Buying Property? Beware Of Property Sourcing Scams
I live in the UK and bought a buy to let property in Buffalo in the USA. The property was sourced by Ajay Ahuja and his Ahuja Group. It never made profit, as promised by the Ahuja Group and its preferred third parties in the USA.
In fact I - like so many others, soon lost many, many thousands of dollars because of Ajay the rogue property sourcer and bad landlord.
Still trusting Ajay and his staff, a few months later I purchased a second buy to let property - sourced by them - hoping to bail out the first. It also failed miserably. Just over one year later, both properties were threatened with foreclosure.
Stress Related Heart Attack?
Only days after paying a large sourcing fee to Ajay for the first property purchase I suffered a major heart attack.
Obviously I survived and elsewhere you can read about how I reversed my heart disease.
Otherwise my partner would have been left alone to deal with this financial disaster. My dream of extra retirement income turned into a nightmare. I feel I have a duty to share my story as a warning to others about trusting people like Ajay.
I trusted Ajay Ahuja, also known as Ahuja Holdings, Ahuja Group, www.ahuja.co.uk, www.propertysourcer.com/,etc. I did not consider myself naïve. Over the years I have worked my way up the property ladder and been a (good) landlord. I believed the claims on Ajay's website and in his literature that profits could be made by investing in US property.
More recently I have found the name Ajay Ahuja connected with terms such as conman, con artist, swindler, crook, etc. Thankfully, I even learned that Ajay has already been successfully prosecuted at least once already here in the UK.
The Ajay Contract
Notice that in his contract (see image below) Ajay promises properties yielding 20% or more. (My partner says Ajay forgot to put a minus sign in front of the figure of 20%)
Notice that the USA buying trip is crossed out. If Ajay's UK clients ever got to the USA and saw his specially sourced properties for themselves, lack of tenants, etc. then there would be far less Ajay victims, if any. Notice that Ajay didn't sign the contract.
- Video - Texas Man Gets House For 16 Bucks
Texas man gets house for $16 under obscure law...
Ajay provides what is known as a property sourcing service. I was required to pay £2,750 for details of the first property and £3,500 for details of the second property in Buffalo, USA.
Later I discovered such information is available for free at sites such as RightMove.com
At Rightmove I found full details of numerous properties for sale in Buffalo and other such areas. Many of these rental properties were already under stable management with long-term tenants, and other information.
The property sourcing fee I paid to Ajay could easily have purchased a rental property in Buffalo complete with tenants and a proven rental history.
Property Management In Buffalo
Ajay's recommended USA property management are located in Buffalo and there was no reason to suppose they would have any significant problems managing my newly purchased Buffalo property with its three tenants and Ajay's assurance of no void period.
When rental income failed to appear from the property I queried my Buffalo property manager. Initially they seemed unaware there were any tenants in the property. They eventually informed me the tenant in the back unit did not pay rent but maintained the property and collected the rents from the other two tenants. When the property manager told him he was now required to pay rent he departed the property. Next, the property manager informed me the unit had been vandalised and all the plumbing/copper had been taken. I was sent a bill for over $11,000 to make the unit tenantable again.
I deferred paying that amount. It seemed more cost effective to instead purchase a second tenanted property. I still believed Ajay in the UK and his preferred people in Buffalo - the real estate agent and the property management people. Obviously more rents would pay the damage bill faster - or so I figured.
Second Property Puchase
To cut a long story short, after reassurances all round, I went ahead with a second rental property purchase in September 2008. With four new tenants added to the remaining two, it promised to bring in enough rental income to turn the situation around.
After the deposit and paperwork went through I was informed that in fact there were no tenants in the second property. There was no explanation as to what happened to the four tenants.
In addition to paying for the required inspection, I also had both the Buffalo real estate agent and the property manager attend the property. (Remember, these were both recommended to me by Ajay Ahuja as his preferred third parties). They both assured me it was in excellent, rentable condition. I said I could only go ahead with the purchase if tenants could soon be put into the property. The property manager assured me this would not be a problem.
Months later there were still no tenants in the second property. The property manager suggested I form an LLC to allow me to have section 8 housing assistance tenants. The LLC cost me $817.
The property manager soon put in two section 8 tenants but then were unable to collect all the rent. In addition there is a $1100 plumbing bill for repairs required when the water was turned on plus $1,044.36 for City Taxes.
Meanwhile there are unpaid bills at the first property. These include recently discovered water bill of $3,556.84 plus $509.64
October 2009 and the property manager informs me it's necessary to begin eviction proceedings against the two section 8 tenants plus the two tenants at my first property who are no longer paying. Eviction costs are $480x4 for evictions = $1,920 plus $100 for each extra court appearance.
The above expense is all in addition to what I have already paid - 10% of all rents collected to pay for management, lawn-mowing costs, winterization costs, landlord's insurance (which didn't cover the damage to the first property because it was "vandalization"), etc.
- Video Interview - Ajay Ahuja Property Conman
Interview with Ajay Ahuja, property sourcer, prior to multiple court appearances in the UK
What About The Recession?
Surely Ajay - and his staff/agents - should and would have known more about the recession, downturn, economic condtions, whatever in 2008 than most. Despite this, his contracts promise properties yielding 20% or more.
As I say, one tenant at my 1st property had never paid rent at all! Iinstead he'd been maintaining the property and collecting rents from the other 2 tenants. Therefore Ajay's figures for it were completely false and misleading. There were no tenants - therefore zero yield at best - in the 2nd property until I finally got rid of the bad management. In fact any yield is way, way in the negative due to actual costs such as city taxes, water bills, vandalism, winterization costs, lawn fees,etc.
It's Not Just Ajay
It's not just Ajay in the UK. There's also something rotten in the state of Buffalo (or anywhere else) when -
1. Real estate agents can sell properties promoted as tenanted - without tenants.
2. Where property managers can promise to easily get (four) tenants and then fail to get any. (Especially when I made it very clear that I could only support a second property if it was quickly tenanted.), when they can suddenly discover bills unpaid for 12 months plus, etc. etc, ad nauseam
3. When compulsory landlord insurance refuses to pay out on property damage.
Operating from the UK overseas landlords are entirely dependant on the "preferred third parties" on the ground in Buffalo. These guys all know that!
They know better than anyone - certainly far better than novice would-be landlords from overseas - the huge amounts - city taxes, water bills, repair bills, insurance, winterization, lawn fees,etc. that must be paid. They knew I was already stuck with paying the $12,000 vandalization bill - now with 1 tenant less - for the first property. And now I had twice the commitment, but Instead of tenants I only get more and more of this -
"Dear Buffalo Property Owners:
The summer season is upon us, and the grass is growing! We will be charging $40 per month per property. This will assure a beautiful and violation free lawn all summer long!
We will set up automated billing which will deduct the monthly fee from your portfolio income beginning May 1, 2008. If we receive a check or credit card number before May 1, you will receive the entire season for $200 which is one full month off!"
As your property management in Western New York, it is our duty to make sure that your property is kept up. Lawn maintenance is an easy target for fines, which come to the property owner, and, worst case scenario, can land you in housing court."
Further Costly Mis-Management by Ahuja's Preferred Third Parties
"Charles, I have called the appropriate parties. Of course I have some wonderful news for you. The rear building at xxx Niagara also known as xxx Niagara has its own water meter/account. The balance is $3,556.84 and an unpaid user fee (garbage) of $509.64. These bills have not been seen by anyone since you purchased the property as I was unaware that they were separate bills/tax properties! Due to lack of funds, xx Duerstein city tax for this year is still unpaid of $1,044.36."
All of these horrendous costs with zero rents coming in!!!
I hope this page helps expose more of the goings on behind the hype and lies of property sourcing scams and people like Ajay Ahuja. Need I mention the sleepless nights and countless times of waking up not out of a nightmare but into one?
Have you had a similar experience? I soon discovered dozens of Ajay victims like myself - how many, I don't know. Your comments are welcome. Also helpful advice, etc.
First Property - Sold!
December 2009 - accepted an offer for the triplex on Niagara Street - sold for $18,500. Yes, paid $67,000 for it in March 2008. That's with ALL the bills paid, insurance, etc. completely up to date - and two tenants. Except of course the estimated $12,000 bill for repairing the back unit (which the insurance refused to pay because it was "vandalism").
Total loss from just this one property sourced by Ajay Ahuja - At least $50,000.
I hope to get a better offer for my quad on Duerstein St, Buffalo, which is in far better condition and fully tenananted. All bills now completely up to date except for the insurance which was cancelled earlier in the year.
Why was the insurance cancelled? Because the (Ajay recommended) property manager in Buffalo neglected to inform my insurer of their change of address. So the insurance renewal notice went to a previous address, along with all the reminders.
I finally managed to find another insurance agent and Duerstein is properly insured. Of course it was another nightmare explaining why the original insurer cancelled and was refusing to re-insure.
Why on earth management would not have arranged to have their own mail forwarded to their new address is beyond my comprehension. Until I got involved with Ajay's preferred third parties in Buffalo I never left bills unpaid. Incurring penalties, interest, etc. on overdue bills is a completely new experience for me.
I have finally found new, sane management for my remaining buy-to-let property. The saga continues on My USA Property Scam Nightmare - Part II
Thankyou everyone for your comments on this page . For sure, keep those comments coming but this page remains a bit depressing for me, so maybe let's take it over to Part II.
- Video Update - Texas Man Loses His $16 House
Well, how about that!
Property For Sale in Buffalo, NY
It's now 2012 and, thanks to saner management, the other Buffalo property is all fixed up, fully tenanted, etc.
Because I lost so much on the 1st property I'm hoping for a fair price on this one. All reasonable offers will be considered. If you know anyone who might be interested in a sound investment then please contact me via this hubpage.
Now - don't miss My USA Property Scam Nightmare - Part II
- USA Locations
UK based fully licensed Realtor
- Landlord Action UK
Need to recover money from Ajay? See how effective Landlord Action are - working with barristers and solicitors.
- The New York State Attorney General - Complaints
We welcome your complaints. For consumer type complaints, we offer a mediation service if we believe our intervention might assist in resolving disputes.
John Hill on September 08, 2016:
I have just discovered this site after a run of bad experiences with a property in 14621 Rochester. I bought through Brennan and they linked me to Colleen Braccii. This lady took me for a ride and finally drifted off the scene with a lot of my rental money after ripping me off in all the usual ways. I took her to court and won but she only part paid and my solicitor told me she wheeled out the walking stick and tissues!! Anyhow, I was passed to Safe Harbour , a slick talking fellow raised all sorts of essential expenditure and billed me at the outset and I quickly decided to cut my losses, found some advice on a website that mentioned ROC Property Management and Lynne Betlem and changed agencies. Lynne was advertised as having held a top position in some Realty Association so all seemed ok. Sadly not. I even visited the property and agreed some internal work to improve the place and add a bedroom etc and was promised photos etc. Well the bills arrived but never any photos despite my regular requests. The rent disappears, the bills keep coming and now I am facing Tax Delinquency issues with the County Authorities. So, after 9 yrs of continual disappointment I might be forgiven for wondering if any Property Manager is honest in the USA. Of course I know they exist but doing distant due diligence checks is extremely difficult and I can see some folk herein giving positive reports about agents who from my personal experience plainly dishonest ....... Who can you trust? I wish I had found this site earlier but I am really looking for good news stories - stories from landlords who have several good years of experience with a responsible agent. Can anyone help me in this regard?
Sabrina on June 25, 2015:
Reading your story feels like it is my own, I am going trough same with my property manager, things started going really wrong from the beginning when I trusted Sunil Tulsiani and purchased two properties from him. I am based in Canada so don't know anyone in the US to what Sunil said not to worry 'cause he had property management company in place. That was part of the deal he sold me, two properties fully repaired, property management company and tenant in place; none has been true, dealing with his property management company is being a nightmare. One of my properties was vandalized as well while Sunil told me there was a tenant and property was being taken care off, few months after I found out that it was actually abandoned and vandalized. I am not sure what steps to take, looking at the option of taking legal action, while I would prefer solving all directly with him he is now willing to.
You may be able to find a new property management company by researching online and calling every single one you find asking pre selected questions like : What are your management fees? How do you screen tenants? Do you have a website where monthly statements are uploaded and tenant's concerns are as well? When are rent cheques mailed out to property owners? etc.
It will take you some time but with some work you'll find someone. I have done the same for my properties but sadly they are in a quite complicated area and cant find a new property manager.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 29, 2015:
Kelly, your situation seems worse than mine was, and you're still in it! I really feel for you. I'm sorry, I am now completely out of the loop since selling both my properties (at a huge loss) so in no position to advise. Info on Todd Vanderlip is in comments on this page, he helped me sell the second property finally and end my nightmare so I would recommend him.
Kelly on May 29, 2015:
I bought a Buffalo city property a duplex, same like you, but from USA Direct in March 2012. i paid US$45k plus repairs and set up cost totalling 70k. similar story like yours, initially was vandalised, changed property management through USA Direct's recommendation again and got ripped to pay $15k for repairs to replace boilers, carpets, fix the electricity etc and unpaid $5k water bills as they said outside my property is leaking water and i need to pay the bills otherwise they will foreclose my property and i will be sued.
so i ended up paying 10k for the repairs and the rest to be paid via the rental.
but my duplex i only got 1 unit rented on the lower unit. the upper unit has practically been vacant except for a few mth's rental for the past 3 yrs.
now i was told that there are 2k worth of water and property tax not paid and the rental is insufficient so i have to remit money to them plus lawn care fee of $450 per year. i still have about 5k of repairs bills not yet cleared because only l unit is rented and the monthly repairs plus service fee and property mgt fee is insufficient to pay down my 10k debt. there seems to be perpectual repairs bills and service fee by my current property manager of averagely US$500 every few months.
in summary, i would like to find out if you have any reliable property mgt company whom i can trust.
i am in the midst of looking for a property agent to either sell if the price is reasonable. alternatively if the price is not good, i am looking for a reliable property manager. I looked online and found the company Dasa properties LLC and MPG properties so far can't find any bad reviews on them.
1. have you heard of these 2 companies and if they are reliable or do you have a current Buffalo city property manager that you are using now to refer me to? another property manager that i googled online is MPG properties
2. also if you could refer a reliable real estate agent, that will be good as i am concerned if i will get my money if i were to sell my property.
3. i tried to ask my real estate agent to view the unit and take pictures of my property but so far the current property manager seems to be uncooperative and hard to arrange viewing.
4. i have concerns also that if i appoint another property manager, my current property manager is likely to be uncooperative and may even vandalised my property again. that is the reason why i am asking the real estate agent to take pictures of my property as evidence of the current condition of my property.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 16, 2015:
Sabrina - thanks so much for dropping by! Yes, my mood and health recovered when I ended my USA property ties. Thanks for adding your warning about Tuisiani. Because this sort of thing is so common, I'd like to mention my latest site, about something called TROM. It helps one understand and deal with people like this, handle life's overwhelms, reverse them, start to win, etc. Might not be for everyone but it's working for me: http://www.freewebs.com/cyberwyz/trom
Sabrina Alice on May 14, 2015:
Hi, I am sorry to hear your story, hope that at this point you have recovered in full your health and that you have recovered your money. I am Canadian and I'm going trough the same exact situation. Purchased two properties from Sunil Tulsiani, Tulsiani Investments, Private Investment Club. I have put thousands of dollars in repairs that were to be donne as per purchase agreement with Sunil Tulsiani. One of my primary goals at this point is to make bring awareness so that it does not happen to someone else.If you know of anyone that is planning to invest with Sunnil Tulsiani please provide them my email address so that I can share my story with them so that they can make an informed decision, not like I did a very bad one. I trusted the guy because he claims to be a retired Canadian Police Man and so I really trusted him.
Todd Vanderlip on July 11, 2014:
Thank you for the kind words Derrick. ToddVanderlip.com for anyone looking for information or need my contact info.
Valerie on June 25, 2014:
WARNING - Don't use LIGHTHOUSE MANAGEMENT LLC IN ROCHESTER.
Colleen Bracci is a good contact who I would recommend if you're wanting to purchase or sell a property. Deborah Brennan in the UK is also a good contact whom I found to be trustworthy and helpful.
I have just sold arenal property in Rochester which we had for 6 years. We sold at a loss, although we had one good tenant in the property for around 3 years and were fortunate to receive rent each month.You do need to be aware of the insurance and tax charges which you will incur. It was when our tenant moved out that our problems began - soaring maintenance charges for repairs every month amounting to in excess of $15,000 - some of which was coverd by insurance. And you have little power to challenge these unless you have somebody on the ground you can trust who will check things out.
My advice is DO NOT USE LIGHTHOUSE MANAGEMENT LLC - and DO NOT deal with Scott Seppen.
Derrick on March 31, 2014:
I've read your story and I'm sorry to hear what has happened. Todd is a very good friend of mine and I'm happy he was able to help you sell your property. As a Buffalo Real Estate Agent, I for one can tell you that Buffalo is an awesome place to have rental properties with have cap rates.
I would like to offer my two cents for anyone willing to invest in any market. As with anything do your Homework. Real Estate as with life takes time and care to nurture and understand. It's not a fast way to get rich and sometimes can be a painful process, but it does have it's rewards. Ask yourself about any investment and if you want it to mature over time you have to keep an eye on it. The same can be said about Children. We don't let our kids run off and mature on their own. We have to guide them and explain the difference. Real Estate takes guidance and a whole lot of patience.
Which brings me to my final point. We can all say we had a teacher or mentor we remembered who love what he/she taught. I was lucky enough to have several and Todd was one of them, who understands Real Estate and how rewarding it can be. What I'm trying to explain is that if Real Estate as with anything will take time. I live in the Buffalo and Rochester areas, I work with Buyers and Investors who want returns on real estate. I WON'T be afraid to tell you if a neighborhood is shit to invest in and WON'T bite my tongue.
I'm available to speak with anytime- firstname.lastname@example.org
BTW I use to be an insurance agent also- Foremost is one of the best when dealing with Tenant Investment properties. They're are other companies like Allegany who is good as well.
Darrin Alker from Fareham on November 05, 2013:
(Help with Insurance Cover Needed)
Its been a while since I last commented on here and I wonder if anyone is still reading these. It seams some on here have had a positive outcome, which is good to hear. I still have property in Rochester which has finally made a little profit, however I've just had the House Insurance bill in and its gone up by a $100 to $639. This seams a lot for even a buy to let at these values. And I m told that 'Foremost' is the only company that will insure foreign investors, so they have no competition and can ask what they want. can any one recommend an Insurance company that will cover our needs?
Reply here or email me if you can help please,
Some on here has suggested getting a contact point to help those with similar problems, for which I would be up for. Perhaps a Forum of sorts could be set up, there plenty out there for various car clubs and associations ect that could be used as a templet for. maybe there's one already set up that I don't know about.
sai99 on August 11, 2013:
I have bought several properties through Colossal in Buffalo and Rochester.
Do not buy from Colossal or use Ricole, CEM, Key as property management companies. Only use management companies that you have researched and are totally trustworthy.
They will put bad tenants in that will cost you money in eviction fees, unpaid rents. They will create so many repair issues in your units that (and use contractors that they own or are owned by their relatives) to do the work while charging your a mark-up to supervise the work that is being do by their them, their friends or relatives.
The repair work will be "shoddy" so that will have to be redone and they can charge you more. You will never make money on these properties between the realtors, lawyers , insurance brokers and property management companies (all of whom know each other and pass work along to each other).
To make money, you have to get in control of your properties and fire your property managers that are taking advantage of you. I learnt this lesson the hard way after losing money and spending thousands on repairs.
Don't expect 20% returns, that is not possible. Colossal and these companies don't tell you that these units will never be rented full time, they units are in low income (rough) neighbourhoods, tenants don't pay, you have to evict them which costs money, you have repairs almost every month, you have Section 8 (government inspections for people who are on low income and on government assistance) repairs almost every 6 months, you have city taxes, county taxes, sewer bills, water bills, lawn cutting , snow removal, user fees, etc.
If anyone has had problems with Colossal and wants to pursue some sort of legal action against them, please contact me as I have already contacted a lawyer about doing the same.
Feel like a fool on April 19, 2013:
Well, I have finally sold my triplex in Buffalo, relatively pain free. I lost around $7k in total over the 18 months or so I had the property. A long way off the promised high returns, but I reckon I got off quite lightly. I would never buy a property through Martin Brennan again and I wish I never had. I sold it through Todd Verderlip (above) real estate agent and Mikienis & Mikienis PC attourney. Both were excellent. Good luck to the rest of you with your properties, I hope it turns OK . . . .
Sniper2007 on March 25, 2013:
Hi all, I, like someof you have had a nightmare with properties in Rochester which we brought via Steve Garrott at Colossal, 1st agent was Bill Dean from County Wide (never got a cent of him), second was Michelle Sweetland from Ricole Property Management (not much better). Eventually moved to CEM properties who seem so much better when compared to the first two.
Is anyone working on anything that would allow us to take action e.g. via the Better Business Bureau (if Rochester has one) or set up a name and shame website, doing something in one of the UK "Nationals" e.g. Daily Express etc. etc.
If enough people got together with evidence perhaps the Police would be interestedor we could have a civil action for damages if the UK law is as useless as it normally is.
Feel like a fool on February 09, 2013:
I've now decided to sell my Buffalo property and I'm using Todd Vanderlip (see above post). Will let you know how it goes . .
rugbyd on February 06, 2013:
Many of these posts resonate with our own experience of owning a property in Rochester. We have had significant issues with our management company. Would anybody be able to recommend a decent, and most importantly trustworthy, management company in Rochester?
We would be most grateful for any tips!
Todd Vanderlip on December 28, 2012:
Please contact me at email@example.com. I can assist you with your quad.
Chris on December 12, 2012:
Thanks Charles. I appreciate where you are coming from and wish you every success in selling the quad. I will let you know if we have any joy!
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on December 09, 2012:
Chris, until someone helps me sell my quad and end my nightmare I can add nothing to the advice already on this page, sorry.
Chris Knight on November 22, 2012:
Hi Charles, I have only just found your page but am very interested in it. As I have already mentioned, I have an elderly friend who was silly enough (?!) to purchase 13 units in Buffalo from Colossal and is now finding the load unbearable as he is getting nothing from them and having to pay out through the nose for all manner of things. You have far more experience in this field than I or he, so do you know of any pressure groups that are working against these guys, or do you have any advice he might be able to follow? He hsa asked colossal to sell his units, but all they do is demand thousands for the property information packs and then do nothing. He really needs help! Many thanks for any advice you can give!
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on November 21, 2012:
Is there any Buffalo property sales agent able to help me sell my quad? Other owners also have contacted me about selling. Please contact me via this page.
Chris Knight on November 21, 2012:
Hi there - a message for Paul Kent and others. I have an old friend who wants to get in touch with people who have experienced problems with Colossal Proprty Investment. He has had real problems and wants to see if any pressure can be brought to bear on the company. If you are still in touch with this site, please drop down a line. Thanks!
Feel like a fool on November 09, 2012:
Well, it looks like I spoke a bit too soon re: my earlier post. Just been told property needs a new roof - god knows how much that's going to cost... unbelievable :-(
chris on November 02, 2012:
Excellent comments. Does anyone know if there is any organisation working to stop companies like Colossal? I know someone who has around 15 properties registered with them - I can't believe they let themselves get in so deep, but their cists are frightening and they just can't offload the properties - at any price it seems!! I said I would look into it for him - anybody got any advice on how to get out of these things?
Feel like a fool on October 23, 2012:
Daz mans Property - I hear you!! And this message is for you and anyone having problems...
With my property in Buffalo, I have to say that in the last 4 months I have actually received some income from it. Like you I was told I could open a Citibank $ account and the rent would be transferred each month - but like you, management co said they couldn't transfer $ out of the USA. So now I get a cheque each month which is a bit of a pain as it costs me £8 to pay a $ cheque into my LloydsTSB account AND the exchange rate is poor.
However, like I said, the rent is arriving now but it took almost 9 months - my fingers are well and truly crossed that this continues ... Feel free to make contact if you want. I hope it works out for you..
Darrin Alker from Fareham on October 05, 2012:
Hi Charle S. Thank you for taking the time to tell us your story, its a real eye opener. And its also good to know I am not alone with this and have wondering just how many others are in a similar situation. I am happy for you to hear things have turned around for you, so it's not a total loss.
I to bought a property Sep 11. Boy I wish I d found this page first. I bought my property in Rochester, New York State, through Martin Brennan. I would be keen to hear from 'Feel like a fool' and any others who have had similar dealings, including with the management company' Lighthouse properties'
I did do my homework, so I thought, and researched several agents over the course of 2 to 3 yrs. He seamed to be holding his own and was very convincing. I would loved to have gone over there 1st but a career change did not allow me the time to do so.
I should have seen this coming as no sooner had I completed I ended up with a bill of $500 for a sec 8 inspection. Something that should have been done prior to completion. Then came the maintenance bills, which clearly I was being over charged for and the Management company kept telling me the tenant was demanding and a pain in the bum. $150 to fit 2 door draft excluders that cost $10 each and a 10 minute job to fit. I've even been charged $85 call out fee as the tenant had locked themselves out, and it goes on into the $100s. I did challenge the management company over the excessive charges and have been lucky enough to have a couple months free of maintenance charges and have managed to receive some income. So at least I have had some money back for my investment. However they are now back into the $1000's and rising so will soon wipe out any profits I have so far made. It was strange how the management comp was happy to hold to my funds, acting as the bank, as I was unable to get a US bank account as I was not a US resident. This was also something I was told I would have no problem in getting.
The management company was kind enough to take some recent photos for me, esp of the work needing doing. And I must say it does not look like the same house I bought last year, hay maybe it isn't... Martin has vanished leaving a now out of date web page running as I did try to contact him for help earlier this year, thinking at the time that he might at least offer advice. How wrong was I!! As for the management company, I get constant excuses for there actions or lack of, that's when they do get round to answering my questions and queries. I am now looking for a replacement and would be grateful if anyone could recommend one to cover Rochester.
I still feel there is money to be made in this sector, but is knowing who you can trust, and just maybe getting together like this and making a stand we could just do that.
alan f on September 30, 2012:
The USA has the great advantage that, before purchase, you can check any house you're looking to buy on Zillow and Trulia - you can get an estimate of its value (the house you bought - looks like you paid double its market value!) And get a valuation.
There are good high yield houses in Buffalo, but you must a. pay the right price and b.make sure you have a good property manager.
A quick trip to meet all the people, and a request for references from any existing customers of the broker, will perhaps save a lot of money.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on August 18, 2012:
MJC - I've already acknowledged making a (big) mistake getting involved in overseas property and won't be doing it again. I'm still trying to get out. So your advice is wasted on me but it might help others. Thanks!
MJC on August 18, 2012:
There will always be scams and scammers out there. I look at around 25 properties a year in the USA and buy about two. You HAVE to do your own due diligence and thanks to the internet there is no excuse not to.
Take a virtual walk down the street in google street view and look at the condition of the surrounding properties, the condition of the road, the kind of cars parked there.
Get onto zillow.com and look up the prices and rental yields for that street.
Do a google search for a Real Estate agent in the town the property is in and search for it, take a look at what the realtor ad says about it. Heck sometimes you can just type the address in google and if its advertised for sale you can get a hit on the realtors site.
Google "crime statistics" + "(insert name of town)"
Look up the the mayors office and make a £10 phone call, tell them you are considering an offer on the property and ask them
- are there any back taxes owing?
- does it have a valid certificate of occupancy?
None of this is difficult, all of it is essential. Just because there is a broker involved does not absolve you of your responsibility to look after your money. After all, its YOUR money - right?
monicamelendez from Salt Lake City on July 26, 2012:
Wow so sorry to hear about your situation. Thanks for posting this - I bet it will help a lot of people to avoid a similar fate.
Hello all on June 12, 2012:
I have a prive facebook forum for anyone that has purchased properties either through brennan properties, or American dream Investments in the city of Syracuse. We are considering taking action against the local firm A&M properties, anyone wanting to be added to the private group which is only for property owners, please state your name, your property address and send a friends request to firstname.lastname@example.org via facebook. The private group is on facebook.
mark on June 06, 2012:
why on earth did you not fly to buffalo the first time? ok, if not the first time, then the second time? seems like you were asking to get ripped off
Rich on June 03, 2012:
Charles- i feel for you! Thanks for the heads up on scams, you have put me off big time!
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 30, 2012:
Ann B, please email me via the "contact" link top right of this page. Obviously I need more help than I thought! Thanks for letting me know. I don't know what else to do. I just want out.
Ann B. on May 30, 2012:
I hate to tell you, but as the owner/occupier of a home on Duerstein, the property you own here is know as the "Animal House". Some of your tenents are known drug dealers, and one was arrested just this morning. Does your management company ever inform you of how often the police are at this property, or send you pictures of the junk on the porches? This scam has not only put you in a financial hole, but has affected the quality of life , and lowered the value of surrounding properties as well.
Thank you Ajay Ahuja !
owen dale on May 13, 2012:
feel like a fool... your not I have talked with other who have invested with the same companies. It is so upsetting and as the usa based agent has said above its a dog eat dog nasty business..Now my story is almost as unbelievable ..
2003 .. a mate gets uk based advice and a FREE?? lol trip for his property investment in Florida.. I go for the 4 day trip...find out how much the uk based company makes and feel physically sick...
2005 fly over to florida to get a realtor license and make sure UK based people get a better deal..
bought my own investment in 2006 in georgia.. still ok in 2012... thats as positive as it gets .. I have not sold a single property since 2008 , and I could scream in sheer frustration when at every property show since 2006 I have been able to look up via the Florida MLS real prices. and the biggest price difference i have seen is $124'000 YES THATS RIGHT if your a uk based investor the wonderful deal just a little more expensive. That was not a well known scam company but one still doing well today and is a UK award winner for its honesty !!!! now no matter what i do or print out or promote I still can not serve UK based investors? they refuse to trust me. please please please Can someone tell me where i am going wrong ? It has cost me in excees of £24000 to remain a fully licensed realtor since 2005 and i have just paid again , but its coming to an end as my license runs our sept 2013 and without any clients its a pointless exercise.. I just wish just one person would give us half a chance...so if anyone should feel foolish or stupid ITS me... I thought people would use a uk based realtor and understand the ethics and feel 100% trust in the complete service .. how wrong I was...mind you usalocations.com will still carry on.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 11, 2012:
Feel like a fool - welcome to the club! Thanks for sharing. At least you're now helping to warn others.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 11, 2012:
Philipa - there may be many with positive landlord experiences in the USA. I don't personally know of any. My own rental property experience in Australia (prior to my USA investment) was excellent.
Feel like a fool .. on May 10, 2012:
Hi - I've read these posts with interest and wish I'd seen them last year!
I bought a property in Buffalo last September through Martin Brennan and Dollar Property Investments. Promised high yields of £400 net per month and fully tenanted property in good condition - was simply not true. Have not received any rental income whatsoever, zero, my management company (sourced by Brennan) simply sends me a monthly invoice for repairs. At the moment I 'owe' them over $1000!! It's a long story like everyone's I suppose, but do I ever feel like an idiot??
Philipa on May 04, 2012:
Thank you for your created hub page. I was looking on google for experiences from people that had bought US property using this property manager sell agents (like colossal property) because i kept receiving some emails from a company named American Dream Investments showing real good property rentals deals with 30% return.
Obviously it seems too good to be true.
Do you know anyone that had positive experiences buying properties from these property investment companies? Are they all scams???
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 04, 2012:
Todd V - Thanks very much for your comment, much appreciated. I'll definitely get in touch if/when I need some advice, thanks!
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on April 22, 2012:
Hello Kimr01 - so Ajay and his Ahuja Group are still doing the wrong thing? What is it going to take to stop them! I do hope you can get back your money one day!
Meanwhile write to me and I can add you to our mailing list of about 50 other people complaining about Ajay.
Todd Vanderlip on March 30, 2012:
As a licensed associate real estate broker in Buffalo New York I would like to apologize for all the negative experiences. Location is key in our City. If any one would like my professional advice please visit me at The-Granato-Group.com This site will give you comps in the areas of choice as well as other important information.
I had a brief experience with Ajay Ahuja but was turned off very quickly. Again as a Buffaloian I apologize.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on December 13, 2011:
Hi Matt - yes, MPG has been great since taking over my quad last year. They put in 4 good tenants so I'm no longer out of pocket. It's paying for itself - maintenance, new furnaces, roof repairs, etc. The money's going back in because I'm upgrading it for sale.
Matt on December 12, 2011:
Sorry to heard about the problems you've had. My Buffalo experience (not sourced via Ajay or managed by WNY4RENT) haven't been much better.
Are you still finding mpgproperties.com ok? How long have things been working ok with them for? And, if it's not too personal a question, are you making money from the properties now under the new management?
kapid on December 08, 2011:
can you let me have details of management company you use now.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on November 19, 2011:
Hi Garth - wish I'd had your expert advice prior to my USA property experience but meanwhile it'll help other readers of this page ;-)
Why did I jump into #2 property when #1 failed? Hey, if Edison had stopped with his first mistake then we would have waited longer for electric lighting! Was he stupid to keep trying -and failing - so many times? (thousands!)
(With hindsight) you are right and I was wrong. Others were even more wrong. One guy paid Ajay for ten properties. Where there are con-men there will be victims.
I may enjoy the last laugh. While Ajay becomes more and more answerable to the courts that 2nd property, a quad, now in the hands of sane management, has turned around with 4 great tenants for the past year.
Garth Wilson on November 18, 2011:
I have sympathy for you. I do. I am a real estate investor and it's a dog-eat-dog environment. It's not really something you can 'just jump into'. I wish you'd done more research, then you'd have found someone like me (who lives in the states), does international investment, and would be happy to help a fellow landlord... gratis! It's always a HUGE clue when an investor stops investing and begins to sell leads or starts the seminar circuits. That means that deals are thin on the ground and BUYER BEWARE. What confuses me more is how the first one didn't work out great... so... what you jumped into #2? Really. Please be careful, the deal you scrounge out of a dirty little hole will be the best one for you. The deal offered up on a silver platter will bankrupt u.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 29, 2011:
Hey John - just caught up with your entry. What you could do is put YOUR email address in another comment here and invite people to correspond.
Or, better yet, join HubPages - it's free - and put up your own page/s like mine. See my profile for more...
john on April 11, 2011:
Hey Paul Kent,
I too purchased property from colossal and have key property consulting inc managing my property.
they have requested payment for services unjustified and are continuing to log work requests.
I have told them to stop any form of work or proceed with any unless i get specific details and unless they get my consent.
Is there anything I can do please advise?
do you guys have personal email addresses so we can discuss further?
Mike on February 01, 2011:
I keep receiving emails about investing in the USA property market, mainly section 8 rentals and land contracts. But the yields looked a bit too good to be true?
I looked around, found your web site. Thank goodness. Horrible experience for you, but a real warning for me! The only way I'd invest now is by going over there and checking everything and everyone out. Time consuming, but it seems to be the safest route.
OwenDale on January 05, 2011:
Hi again , i have linked to this hubpage and enjoy some of the comments the advice from Todd above is so true.. I wish more UK based investors would do more research, and avoid being ripped off. The thning that really bugs me is the extra costs , and fees added by uk so called usa experts?. one quote i have had by one is " how else are we to make money?" How about get licensed and take time and pride to provide a better fully qualified service. ie put the client first for a change not greed... I WISH.
Mind you charles you have made some nice comments and I thank you for them I am now pushing my message a lot more and getting in touch a lot more. I hope i can help a few people enjoy their USA investments instead of having a nightmare.
Best regards to all
shauna on December 14, 2010:
I was thinking of investing in a company called colossal properties buying in Buffalo, when I thought I would Google the company and came across these comments, thank you Paul, and Charles.You have helped me with my decision not to buy.
I also was about to purchase property from Ajay too, but again so pleased I came across these comments. I thank you all.
Are there no companies out there that are honest and trustworthy?
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on December 06, 2010:
Paul Kent on December 05, 2010:
What's the name of the Company in Buffallo who managed your properties. Your story sounds so similar to mine, even down to the cost of grass-cutting in the Summer!
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on November 23, 2010:
Hi Tom - now that I've changed management (see part II) things are turned around. Under Ajay's preferred 3rd party management losses far outweighed profits, every problem became a bigger problem, we were foreclosed for a bill we didn't even know existed.
If I put everything on this page it'd be too long and too depressing. In the end it was hard to sell because tenants - section 8 or not, I don't know - were refusing entry to viewers, and the 2nd property received a drug violation. Which is still in place.
Tom T on November 22, 2010:
Sorry to hear what you have been through. This made me think twice before investing in US property.
I wonder why you have to evict Section 8 tenants. Wouldn't it be that the rent from Section 8 tenants comes directly to your account from the US government? and Section 8 tenants tend to protect your property because if something go wrong and the tenants damage your property, they may lose their Section 8 status, be wiped out of the Section 8 book, and can never get help through this section 8 again?
I read that you eventually have to evict these Section 8 tenants?
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on November 22, 2010:
Todd, you are so right - thanks for your comment! My situation has in fact improved simply because of new management. You can read more at my update page -
Todd Brittingham on November 21, 2010:
Stories like yours truly make me cringe, as it makes it very difficult for others like myself who are interested in truly helping out of town and international investors find and purchase profitable real estate investments in the United States.
The only advice I can offer to investors is that you should fully research the company you are working with before deciding to engage with them on a deal. For your first deal, I would strongly suggest traveling to personally meet with the company you are planning to invest with and also review some of the potential properties. A lot can be learned with such a meeting. I do understand that the travel required is time consuming and costly, but the question I always pose to investors, is that if they are willing to place an investment of $50,000 in purchasing a property, is it worth the cost of a plane ticket and hotel to come and do some first hand inspections?
You see, the key to investing successfully in US property is not finding the right property. The key is finding the right people that you can trust to manage your investments as if they were their own. If you find this, you will be successful as an international investor.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on November 17, 2010:
Hi Dirk218 - you are so, so right about honesty and competency!
Thanks for the offer, etc. Your site looks fine and I'll leave your link there for the time being ;-)
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on November 16, 2010:
Jason - found your site, very nice! Watched some videos, etc. and was very impressed with your professionalism.
At this point my partner would never let me get involved in real estate again. But if I did, then it would be with you ;-)
I'm doing a followup "nightmare" page and - even though you didn't ask - will include a link to your site. Thanks for dropping by!
jason Simpson on November 15, 2010:
I underastand your issues I hear them all the time from Australian investors taken for a ride too through hyped up seminars around the country. You need accountability, support and ethics which is something very hard to find in this business.
If you ever feel you can trust someone to work on your behalf again look me up cash flow gold.
Best of luck and be sure to have learned that makes it a little easier to recover.
Dirk218 on October 30, 2010:
Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with U.S. Real Estate. Your experience is not because you are from out of the country, I am a Realtor and a Loan Officer in San Diego and have had problems with properties I own in other cities. The issue is just finding honest competent services. I have plenty of experience and as far as reputable I am licensed in California under the Department of Real Estate as well as a member of the National Association of Realtors. I am also licensed to originate loans in California as well as registered in the National mortgage licensing system. I know your experience has put a sour taste in your mouth for overseas investing, however if you are interested in quality investments in San Diego California maybe trying a joint venture with me or other of my local investors would help ease your anxiety. In this way myself or a local investor would have half ownership and half the liability. We would have every interest in making the investment profitable. Please take a look at my website http://dirkcahaan1.point2agent.com
It is geared towards owner occupant owners. However it gives a good look at San Diego.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on August 26, 2010:
Hey Sydney sider - fair comment, but inaccurate. Firstly, Ahuja is not a player. He is a predator. He creates victims. This is obvious to judges which is why he loses all his court cases.
In Australia I made enough money through property to retire at age 50. I experienced only honest property management and sales. I expected Ahuja to be the same, and he wasn't. I believed what he said and found out too late that he was lying.
I've paid very dearly for being too trusting, not just in dollars. One of his other victims mentioned suicide, financial stress being a major reason for suicide.
If you want to side with Ahuja why not put your money where your mouth is and go buy some property through him?
Sydney sider !!! on August 26, 2010:
Mate you cant always blame the player !!! some times you have to blame the game. Take ownership of not doing your homework before investing into any properties. Although Im sure you have done a great job to run his name in the mud and warn people about him (and surely enough he deserves it). Good on ya !! I was just wondering, since your first property went down the drain, why would you invest in the second (and also trusting him completely ????)
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on July 29, 2010:
Owen - I just visited your website. You said you don't want free advertising but I have added a link to your website anyway, because for sure people should be dealing with people like yourself - definitely not Ajay Ahuja types.
You're not permitted to "copy" from a hubpage because that causes "duplicate content", gets noticed by the search engines, violates terms of service, etc.
But for sure just type "... read this guy's story about how he was ripped off by a UK scammer agent..." or something like that, and then just link it to this page, okay?
You know, I would not have minded "overpaying" (even to Ahuja) IF, IF, IF, IF, I had made ANY profit at ALL from my US properties! Years later I am $50,000 down and STILL paying insurance, taxes, bills, fees, etc. out of my own pocket PLUS damage & repairs from tenants who don't pay rent and have to be legally evicted, costing even MORE money from my pocket!!!
Owen Dale on July 28, 2010:
hi I do have a US website and I am probably the only UK based Fully paid up REALTOR... I have pulled my hair out since 2003 over UK based scum scams and they still smile and print glossy Bull for the property shows and it turns my stomach.. One quote i will give is from a London Property show in 2009
I showed my deals and a guy said to me " I know I will overpay but I will still be making money" I nearly gave up hope there and then.. I have only been involved with 2 sales in the last 2 years !! Yet others companies set up and make a real killing.. Its just a good job that I do not make living selling porperty , perhaps I am trying to be to honest and trustworthy with people and put others first and in this day and age its a bit unreal... Sorry to read your story but could you please let me copy it and put it onto my website with names removed etc..
email me at email@example.com
I have not put my property website address down as I do not want any Free ad
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on June 30, 2010:
Hi Paul - Thanks a lot for the info. I look forward to further updates from you. I see that Mr Ahmad is now worried about his purchase of a property with Colossal Property...
S Ahmad on June 21, 2010:
I have bought a property thru colossal property of Spain and having read all the above, I am now quaking in my boots.
Paul Kent on June 18, 2010:
I purchased a couple of similar properties in Buffalo through a Company called Colossal Property Investments S.C (www.colossalpropertyinvestments.com). The Company is run from Spain by a guy called Steve Garrott & his wife.
The problems that you have described with your purchase, Charles is almost identical to the problems that I have had.
I have actually visited my properties in Buffalo. They are situated in an extremely rough part of the City. Many properties are delapedated or boarded up. I have lost £1000's. I will report further on this site with details in due course.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on May 17, 2010:
Hi Wayne -
Thanks for the empathy! It's much appreciated while I remain stuck in the nightmare until I sell the 2nd US property.
If my hubpage prevents just one person from trusting Ajay Ahuja then it has been worthwhile. Apparently this page is having an effect because there has been an attempt to shut it down recently.
Thanks again, and good luck to you too!
wayne nelson on May 16, 2010:
So sorry to hear about your nightmare experiences.
I have been a member of ajay for some time now and have been considering buying property in the U.S. through his company.
For some unknown reason he no longer lists property for sale in the U.S.
After reading your unfortunate story ,I cant help but think this may have something to do with it.
I have also been involved with other U.S. property sourcers, and some of their deals seem too good to be true. After reading your story,they prob are too good to be true.
I dont think Ill be investing in the U.S. now that I know the reality of some of the deals.
kimr01 on May 03, 2010:
Found and experienced that Ajay Ahuja group does business in a way of unethical. Be careful to invest with this guy's company!
I wasted a membership fee of £300 more. Stopped maintain business after I found this company is doig business with sneaky and crooked way.
London Flats on March 29, 2010:
O my god I have heard of this guy - what a total bast*rd!! I do hope the police get him and lock him away for a very long time!!! Good Luck
John Standring on January 12, 2010:
Hi Charles S.
The police have been intouch today.
Have you seen the web site action fraud which reports directly to the police. They will also give you a crime number so seem to be taking it seriously. The police have been in touch with me 3 times. They are starting to investigate Ahuja. Great stuff.
Can this site Action Fraud, be cascaded to all, and all other BTL and Landlord sites.
Regards John standring
moneyseeker3000 on November 07, 2009:
Thanks for the comment. It's always good to have a background knowledge of these investment gurus. It's great that you are sharing your experience so we can all learn from it. This is a very informative website.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on November 04, 2009:
Lynsey, thanks heaps for your input. It's significant that you have succeeded without Ajay. I too was successful until getting involved with Ajay, and so far I've only seen others lose after trusting him. Like that Hammersmith guy you just mentioned. I knew Ajay would remove that post so I copied it - it's going on my next anti-Ajay site! I don't know what it's going to take to stop him ripping people off. And re that BBC video (exposing his scam methods) he actually said "any publicity is good publicity".
Lynsey in London on November 03, 2009:
PS: I got to your site via Ajay's own forum in fact - but I see the post of 5pm (4 hours ago) by some other poor guy (who had lost £1,000's in Hammersmith & Fulham on council flats sourced by Ajay, which did not yield) is now removed. So is your own link Charles...Tut tut Ajay.
Lynsey on November 03, 2009:
I am a female London landlord having started the business 20 years ago after leaving Uni, and grown my portfolio single-handedly whilst raising a family. As a rule of thumb I personally feel an investor has to at least set eyes on a property and the vicinity and do plenty of one's own groundwork. In business never trust anyone implicitly, of course most people are in the deal for what they will personally get out and to a greater or lesser extent lies abound, so Ajay will be no different. I have always chuckled at Ajay's daily emails and comments, and have in fact had respect for his boldness in the past, but I see he has stuck his neck out just too far and he IS a cropper, though clearly it is sadly at the expensive of many of his hopeful punters. I get increasingly disillusioned by what I read about him and have all but lost the respect I once had in what he seemed to advocate. I have to say I have never been tempted to join up with his service...it was always very obvious to me you could not just pinpoint some ex local authority property on the edge of e.g. Glasgow, give it some jumped up "rental yield" and call it a good investment. Your website underlines specifics: vandalisation, poor quality tenants, lack of control due to distance. I am proud of my own portfolio, its yields and low voids, but it has been build on knowledge of the areas I invest in, and understanding of the tenant base, not in the hope that information provided by a 3rd party at considerable cost, will pan out for me. To me my own route was the only way to go. In fact I'm really starting to think I should make a few hundred thou' on the side by getting up on my soapbox and writing a book or two like several of these property guys of recent years. I would have a lot to say which has interestingly still not been published. But then I'm making a few hundred thou' without doing that, so why put myself to the trouble! lol. Most interesting site though and good luck with future projects.
Charles Russell Stockdale (author) from UK on October 18, 2009:
Hi Bail Up! - appreciate your comments and have now added to the hubpage his contract promising high yielding property. There was no yield - no tenants at all - on the 2nd property. Will check out that rental program - thanks.
Bail Up ! on October 17, 2009:
This is really unfortunate. While I don't doubt this guy might have been a crook, noone really expected the real estate market and economy to crash like it did. By 2008 we were already experiencing a downturn. You might want to find a different rental program like vacationrentals.com
It saved me.