BY ABE J. SCHEAR / AJT //

A decade ago, when the real estate market in the U.S. was frothy and the country’s currency was much stronger, Israeli investors shunned most of America. They focused their investment dollars in and around New York.

Abe Schear

Abe Schear

Of course, this was all before Atlanta became know as an international city and Delta was offering daily flights between Atlanta and Tel Aviv. Thus, much has changed in the last 10 years.

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Eastern Europe, once an investment hotspot for Israelis and others, is now utterly fallow. The shekel has improved significantly against the dollar, and real estate pricing is now much more reasonable. Global investors are long on cash in an investment world that has grown smaller, and they’ve also begun paying attention to investment opportunities outside of New York.

In recent years, Atlanta has been one of the beneficiaries of this change. It appears that Israelis now know that there are specialized groups here that can aid them in realizing their investment goals.

Among those is Arnall Golden Gregory, which started to work with Israel’s real estate community in 2005 when the country’s investment dollars were going elsewhere. Eight years and numerous trips later, we have a better understanding of how to integrate Israeli investors into our economy, how to introduce international investors to regional and national developers, and how to best analyze the product demands of the international investor.

The proof is in the pudding. A recent panel on Inbound Israeli Real Estate Investment at our firm attracted a large audience and featured panelists Uzi Ziv, president of Sage Equities; Norman Radow, president of Radco; and Marvin Banks, advisor with Cortland Partners. The panel’s focus was on opportunities and complications that arise when making deals with Israeli investors.

While discussion was generally on multi-family investments – the core product for each of the speakers – the panelists noted that the capital structure in any investment needed to be very clear, that decision making needed to be fully understood, and that trust among partners needed to be built.

It was also pointed out that, when making a deal, it’s always important to take the time to visit Israel to meet with potential partners. In fact, such trips have time and again proven significant in closing complicated transactions for all of the panelists.

The panel also agreed that “location” was important, but a growing population base and an improved economy were also key factors for international investors. It became clear that while international partners are not for everyone, the depth of global equity clearly provides new capital in today’s every increasing global economy.

Abe Schear is a partner in the real estate practice of Arnall Golden Gregory with a primary practice in retail leasing. He is co-leader of the Retail Leasing Practice and the leader of the International Business Practice.

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