The Real Deal Miami

Israeli investors scouring SF for bulk deals

By Alexander Britell | March 15, 2011 01:18AM

It began almost two years ago, with one of the first bulk purchases
since the downturn. Shaul Moshal purchased 26 units at Pembroke
Pines’ La Via condominium for $1.4 million in January 2009
.

The
Israelis are part of a growing trend of foreign buyers driving the
residential market, as Canadians
and Brazilians have been notably moving in on the South Florida region
.

Since the Pembroke Pines purchase, Israeli investors have been
searching South Florida for deals — especially those they can do in
bulk, with some dealing directly with fellow Israeli developers.

“It’s
interesting, there’s definitely an uptick [in Israeli investment],” said
Eddy Martinez, CEO of Worldwide Development Services, a Miami-based
residential  brokerage firm. “They want to invest here, and they want to
be here.”

Martinez represented Optibase Real Estate, which is wholly owned by a publicly traded company in Israel, in its purchase of 21 condo units in the Marquis Residences in downtown Miami, which was developed by the U.S. wing of Israeli developer Africa Israel. Optibase paid $8.6 million for the units.

Africa Israel did not respond to requests for comment. 

“Generally speaking, investment groups from Israel are very aggressive, very shrewd,” said Peter Zalewski, founder of brokerage and consultancy Condo Vultures. “They expect to get a fantastic price. These groups demand a ton, but when they get that price and product is available they’ll pull the trigger.”

Zalewski said that what tended to separate the Israeli groups from buyers of other nationalities was that “when they ask for the world, and it’s delivered, they’ll pull the trigger.” Other groups, he said, were not quite so decisive in making deals.

Zalewski pointed to  Optibase’s Marquis purchase as something of a model of Israeli buyers’ risk-taking strategies.

Martinez, who also negotiated a bulk deal last year with W Capital Group, andwhose funding came from Israel, noted that Israelis are buying in Miami in bulk largely because of a perception that Miami has reached the bottom of the market, Martinez said.

“There is still some very good real estate to be picked up at a low reproduction cost, and once it’s taken, it’s taken,” he said.

Note: A previous version of this article reported that BH3, a real estate investment firm, was Israeli-funded. BH3 is, in fact, a local firm.