I’m considering Mercan and this is going to sound extremely paranoid - How do I know the person i’ve been emailing with is from Mercan? My process started with the site withPortugal.com that comes up when you look for Mercan and that seems like a lead generation site. The person who spoke to me from Mercan via Zoom has a LinkedIn profile that checks out (and photo is the same as the person I met on Zoom) but domain name doesn’t say mercanproperties.pt . Can someone let me know the email domain name used by Portugal employees of Mercan?
Not paranoid at all. Similar scams have taken place for lot smaller amounts.
I recently started the process via Henley lawyers. The person they introduced me at Mercan had the domain “mercan.pt”.
That matches up! Thank you for the quick response.
Hi Adita, I have invested with Mercan and the staff I communicated with have mercan.com and mercan.pt email addresses.
Hi @hatem How was/is your experience with Mercan for the Portugal golden visa? I am brand new to all this, and they are one of the companies I am exploring with. Any advice or tips you have would be so helpful. I found your handle on the portugal ARI investor list and saw Mercan. thanks!
I invested with mercan about 10 months ago but got in contact with them through a consultant. Anyway the people i am interacting with in Mercan are kateryna Ilechko, (spelling may be wrong), David Fitas, Ones Costa Moura and Mafalda Luis. Hopefully they all are genuine. Mercan is a genuine company though
Btw are you in India and if so in which city
Hey @anthony.pinto12 - i’m in the US currently. Thank you for your answers. This helps a lot.
Im in bangalore. Cheers and all the best
Hello @Andrew77, You asked why I selected Mercan for Portugal Golden Visa (PGV) and how was my experience with them. This is a long story I spent almost a year evaluating different options. All options come with different pros, cons & risks. So, there is no single choice that will work for everyone. Here is my summary of Mercan’s pros & cons.
- Mercan offers lowest possible qualifying investments for PGV. This is the EUR280k real estate rehabilitation projects in underpopulated areas. There are other competitors, but Mercan is the only one that pays taxes on behalf of investor. Thus, they offer the lowest out-of-pocket qualifying investment.
- Mercan has a good reputation and solid track record with more than 50% of PGV real estate rehabilitation projects. They also have a handful of completed, operational projects.
- Mercan offers a hands-off route for PGV. Investor does not have to worry about executing the project, renting the property, maintaining it, or anything else. They take care of everything and they have their own law firm (IAS) that handholds investor and family throughout the process.
- Mercan sells investors a share in a property that they setup and operate as a hotel. So, investor does not own a stand-alone real estate property (e.g. apartment) that s/he can sell on the market when s/he needs/wants. It is very much a lock-in setup. You are stuck with them and can only sell your share to/through them.
- Mercan sets up every property as a separate company and investors make contracts with that company. Thus, your investment is exclusively dependent on the success on the particular property. If the property fails or does not achieve estimated revenues & profits, you will lose all or part of your investment.
- Mercan advertises that they offers a buy-back guarantee at the end of the PGV process. This is only marketing and is not contractually binding. Contracts for earlier properties included an annual small penalty they have to pay investor if they do not buy-back. Contracts for newer properties only include a one-off very small penalty if they do not.
- If you use their own law firm (IAS) it makes the PGV very smooth, but there is a conflict of interest. You should not assume that IAS will take your side if your interests and Mercan’s start deviating. Some investors choose to hire own lawyer to mitigate this risk and accept that this will make the PGV slower / less smooth.
My experience dealing with Mercan: They have a well established process for setting-up the investment and PGV application. In general the quality of service has been good so far. Note that I am still waiting for SEF’s pre-approval. So, I still have a long journey to go.
I hope you find this useful.
@hatem I hope you don’t mind a few more questions;
- What kind of documents did Mercan provide before you made the investment? All I have at this point is a PowerPoint deck.
- What kind of due diligence was possible? Did you do any research on the underlying property etc area?
- How is the investment structured? Is it a share in a private company? Is there any shareholder rights involved?
@adityar - I’ve been working for Mercan for the past 8 months or so. They should provide you the Investor Agreement, the project business plan, and estimated cost worksheet (as well as the powerpoint). Just ask for them
As mentioned by Tim, Mercan provides more than the PowerPoint marketing deck. When I became interested in one of their projects, they sent me three more documents: The business plan for the project; A spreadsheet cost calculator for the project; and a Return of funds strategy for the project.
For due diligence, I asked them for the full contracts for investing in the project and reviewed every clause. I also paid a visit to the location of the project. Unfortunately, by the time I travelled and visited the site that project was sold-out. So, I moved to another project and skipped the site visit. I only reviewed the contracts in detail.
The investment structure is not a share in a company. You pay for two parts. The first part is actually a purchase of a percentage of the old property before rehabilitation, for which you get a purchase deed. The second part is a payment to the company setup by Mercan to develop this property to cover your share of the cost of rehabilitation.
@Hatem, this is SO helpful. Few follow up questions if you don’t mind:
When you say “If the property fails or does not achieve estimated revenues & profits, you will lose all or part of your investment.” that is a big worry for us. How are you ensuring that your 280K doesn’t just disappear?
“If you use their own law firm (IAS) it makes the PGV very smooth, but there is a conflict of interest.” Did you use IAS, or did you hire your own lawyer? I am in the market for an advocate to protect our interests, not Mercan’s. And how much of a delay are you saying it adds to the process?
Investing is risky, regardless of where it is. You can lose money
Thank you @Andrew77
In response to your questions:
There is no way to guarantee that any investment will be successful. I used a few indicators to minimize my risk:
- I checked the location of the hotel property in which I invested and made sure it is in a location that attracts a lot of tourism (as a leading indicator of potential property success)
- I selected a property for which Mercan has an agreement with a major international hotel chain to operate under their brand. My rationale here is that such international hotel brands perform their due diligence and it is assuring to know the property has passed their criteria.
- Finally, the fact that Mercan has already delivered a few projects successfully provides some assurance that they are capable of delivering my project. And knowing that they make much more profit if the property is successful aligns their interests with mine (at least for now)
I chose to go with IAS without hiring an independent lawyer because of two reasons:
- I learned from discussions on another forum dedicated to Mercan investors that Mercan doesn’t tolerate any negotiation to make modifications to their standard contracts (this has been the experience of investors who hired independent lawyers). So, having an independent lawyer from day one would not give me a better starting position.
- The procedures executed by the lawyers in the first few years of your golden visa investment are purely bureaucratic. There is no potential for competing interests between Mercan and I during this period.
Having said that, I intend to hire an independent lawyer in a few years at the time of winding down my investment with Mercan (i.e. when I complete my golden visa process) because this is the point at which my interests and Mercan’s could deviate.
I think it’s important to be realistic about a GV investment in Portugal. Don’t invest the money if you can’t afford to lose ALL of it. To be fair, I don’t think the odds of a total loss are very high, but they’re also not zero. Even in the best case, you won’t have access to any of the money for probably 5-10 years. Mercan has a good track record so far of completing it’s projects and opening actual, functioning hotels. I stayed in one in Porto and it was delightful. Given that, I felt that the risk of investing in them was acceptable. In the end, if I come anywhere close to getting my full $280k back I will be thrilled. If I get $140k back I will be annoyed. If I get $0 back I will be angry and very disappointed. If losing the full $280k would seriously damage your ability to survive financially, I would STRONGLY encourage you to reconsider the wisdom of this path.
This is a thoughtful, thorough response–I, too, invested with Mercan and agree with you.