It’s a Small World After All: HGAR Global Initiatives Paying Dividends
Mary Prenon | April 20, 2023
Anyone who has ever been to a Disney theme park is familiar with the popular boat ride attraction featuring dolls of the world singing and dancing throughout the seven continents. “It’s a Small World” is meant to show how today’s world is really smaller than we think—given the technology now that can bring us all closer together.
Clayton Livingston, a commercial broker with McGrath Realty in Pawling, recently found out for himself that indeed it is a small world after all. He had no idea that his first trip to MIPIM, the largest commercial real estate conference in the world, would result in an amazing connection that could bring a multi-million-dollar investment to New York. Held in March in Cannes, France, MIPIM is a four-day conference attracting thousands of real estate and related professionals throughout the globe and offering hundreds of exhibitors and events.
Livingston was offered the opportunity to give a short pitch for one of his commercial properties, and as soon as he finished, he was approached by real estate professionals from Milan, Italy representing international investors interested in expanding their portfolio in Manhattan. “They told me their client was looking for a residential-over-retail type of development to add to a similar type of investment they currently have in Manhattan’s Soho district,” he said. “Of course, I was quite surprised—that’s not the kind of connection you make every day!”
The Milan real estate agents visited Manhattan in early April and Livingston showed them about 10 possible properties, many in Soho and Greenwich Village. “I have no doubt that if they come back, they’ll be looking to close a deal,” he added. In the meantime, he’s been in constant connection with them.
As the 2023 President of HGAR’s Commercial and Investment Division, Livingston believed it was important for him to attend the MIPIM conference. “It was actually mind-boggling,” he said of the thousands of attendees and exhibitors. Some pavilions, such as Dubai and Egypt had their own 10,000-square-foot tents, while other countries exhibited inside 30-foot yachts. “This is the future happening before our eyes,” he said. “If you do any type of commercial development or sales, you definitely want to be here.”
MIPIM has been around for the past 32 years. One of its founders is FIABCI, the world’s largest international real estate association. Currently, HGAR member Susan Greenfield serves as FIABCI’s 2023 World President and Eugenia Foxworth, another HGAR member, had served as President of FIABCI-USA in 2021.
“Basically, two types of people attend MIPIM,” said HGAR President Tony D’Anzica. “There are people who are trying to sell their region of the world, and others who are trying to invest in a particular region. HGAR’s mission in being there was to promote our region—the New York metro area and Hudson Valley.”
D’Anzica has played a vital role in HGAR’s Global Business Council since the group was founded in 2018. Just last year, HGAR received the Platinum Global Achievement Program Award from the National Association of Realtors for its global services initiatives.
Last June, HGAR’s Global Business Council organized its first Trade Mission to Portugal that was hosted by real estate partner, Portugal International Realty. The HGAR contingent was also hosted by the Porto City Council at City Hall, and later attended a dinner hosted by the Mayor of Porto. In addition, the group formed a new relationship with APEMIP, Portugal’s national professional real estate association. “Our goal is to help foster business not only across borders but also between our own communities,” said D’Anzica. “We want to encourage people to invest in the U.S.”
Yshay Manos, a broker with Nova North Commercial in New City and Coldwell Banker Commercial in Fort Lee, NJ attended the Trade Mission to Portugal because he was looking to expand his real estate business on an international level. “In recent years, Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination for Americans,” he said. “It’s been a fast-growing market for real estate investments and ranked as the best country for business, and as a relocation destination, so I saw this as an excellent opportunity to get involved.”
Manos also holds Portuguese citizenship and had been planning to gain insight and familiarize himself with the rich cultural heritage of the country. In addition to being able to better understand the local real estate market and customs, he was also excited about the opportunity to network with local government officials. “It can help navigate the bureaucratic process of doing business in Portugal, we can learn about development initiatives, and they can provide access to valuable information about the Portuguese market,” he explained.
As a result of his trip, Manos began to cultivate business relationships with Portuguese real estate professionals, developers, attorneys and government officials. He also joined social media groups focused on real estate investments and relocation to Portugal. “This offered me a platform to showcase my services and expertise to potential clients and partners,” he added.
Born in Israel, Manos has traveled extensively, living for a time in Europe and Japan before settling in New York. Involved with the arts and antiques, he even owned an art gallery, dealing with many Asian clients. “I have always loved working with different cultures,” he said.
Prior to the Portugal Trade Mission, he hadn’t done any transactions outside of the U.S., but has worked with people from Israel, Europe and South America helping them find residential and commercial properties here in America. With more than 20 years in the real estate business, Manos felt it was the right time to broaden his reach.
Just a few months after returning from Portugal, he began working with an American couple seeking property in the Lisbon area. His Portuguese real estate partner gave the couple a tour of the area and they are still considering their options. Manos has also met with foreign investors visiting New York City who are now interested in investing in Portugal as well. Even his colleagues in Israel are considering a permanent move to Portugal. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for many years and I’m very passionate about continuing to expand. My goal is to establish myself as an international expert,” he revealed.
Most of his potential international business abroad is comprised of people seeking residential properties but he recently began working with investors from Long Island who are interested in income-producing properties like apartment buildings in Portugal.
“Attending a trade mission can be a great way to explore new business opportunities, expand your network, and gain market knowledge, and I would highly recommend it,” said Manos. “Even without the international aspect, the relationships and connections I’ve developed with some of the other team members of the trade mission have also enriched both my professional and personal lives.”
In the meantime, Manos is busy completing his Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation to further support his global efforts.
Karen Benvin Ransom, an Associate Broker with Houlihan Lawrence in Bedford, also joined the trade mission to Portugal. “I had been to Europe many times, but not to Portugal,” she recalled. “I know lots of people who are thinking about where they’d like to retire. In the past, many have opted for the Carolinas or Florida, but with the inflated prices there, now they may as well have the glamour of retiring to live in Europe.”
Live and Invest Overseas Magazine has consistently ranked Portugal as one of the top foreign retirement destinations with its great weather, a wealth of restaurants and attractions, educational opportunities, great healthcare system and one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe.
Ransom said real estate taxes are extremely low compared to those in the New York metro area. “I attended one event where people were talking about taxes and said they could be up to $1,000. I asked if that was per month and was told no— per year! I almost fell off my chair,” she quipped.
After returning home following her trip, Ransom began reaching out to various clients and using social media to attract anyone who might be interested in purchasing property in Portugal. She has already connected a few of them with Portuguese real estate agents and will earn a referral fee should they purchase property there. One of her social media posts indicated that 45% of foreign homebuyers in Portugal are Americans.
“I’m all about the world market,” she added. “Business, especially real estate, is all about relationships. So why not cast a wider net into European markets or any other market that would be of service to your clients?”
Since the 2022 Portugal trip, HGAR continues to communicate with its counterparts in Portugal. For those who may be interested in purchasing a retirement home or second home, D’Anzica said just like in New York, it depends on where they look. “Lisbon is very expensive, but if you go further out from the city, you can find some great deals,” he said.
For Portuguese residents either relocating or purchasing investment properties in New York, again, it depends on what they want. “Many are looking for a safe place to park their money and others have children attending college and want them to have a more secure type of residence than a typical dormitory,” he added.
Unlike some other nations, the U.S. does not require a green card or citizenship for someone to purchase a property. In Portugal, property investors are offered the opportunity for citizenship if they agree to invest in real estate. “Some countries are experiencing decreasing populations which could hurt their local economy, so offering citizenship helps them,” he added.
Ironically, D’Anzica and his team were finally able to connect with Melissa Román Birch, COO of the NYC Economic Development Corp. in France. “We had people right in our backyard who we had tried to reach, but ultimately made the connection at MIPIM,” revealed D’Anzica. “She was astonished with what HGAR has to offer and she now realizes that she has a local partner with whom she can work.” As a result of the connection, Birch has agreed to speak at HGAR’s Global Real Estate Summit this year.
For Realtors who want to tap into the global market, D’Anzica suggested they might want to obtain a CIPS designation and join international organizations like FIABCI.
Some of the other recent initiatives HGAR’s Global Business Council has undertaken include its informative Global Business Chat series with representatives from various countries, along with hosting one of Dubai’s leading developers, Nahkeel at HGAR’s offices in White Plains. HGAR has also offered CIPS classes in conjunction with NYSAR.