How Do You Say Rococo In Arabic?

I’ve been lucky in the past few years of my life to travel the world. The places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and the experiences I've lived all hold a very special place in my life.

I’ve also been lucky enough to spend several years studying French. So, I guess you could say that I am interested in (nay, obsessed with) any proposed perversion of their culture.

Buti Saeed al-Ghandi, a developer with head of Emivest, an investment and development group in Dubai has just returned from a romantic getaway to Lyon, France with his wife. Imagine his memories! The streets, the food, the culture, the…romance. He was sold. He also had an idea: to plant a mini-Lyon inside of Dubai – complete with designs inspired by architecture in modern-day Lyon.

Why does this matter to you?

He has just signed a memorandum of understanding with Lyon’s mayor, Gérard Collomb, and anticipates sealing the deal on his next visit to the city.

I know, right? “Choc! Horreur! Quelle parodie!” Screams my inner Francophile.

Ghandi’s plans include a university, museums, restaurants, shops, pedestrian streets, courtyards, and a town square – all replicating Lyon. His time spent inside the 19th century Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica may even inspire a church – yes, a church – right next to a mosque.

This can’t be so bad, I tell myself. I read on:

Location is still up in the air – discussion has involved placing the ‘little Lyon’ on upwards of 1000 acres of land. Potential spots include an urban area by the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai Tower; a plot of desert land close to the second international airport, which has not been built yet; and "Dubailand," which is a $10 billion complex including theme parks and entertainment that is currently still under construction.

Any way you toss it, this project is ambitious, at best. And also? A total perversion of French culture. It’s like calling ‘Paris’ in Vegas … well, Paris. The manager of the project insists, however, that it’ll be a far cry from anything Vegas or Disneyland.

What about atmosphere? How does one create a street comfortable enough to stroll down in the middle of the desert heat? I fight visions of massive fans. Somehow I keep thinking about the movie ‘Bio-Dome’ with Pauly Shore.

Naturally, my instinct is to worry first about the wine, and then of course, the food. French culture is known for not only their love of cured meats and delectable cheeses, but their wine, most of all! Muslim countries ban not only meat, but all forms of alcohol. Dubai is a modern city, however, an international hub, even – and tends to be more lenient about those rules. I am still skeptical. I think they still allow cheese.

In any event, my logic has kicked in. What does this mean for the commerce in the city? What does this mean for investors? Particularly investors interested in saturated (yet successful) international markets like Dubai? What it means is a potential boost in the economy of this emirate – and fast. Things are looking up, perhaps.
This project, if it breaks land, will attempt to bring not only the charm, but also the economic successes of Lyon to Dubai. Lyon is currently one of the world’s most popular (top 30) convention sites. Readers Digest named the city the 7th most livable in the world last year. It is for good reason that Ghandi would like to replicate it.

Any way you flip it, this project is interesting. Skeptics are concerned about any attempts to recreate French culture in the middle of the desert – and rightly so. I recall from my days in art history class learning that Lyon was second only to Venice in its light origin – some of the world’s most important pieces of art were painted there. How can that same light be recreated in the middle of the desert?

Again, I digress.

Clearly this project represents great opportunity for investors interested in overseas markets. It also represents great opportunity for further economic development in (the seemingly few) areas of Dubai that are suffering.

My inner Francophile is still screaming.

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Mortgage Survival, Curtain-Style

In a world full of ‘experts’ willing to sell you any kind of ‘expert advice’ on just about anything, a person is scarce to come across a book worthy of purchase. Toss in that same book, and add to it a controversial topic in the real estate industry, and you’ll have people running into next week.

Frank Curtin has been featured by NuWire before. I’d like to take a moment to mention what we didn’t spend much time on in the original article about him. Frank has a heart for people – specifically a heart to educate people - that is clear. He is also an investor who works with foreclosures. For some, nay, most people, this could be a challenge. You see, Frank is an investor who’s helping people who are facing foreclosure, and helping investors who work with preforeclosure properties. Not just by offering them a cure to their financial ailments by purchasing their home, but by first diagnosing the ‘disease’.

With all due respect to investors who prefer the strategy of buying pre-foreclosure properties – there is a serious problem in our country – serious enough to merit ‘crisis’ level attention. Serious enough to get the government to consider cutting its citizens checks (this is a whole other blog post).

The problem does not just lie with predatory lenders, or predatory investors. The problem lies with people who are unable to manage their mortgage commitments due to their life circumstances. The problem has to do with mismanagement of finances coupled with dreams and visions of home ownership. Now, without getting into my personal opinions on personal money management (they are quite strict, and I’ll leave it at that) – I appreciate Frank’s approach to working with his clients in this dire state. I appreciate his willingness to help solve the root of the problem, rather than let visions of dollars direct his actions. I also understand that this approach is unique, and some may disagree with it, which is why I’m writing about it here.

Frank is the first to admit that his primary objective with his business is to help people keep their homes. He happens to make money doing it, and that’s fine. He is an investor, after all.

Very simply, Frank and his partner have put together a book called The Mortgage Survival Guide, and an asset planning program to help homeowners facing foreclosure determine where they are in terms of their assets. The materials teach these homeowners how to approach their lender, and work out a mutually acceptable agreement. If, in the long run, the program doesn’t work for the homeowner and they do end up having to foreclose on the property, Frank and his partner have a second solution for them.

Where this is important to investors is in the training Frank’s program gives investors who work with preforeclosure situations. He explained it best in our article:

“Following the book publication, we quickly realized that families who are late with their payments aren’t buying anything. So we created The Mortgage Survival Guide Associate Program. Our associate program trains professional real estate investors how to work with homeowners.

The investor buys 60-day mortgage late leads from us, along with a case of books, and they gift it to the homeowners who decide to participate in the program. So with this program, the homeowner will decide for themselves whether or not they can afford their home. When they can, we simply wish them well, and we ask them to consider maybe paying it forward. And when they decide to sell, our investors step in and use a variety of investor strategies, depending on the specific situation, to help that homeowner avoid foreclosure.

The best part of the system is that we have exclusive 60-day mortgage late leads which enable us to reach homeowners long before it’s too late.”

The foreclosure market is controversial – no one can disagree about that. Any topic is going to be difficult when you’re dealing with discussing the lot that life has given someone, and the basic need for food, water and shelter. Throw a family into the mix and there is no denying that there is a major human element in investing in preforeclosure properties.

The undeniable benefit that Frank brings to the game is putting the decision to go into foreclosure back into the hands of the homeowner, empowering them to either find a solution, or bow out gracefully. It allows some dignity in an otherwise demeaning situation.

I believe that investing in foreclosures can be smart for the right investor – the most important part is knowing what motivates you. For Frank and his partner, education comes first, and the investment deal comes second, and I sincerely hope that his approach continues to make waves in the investment world.

Sidenote: If you have a second, visit Frank and his partner have teamed up with this site to help families in financial hardship.

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DeedQuest: Easing The Burden Of Due-Diligence (And Lack Of Math Skills) From the Shoulders Of Investors

Real estate investors know one thing all too well in the everyday rat race of the world of investments – the familiar challenge of finding credible information sources to turn to when considering a new investment.

In my position at NuWire, I always have my eyes and ears open for interesting people doing interesting things. Amy Phillips, CEO of DeedQuest is just that – she’s not only a female entrepreneur, she’s also developed a company that provides a tool that will be, in coming months, quite helpful to investors looking for a practical way to evaluate deals, strategies, and ideas.

The purpose of DeedQuest is to streamline the process of real estate investing by creating a platform of people, resources, data and tools that’s accessible to all investors, or would-be investors. I decided to hop on and register to see what kinds of tools are available, and scope out the user interface.

Now, a disclaimer:

Bar-none, the most common complaint that I hear is that the biggest frustration investors have with the real estate market today is the lack of accountability among service providers and so-called ‘experts’. It’s hard to know who to trust. And who to pay for advice. And really, should you have to pay for advice, especially when said advice comes under the guise of five DVDs and a handbook? Frankly, that’s one of the reasons that NuWire exists, and one of the reasons I so enjoy being a part of the team here – we have taken on the duty and obligation of due diligence and education in an industry that makes a lot of empty claims. But I digress. I get excited about companies that exist for the same purpose that we do – this industry is in need of some strict accountability – and fast.

So, I registered.

Here’s what I learned: members of DeedQuest have the option of searching different markets for deals, statistics and data, news and are provided links for other resources that pertain to the area they are interested in. They also are able to analyze properties they are interested in using the built-in property analysis tool, which allows them to calculate potential return on investment and cap rates for different properties. Members can also participate in forums, search properties and save their searches and listings within their profile.

All in all? Quite impressed. This is a tool that investors would be wise to take advantage of.
I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised with the functionality and ease that DeedQuest offers investors to analyze deals and learn about new investment strategies.

Okay, okay. That, and I’m excited to poke around and learn more about other members.

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What is The Brink Tank?

The Brink Tank is a blog written and published by NuWire Investor. It has been created with investors in mind in order to inform readers of the most recent and interesting ideas, people, technology and resources available to investors. It includes:

  • Cutting edge information about new resources for alternative investors
  • Information about interesting people doing innovative things in alternative investments
  • The technology impacting how investors spend their money — and how they make it
  • Discussion about the ideas that are making waves with investors

If you are interested in submitting ideas to this blog, please email

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