Property Investment Opportunities in Mongolia – Sheer Madness, or is it?

I attended recently a terribly smart cocktail party in a Belgravia Embassy. I hovered contentiously, as I usually do, near the bar and the exit of the kitchens.

As I reached discreetly for my 10th little foie gras toast in nearly so many seconds, I was addressed abruptly by a very distinguished but firm Lady in a large (and quite silly) hat.

She addressed me; chin up, with a chilly “now young man, what are you doing with yourself these days”.

Her question had the tone of a sarcastic demand full of contempt for a young man who wasted his life so well.

I recovered from the embarrassment of dropping the foie gras toast, and, only slightly put off, answered in my most polite voice that I was indeed selling flats in Mongolia.

My distinguished interlocutor visibly stiffened, in a sudden jerk, brought her handbag closer to her chest, and remained thus startled in a state fit for Madame Tussauds.

“It’s very exciting you know! Very interesting market out there.” Finally she declared, in utmost frustration in a barely controlled high pitched voice “MONGOLIA!! What on earth for!! Never heard such nonsense!!!” long pause… “I didn’t even know they had flats!”

With this declaration she did an abrupt about turn and went off muttering something to the likes of “silly little man, what gibberish, Mongolia…”

I was not in the least disturbed by this incident but instead found it rather amusing as this was not the first time I had a similar reaction, usually bewilderment.

Mongolia is not a country which people would associate with investments of any kind, neither did I until recently.

When I think of Mongolia the image of Genghis and his fierce warriors come to mind, I expect most people think alike.

I recently went there and was surprised, if slightly shocked, to find a country in a full economic expansion.

I had epic and romantic visions of proud horseman wondering around a city of tents; instead I was greeted by a large full scale soviet city complete with international restaurants, traffic lights and jams, bars and trendy nightclubs.

I enquired as to the reason for that incredible sight; here is what I learned:

In the past 18 months or so, Mongolia has enjoyed a kind of delayed post-Soviet boom, as years of gradual reform (and U.S. aid) finally begin to pay off. While other former satellites, including Ukraine and Belarus, never fully recovered from a post-Soviet economic depression, Mongolia has regained its Soviet-era income level ($500 per capita) and is not looking back.

The economy has grown at a rate of 10.6% for 2004 but is expected to stabilise around 8.5% for 2005. Mongolia cleared off its debt to Russia for assistance received during soviet times in 2003. Inflation is reducing every year and was only 5% in 2005 compared to the 53% seen in 1995 while its external debt is equally decreasing and has reached 1.1 billion USD. “Mongolia has made great progress towards its transition to a market based system since the early 1990’s” (IMF, letter of intent on Mongolia, 2003)

In 2004 large deposits of gold and other minerals such as copper, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, iron and ore were found; this is expected to create an incredible growth in the economy. A number of British and American Mining companies have moved in and will start extracting soon, this means a lot of foreign investment and a considerable expatriate community will develop from it.

Foreign investment is increasing every year and so are the numbers of tourists and expats. Political corruption is very low for the region and the government is stable and democratically elected.

Sadly the picture for the Mongolian economy is not all rosy, they export copper, apparel, livestock, animal products, cashmere, wool, hides, fluorspar, other nonferrous metals but everything else has to be imported. Unemployment is decreasing but is still at 6.7%. “This is a rough neighbourhood, with rough neighbours,” says a Western diplomat in Ulan Bator. “No former Soviet state has come so far, and no former communist country in Asia has shown as much commitment to reform as Mongolia.”

The Real Estate market is possibly the most interesting part of the economy. The numbers of apartments approved by the city has increased by about 20% every year for the past three and the rental yields are some of the highest in Asia at about 18%. It has been calculated that demand so far outstrips supply that it will not be equilibrated before 2015. There are an increasing amount of developers such as the American entrepreneur Mr Lee Cashell who make the most of this situation by developing large luxury residential projects in the heart of Ulaan Bataar as an investment opportunity for European Investors.

Mr Cashell has barely completed a very successful residential complex called the Park View Residence that he is already in Europe selling his new property to British investors and agents: the Regency Residence. This promises to be the most luxurious and attractive development in Mongolia.

What makes the Regency Residence so unique in Ulaanbaatar is that there are very few modern, new build apartment blocks. Especially ones built to a luxurious Western European standard. Other apartments in the city date back from the Soviet era and most could do with some serious renovation work. This makes new apartments like the ones at the Regency Residence extremely sought after, particularly as demand outstrips supply.

High interest cost, lack of investment capital and low equity financing is hampering the developer’s ability to build large scale luxury apartments and thus meet the large demand.

In the coming years it is expected that developer will be able to increase capacity and produce more apartments however the scarcity factor is expected to remain for years to come.

UB is one of the only cities in the world where half of its residents are not living in apartments as many citizens remain in the traditional dwellings in the hillside surrounding the city

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Use Regency For Your Gas Fireplace Insert Needs

Instead of letting your existing fireplace sit there because there is too much work with a real fire, then you should get a Gas Fireplace Insert installed in order to give you the heat that you want in the surrounding area as well as not having to worry about all the work involved. You can also turn down your thermostat during the times of evening when you are spending most of your time within the room where your fireplace is located. These units will save you a lot of money on your energy bill.

There are many manufacturers of the Gas Fireplace Insert units but none stand out like Regency. This company is very well trusted and has its name branded in many homes. They have several models that are available depending on the size of the area that you will be wanting to heat. They have the Liberty gas inserts, Contemporary gas inserts, and energy gas inserts. The Liberty model L234 is the smaller model that is used best in a smaller area. It can fit right into your existing steel fireplace box. All of these inserts can be fueled by either propane or natural gas and have different styles to choose from.

The L234 has a btu capability of 23,500. It has an efficiency rating of 74 percent, which is the standard. There are also the gas Fireplace Insert units that also have a btu rating of 23,500 but due to their medium size, they are rated at 77 percent efficient. They have features such as dancing flames that will give a realistic look of an actual fire as well as a choice of different accent finishes. These finishes consist of gold, black, and brushed steel. Their model numbers are E21, E33, U31, and U32.

These Gas Fireplace Insert units have a capability of between 15,000 btu’s and 30,000 btu’s which can make them up to 75 percent efficient. There is also the larger E33 which is best used for larger areas that you would like to heat. It has the best efficiency rating at 84 percent and has the capability of 38,000 btu’s. These model insert units also give the consumer choices of designing their insert with different louvers, doors, and faceplates, as well as brick panels. You can make your insert flow with the decor of the room that it will be located in. You not only save energy and receive the comfortable heat that you want, but you can also create a very beautiful ambient atmosphere at the same time.

Regency England Offers Romance Novel with Christian Values

Reader Views interviews Linore Rose Burkard, author of “Before the Season Ends.”

Today Reader Views has the pleasure of interviewing Linore Rose Burkard, author of a Regency England Christian romance novel, “Before the Season Ends.” Welcome Linore.

Irene: What inspired you to write “Before the Season Ends”?

Linore: I wanted to read a Regency romance that was Inspirational. Period. I waited for years for someone else to write it, and then I realized that if it was ever going to happen, it was going to be my job! So I did it. I combined the Regency, which I love, with an Inspirational message. I wanted to show the experience of faith for the adventure that it is. Fun and faith are not contradictory terms!

In addition, as a fan of Georgette Heyer, I wanted to see more books like hers; in the sense of moving away from the formulaic plots that have gotten all too common in the genre. As terrible as this sounds, I thought I could bring more “reality” into both the characters and the setting, than what you often get in a lot of the mass paperbacks that are out there. I’m not saying that what’s out there is bad, just that I wanted to be different.

Irene: What do you mean by “formulaic plots”?

Linore: I mean the type of plot where you know what you’re getting by the time you finish chapter one. Perhaps some people like that; I prefer more of a set-up, where the characters get to be real people and they do things in character– not just to drive the plot.

Irene: This book is considered “Christian Fiction.” What is the difference between Christian fiction and other fiction?

Linore: Christian fiction begins with a Christian world view. Not every character has to share that world view, and usually many don’t; but the author has to have it, and it has to come through.

Irene: “Before the Season Ends” is Regency romance. Please explain to the reading audience what that means.

Linore: The Regency in England (1811-1820, politically), was the period when the prince of Wales became regent in place of his father, George III (who was believed to be insane. He wasn’t, but that’s for a different interview!) Jane Austen and Lord Byron are Regency figures; Beau Brummell, Princess Caroline; Napoleon and Wellington; lots of great historical characters! Austen, in my opinion, started the genre with her novels, and Georgette Heyer developed it further and popularized it, perhaps even defined it.

So, as well as being set in that time period, a Regency has many earmarks that are unique to the genre and which must be evident in the story, such as a lot of the language and places that are used. In general, though, a reader can expect that a Regency will be fun, and clean, as far as the romance goes. Regencies are known for being fun, even to the point of wacky fun, and yet still romantic and memorable.

Irene: Why do you believe Regency romance novels are so popular?

Linore: People know they are not picking up “War and Peace” when they go to read one. The Regency, as I said, is enormous fun; the hypocrisy of the social order and its values is just a springboard for all kinds of settings and situations that romance writers can use in really enjoyable ways to create good stories. At the same time, there’s a great deal of improbability in many Regencies which is (in my opinion) a problem of the publishing houses. Editors want to see a handful of formula plots and that’s it. So the Regency genre as a whole has suffered. But they’re still popular because the era is incredibly interesting, the romance is cleaner (which reminds me, too many modern editors don’t realize that we readers LIKE to use our imaginations, thank you). And the stories center mostly around the upper classes, people who get to live the way we all WISH we could. So that is fun, too.

Irene: Writers of novels don’t cease to amaze me. Your imagination must run rampant at all times in order to create a plot that keeps the reader wanting to flip pages. Give us a little insight on how you do this.

Linore: I guess you hit the nail on the head with the word, “imagination.” When I was a kid I was always imagining horrible things that could happen. It was very real to me and I was always scaring myself silly!(laughs) I finally figured out that I could harness the power of my imagination in good ways, too; I could use it in fun ways. This was a major turning point for me! I think all writers have to ask themselves questions, like, “What if this or that happened?” Sometimes I want something to happen and I have to ask the question, “What would have to happen first, in order to bring out this or that response in a character? Or, under what kind of situation would this character be forced to do this, that, or the other thing? (that I want them to do)

I mean, in a romance, for instance, you’ve got to find a way to bring your characters together, but not so much together that the book is over! You need to create a sort of tension, too, which is what (I think) keeps the reader turning pages. We all want to know, how is this going to work out? The bottom line in all fiction is that there are questions the reader is asking and in order to get them answered they have to keep reading.

Irene: How do you anticipate what the reader would be asking?

Linore: Questions are almost unavoidable in any situation; they just arise. For example: Something happens–so the reader wants to know: what’s going to happen, now? Or,a common question is, If they don’t like each other with good reason, how are they going to solve their differences? The key in plotting is giving the reader some information, moving the story forward, but without revealing the end too soon. As soon as you answer all the questions, the story’s over.

Irene: Sometimes the plot is so standard that in the end I think “Well, that was a given.” How do you come with a plot that isn’t predicable in the end?

Linore: Actually, knowing the end is sometimes okay, as long as you can keep your readers guessing about HOW the characters are going to get there. Romance readers WANT a happy ending, but if you’ve got the whole thing figured out way before the end, where’s the fun in that? It’s okay for them to say, “Well, I just KNOW these two are going to end up together, but I’ve got to see how it happens!” That’s fine. That’s great. But the final getting together should be really satisfying; It makes all that guessing, all the twists and turns, worth every page. But hey, there’s an art to doing this right. You don’t want to overly frustrate your reader or give them too much, too soon. It’s a fine line of a balance.

Irene: How did you come up with the characters? Are they modeled after people you know?

Linore: My characters are amalgamations of anyone and everyone I know! Of course, there’s a great deal of ME in some of them, I don’t think any author can completely avoid putting themselves into at least some (if not all) of the characters. But I couldn’t say this or that character was modeled after so and so, except for perhaps one of them.

Irene: Is there any part of the book that reflects your own experience?

Linore: In a concrete sense? I think when Ariana feels like she’s in a strange city and quite alone it must have come from my experience. I lived alone for five years while I worked full-time and put myself through college, and at times I felt very, very isolated. But I did also discover that God answers prayers–sometimes in really strange, unexpected ways!–and Ariana discovers that, too.

Irene: Some people say they’ve read “Before the Season Ends” more than once. What do you believe inspires them to read it again, especially when they know the plot?

Linore: Again, I think it’s that sense of pure enjoyment. I read it myself many times–despite having the book up to my ears during editing!–and I guess I know the plot better than anyone! (laughs) But I still enjoy the story. Readers have told me they laughed out loud when reading it, (and some have said they cried) but I think it’s the sense of reality, that this could have really happened, combined with the safety net of the fun factor that brings people back more than once. Also perhaps the way the characters change so much from who they were at the beginning of the book, and who they are by the end. It happens kind of seamlessly, naturally, and yet little by little, like real life. There’s a charm in that. Another way of looking at it is to say it’s a “comfort” book. One of those books you can just curl up with for a while and feel better from reading. You know you’ll enjoy it and it won’t bring you down.

Irene: Do you think some readers resonate with the characters and become them – maybe in a fantasy sort of way?

Linore: Absolutely. That’s why we like pretty heroines we can admire; I think every reader of every book is vicariously living that book. But we must be able to understand their motivations. We also need to be able to recognize when they make mistakes, but still be rooting for them. If you have a really stupid heroine it will annoy the reader because you want her to be smart, like you, maybe even smarter. She’s got to show you what you could be; she represents possibilities, hopes and dreams. But if she’s too stupid or foolish you no longer want to identify with her and I think that would be a drawback.

Irene: So, what’s ahead? What are you planning on doing, next?

Linore: My first plan was to do, “The Debutante Series” which would have featured entirely new characters in each book. Many, many readers told me they like a series that continues the story, though, so instead of the Debutantes, I’m doing “The Regency Light Chronicles” (Before the Season Ends is the first book in the Chronicles, even though the name, Regency Light Chronicles, doesn’t appear on the cover of this first edition). I have four or five more books to do in this series, and then I’ll probably get to the Debutante Series, because I’ve already started a number of them.

In the meantime, I’m also developing a series of presentations, each which will be about 45 minutes long, on the Regency. There’s this fabulous little tea house in my town, really elegant and pretty, and I envision having mother/daughter teas, or history buff teas there. I’m having a Regency costume made, and once it’s fitted to my satisfaction, I’ll be ready to begin the presentations. They’re going to be a LOT of fun!

I also have a new monthly eZine, Upon My Word! Facts, Fashion and Figures of the Regency which, for the time being, is free for anyone who signs up. (You can sign up at my website, People who subscribe now also receive a free download immediately.) The eZine is excellent for newbies (to the Regency) but even seasoned fans of the period enjoy it.

Finally, every so often (and this happened just last night!) I have to write something contemporary. I get this persistent scene in my head and one day it hits me that I’m not going to get rid of it until I write it out! So I do. I just wrote a totally unexpected short story called “Secrets” which is completely unlike my Regency writing. I’ve also got files of other things I’ve begun and not finished, including a screenplay which I WILL complete some day! (Okay, God willing, I’ll complete it!) The question is, how am I ever going to finish everything that’s in my head?

But Book Two of the Regency Light Chronicles should be out by THIS spring–so watch for it! (I don’t have the title for it, yet, but it will have the series name, Regency Light Chronicles, Volume II or Book II).