Campbell said New Zealanders need to approach property investing seminars with caution.

Those offering the services also have to make sure they adhere to the financial markets' regulations, she said.

"To provide an investment planning service, you need to be an authorised financial adviser, for instance offering to design a plan with recommendations to realise goals," Campbell told the Herald on Sunday.

"Such a service could involve financial planning involving an investment property. At property investment seminars the providers must be careful that only appropriately registered persons give financial advice and that only AFAs [Authorised Financial Advisers] give any personalised investment advice."

An FMA spokesman said on Friday that most of the complaints had been dealt with, but a number were still "of interest" to the watchdog.

NZ Property Investors Federation spokesman Andrew King said new investors should be wary of anything that was heavily marketed.

"If they're marketing 'Get rich quick, it's easy, we'll show you how and you'll be a millionaire by next Thursday' - run a mile."

It was particularly a problem if seminars led to people being hyped up and then pointed them towards a particular property, he said.

"Some are pushed into things that aren't the best investment they can make."

Property commentator Olly Newland said people had come to him who had been to seminars and said they had been subjected to a hard sell.

Property investment should be done carefully and prudently, he said.

"The cheapest properties are still hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars and people are borrowing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. People get carried away," he said.

"I've had clients who've hocked their homes for 100 per cent [loans] and their parents' homes for 100 per cent. They're bedazzled by the numbers but it's very dangerous."