Monday, 27 August 2007

Lost Pennies - Method of Apportionment Irregularities

The wonderful thing about going to conferences is you meet people of various inclinations and beliefs. Including those who believe strongly in conspiracy theories. In the course of an over-dinner conversation, one person pointed out that when banks round their 6 decimal point calculations, for every penny that gets rounded, banks stands to make millions. Nobody on the end-user side cares, but it happens, so sayeth the conspiracy theorist.

So I went back and picked 2 random CSAs with Method of Apportionment of the Sale Proceeds included. I entered those numbers into an excel sheet and let the program calculate automatically the apportionment and costs for each unit etc. From both CSAs, I found errors and discrepancies ranging from $58 to $6700 for units, and cumulatively variances in the range of thousands to tens of thousands. For example if the apportionment ratio (which typically is supposed to add to 1.0) falls under 1.0 by 0.000040 for a sale proceed of $800,000,000.00, you're talking about $32,000 which goes unaccounted for. And of course, calculations based on 6 decimal points will yield different sums from those based on 4 decimal points.

Since the method of apportionment gives clear costs for each unit, what happens to these 'lost pennies' as it were? Who keeps them? Does it go to the law firm (in which case the sum total cumulatively may be sufficient to buy a nice German engineered car)? Does it go to the SC for their efforts, to go into a Tung Lok seafood celebratory dinner? It most probably does not go back to owners since their proportion of the proceeds are calculated before hand.

What happens to the 'lost pennies'?

Try it out yourself. Anyone with some knowledge of spreadsheets (eg Excel) should be able to input the values from your Method of Apportionment (typically an appended Schedule of the CSA) and perform these calculations. Does it tally with what is printed in the CSA? If not, why not? If available, do the calculations for unit % apportionment (assuming you know the method of calculation for this value).

Moral of the story - sometimes the pages with the numbers don't necessarily tell the truth :)
Sub-moral of story - avoid conspiracy theorists during dinner time talk.


Anonymous said...

What's a few thousand or hundred dollars 'missing' compared to the millions you will be getting? Are you going to count your millions dollar by dollar?

Some people, greedy not enough, must be exact and greedy!

Anonymous said...

so you are saying you dont mind if the agent/ developer gives you less money than you should be getting for your enbloc, is that it? wah, so generous of you! then why not you divide out your share of your money with others too? since you dun want to be seen as greedy.

Anonymous said...

I think the point Dr Minority is trying to make is that for anyone going through enbloc, they need to be very very careful when signing the CSA. Don't be gullible and believe everything the agents/ SC say. Do NOT believe that the agents/ SC are looking out for the owners' interests. Comb thorugh the CSA very carefully!

It is appalling that the CSA, a legally binding document can have glaring errors like that. What are the agents and their lawyers doing?? Trying to hoodwink owners?? This only goes to show how much you CAN'T trust the agents/ SC.

SO owners who are pro-sale, give it a serious thought, are you giving away more than you realised?!


Karen said...

Interesting point. Thanks for raising this. It usually goes unnoticed because individual owners don't come together to add up what they have. I guess the lost money would either be with the lawyers or the agents, since the developer would have paid over a lump sum ?

Anonymous said...

If the stakeholding money is kept by the lawyer, how would the agent get hold of the lost pennies?