"Once Again We're in a Great Period for Investment"

Avichai Alkotzer, a New York City-based real estate investment consultant, talks about what one needs to know in order to close a good deal, and why it's important to understand the state bureaucracy and procedures before getting started.

Ori Kariv
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"Once Again We're in a Great Period for Investment"Credit: Rise Media
Ori Kariv
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With the COVID-19 pandemic nearly behind it, a new mayor heading it, and real estate investors slowly returning to it, New York is once again reclaiming its place as the world's most desirable city, and offering an impressive variety of properties – from studio apartments and residential buildings in Manhattan, to spacious family homes in Queens and Brooklyn. Against the background of an anticipated price surge in the Israeli real estate market, potential investors now looking for good properties at reasonable prices can find them in New York – the undisputed financial and cultural capital of the world and an excellent location for investments that can bring them a regular passive income. Someone who is qualified to help Israeli investors achieve the American dream "big time" by finding them the most suitable properties is Avichai Alkotzer, an experienced real estate investment consultant who came to New York in 2003 on a professional soccer scholarship and went on to study international business and finance at the University of Memphis.

Within a few years, Alkotzer had left the playing field for the real estate field, "scoring" attractive properties instead of goals. He gained in-depth expertise in the New York City real estate market, and went on to provide clients from all over the world with real estate consulting and guidance services – individually-tailored purchasing experiences aimed at maximizing returns and revenues. Alkotzer relates that each year he sells properties in the amount of 80-100 million dollars. "I've been here half my life, doing real estate since 2006, I understand the clientele and American culture in depth, I know the market like the back of my hand. I personally experienced the insane increases we had here, the crises, the pandemic, and now once again we're in a great period for investment. Everything's slowly getting back to normal, and investors from all over the world looking for good opportunities are starting to return. Right now there's a post-COVID window of opportunity, where the big investors haven't fully powered up, meaning that if someone's considering entering the New York real estate market – now's the time," Alkotzer says.

What edge do you offer Israeli investors?
I'm their man in New York, from A to Z. My goal is to get rid of all the stress involved in the apartment and tenant search. Here, unlike in Israel, you learn very quickly not to cut corners. The procedures here are very different from those in Israel, a lot of paperwork, in-depth background checks, permits and documents. I provide the knowledge and guide my clients from the property-finding stage through the closing of the deal itself, with all the bureaucracy that that entails, down to the finding of suitable tenants who'll give them an ongoing passive income for years."

Avichai AlkotzerCredit: Rise Media

Alkotzer dove forcefully into the real estate world after working for the banking and investment firm Morgan Stanley. In his first year in the field, he was named "Real Estate Professional of the Year." He is now employed by Compass, a large independent New York real estate firm with luxurious Fifth Avenue headquarters. Compass executes dozens of deals a day using sophisticated technologies that are considered to be the future of real estate. Still, Alkotzer, emphasizes, although company capabilities are definitely important, what's more critical is the person working with the investor, the one who guides him or her closely throughout the process. "A good deal requires a real estate agent with a high level of professional integrity, who knows how to give exemplary service. Someone who knows every street and alleyway, and who can help the client deal with complicated procedures. I put a tremendous amount of knowledge to work on behalf of investors, so they can go about their business, secure in the awareness that we'll find them the best and most lucrative deals for their needs."

What's the secret of your success?
"My motto for financial and personal success is never to be afraid of hard work. If you're persistent and determined and you have knowledge and experience – you'll lead your client into a smooth, successful, and profitable purchase or sale process. Apartment buying, whether for investment or personal use, can be emotional, and it's important to understand and accept the sensitivity of the process. Although my title is "real estate agent," someone who buys and sells real estate for my clients, I see myself as a true partner who helps people make the right decisions for their way of life. The service I provide is on-target and truthful for the client, even at the price of not closing the deal. It's a relationship that has to be based on trust. New York is the world's melting pot, everyone here knows the score – the buyers, the sellers, and the renters. These are successful and experienced people, and everything has to be done properly and managed without cutting corners.

"I see myself as a true partner who helps people make the right decisions for their way of life"Credit: Rise Media

"New York isn't Israel, for better or worse", Alkotzer adds. "The bureaucracy involved in buying a property in New York is complicated and consists of permits and documents that the investor has to submit. The typical Israeli investor is less enamored of this exhausting process. My role is to make the complicated endeavor as easy for the investor as possible, and to be available 24/7. As an Israeli living and working in New York, I specialize in smoothly bridging gaps between the Israeli investor's culture and mentality and the American business culture."

Why, in fact, should one invest in New York City real estate?
"New York City is a country unto itself, somewhat like Tel Aviv. It's a safe stock. True, there are sometimes crises like COVID-19, the economic crisis of 2008, or 9/11 that caused drops in supply and demand, but in terms of the numbers over the years – New York will always be in demand, whether by city residents or foreign investors. The data on the ground show that there will be a constant flow of Americans, foreigners, companies, workers, students, or families into Manhattan, meaning that the value of apartments will always increase over time. An apartment never stays empty for long, most renters in general are successful and educated people who work in Manhattan, and their annual incomes are significantly higher than in other US states. One of the conditions for apartment rental is proof of an annual income that's 40 times higher than the monthly rent. That's a condition that's not flexible, and so there's security in terms of rental payment."

"If you're looking for a long-term investment that brings profit and returns – New York is the place for you"Credit: Rise Media

Alkotzer adds that, today, it's hard to find properties priced below market value, meaning that property-flipping isn't feasible. "If you're looking for a long-term investment that brings profit and returns – New York is the place for you. New York investments offer long-term regular passive income with potential for betterment or for sale at a higher profit a few years later. If we look at New York City real estate values from the 1980s to the present, we find a rise in real estate market value. This trend isn't about to change, while COVID now seems to be behind us."

What's the minimum property investment for a high return?
"New York is divided into boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, like Tel Aviv – Ramat Gan and Givatayim. Of course, Brooklyn and Queens are cheaper, and many Israelis like to focus on these areas and invest in multifamily houses where the investment ensures them 2-3 apartments. The investment range in Manhattan starts with studio apartments with a minimum value of 500 thousand dollars and continues with multifamily house investments that start at 2 million dollars. For example, one of my Israeli clients bought an investment apartment for 800 thousand dollars. An investment that brings a monthly return of 3500 dollars versus Tel Aviv where 800,000 dollars won't realistically bring a similar return. Unlike the stock market, property investment is more stable. There are no sharp fluctuations based on what's happening around the world."

What's your gold-standard recommendation for potential investors?
"New York is easy to get around, and so investors have an easy time getting to know the neighborhoods, the surrounding attractions, and the potential embodied in each specific area. Based on my experience, it's worth investing in high-demand areas where the starting price is naturally higher. It's not a good idea to be tempted by low and attractive prices, since these are generally problematic properties, whether in terms of renting out the apartment at a profitable return, or in terms of selling it profitably later on. It's crucially important to choose a professional real estate agent who knows all the nuances of the local real estate market and also understands all of the investor's issues and considerations. As a realtor, I'm concerned to build a relationship based on trust with all of my clients, and this relationship usually becomes a close one at the personal level. My motto is to find the safest and most profitable investment tailored to the client. It's important to note that the service provided by the real estate agent representing the buyer is cost-free. The commission is paid by the seller. I'm always available for consulting and guidance, there's no question that I can help."

To ensure that the properties actually realize returns and produce secure incomes, Alkotzer also guides investors post-purchase as they search for the perfect paying tenant. "It seems to me that in Israel there's no tenant screening process, while here everything's done with meticulous care – the investor gets the tenant's pay stubs, bank statements, employment verification, and the like. There's another form of screening – credit checks that serve as a kind of background check, determining whether the tenant has made and is making monthly credit card payments, electricity and phone payments, whether he has a criminal record, has ever declared bankruptcy, has ever been subject to repossession, etc. As I noted earlier, the renter has to have an annual income of 40 times the monthly rent. All of these screening processes ensure a stable and quality tenant who provides security and peace of mind to the property owner who, in our case, is geographically distant – thousands of kilometers away. The current real estate market in New York is active, promising, and attractive, with better prices than in the past. This is a special period where there's a window of opportunity for smart investment, as the US is opening its gates to the entire world. An excellent opportunity for investment."

Avichai Alkotzer
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Phone: +1-646-436-2242
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