It is estimated that 5,000 Belgians settled in Florida, including Miami, where they invest in brick. Real estate is hard there. Other US cities are following the trend.

Posted on 19/06/2014 at 10:34 By Paolo Leonardi
I invest in the United States, a case? Experts agree to answer in the affirmative. Manuel Molina, he is intimately convinced. Installed overseas for several years, this man has different hats, including that of Honorary Consul of Belgium in Miami. "More and more Belgians come to live here ," he explains. There are about 2,500 compatriots in all of Florida, plus those not included in the listings. In total, Belgians must be 5,000. The profiles are different. Many people from the Jewish community leave Belgium because they consider it racist. We also have those who want to change lives and retirees. "

But the movement is observed in both directions. "To come to Miami, you have to meet two conditions: to be active and / or to have the means ," continues Manuel Molina, who was also director of the Americas for Cableries d'Eupen, a collaborator in a lobbying company and co-founder of 'an investment bank. Real estate, whether in Miami or elsewhere in the United States, is very popular today because the dollar is cheap. In this regard, Miami is unbeatable, although some areas are very expensive: we find a good near the sea at unbeatable prices. "
And the consul cited Miami Beach and North Beach, two areas that are starting to be very prominent. "But at Normandy Island, you'll find a two-bedroom apartment on a golf course for $ 150,000 ," he says. At Surf Side, further north, you will have a studio of 50 m2 starting at $ 100,000 or a bedroom for $ 120,000. The very close to the beach ... »
The subprime crisis in 2007-2008 that plagued the US market? A remarkable memory but which is far today. "It was especially a great moment of opportunity for business ," insists Manuel Molina. Very little was selling. The operations that took place despite everything were realized in cash. Huge opportunities were missed because you had to be extremely responsive. One example among others: in Miami downtown, there was a building of 100 lofts that was for sale for $ 8.3 million (6.1 million euros)or $ 83,000 per loft. It was cheaper than the price of construction! There were also buildings in which apartments had been sold at $ 1 million before the crisis, and others, quite identical, which were leaving for $ 375,000 after 2008 ... "
At the time, you had to pay $ 1.50 to get a euro. The Europeans had an advantage but the investments were still risky, nobody can say then if the market would go up, and especially when. "But if the market has resumed, it is mainly thanks to the South Americans who landed here with suitcases filled with cash , exposes Manuel Molina. Even today, nearly 70% of real estate in Miami is bought for cash. "

To be framed by professionals

In six years, the market has evolved but be responsive when the golden opportunity is still the watchword. This is why Manuel Molina joined the Brussels lawyer Jean-Marc Goossens (see below) in another adventure: the constitution of an investment fund in the form of a US real estate investment company. "An investment fund is first and foremost a financial investment ," explains this leading US specialist, where he has been helping his clients make deals for six years. It allows several small budgets to enter the dance. In Belgium, with $ 100,000, you buy a garage in Knokke. Here, we invest in a company that owns several properties. The investor has nothing to do and his risks are limited because diversified. "
An adventure conducted in collaboration with Hugh Terlinden, a third Los Angeles-based associate. "In 2008, our clientele consisted mainly of pure investors willing to take risks ," concludes Jean-Marc Goossens. Today, we have more and more families wishing to leave Europe because they believe that the Old Continent is no longer a safe place. Investing in the United States is still scary to some because of the different legislations but if one is framed by professionals, there is no risk. "

How Miami became the Eldorado of Jean-Marc Goossens

Jean-Marc Goossens is a lawyer, but not a lawyer like any other. First by his specialty, his favorite subjects are real estate, immigration and taxation ... American. Comical. His Luxembourgish father (who died when he was 13) was a convinced European (he signed the European treaty for his country).
But it is especially Jean-Marc Goossens' career that is out of the ordinary. His university studies? He makes his candidatures to the ULB and his licenses to the UCL. His first professional experience? He did it with Armand Dedecker, the number 1 of the PRL (the former MR) in Brussels, then a defense lawyer. He will send him "important and fascinating" files such as the CCC or the international espionage case of Colonel Binet, on which he fours his weapons of young wolf of the Brussels Bar.
But it is the Formula 1 that propels the Brussels lawyer to the fore, and especially a certain Bertrand Gachot, this French driver who ran for several years under Belgian license. "I knew Bertrand at the European School," says Jean-Marc Goossens. For eight seasons in F1, I looked for sponsors and I took care of his contracts, as well as those of other teams like Jordan Grand Prix, Coloni, Onyx, Pacific Racing, Rial Racing or Larrousse. "
Everything is going well in the best of all worlds until 1995 when an altercation between Gachot and a London taxi driver turns sour. For having sprayed the driver's face with an aerosol, the F1 driver is sent to prison. He is even sentenced to six months in prison. "I got out of this mess by taking the best" barrister "(a litigator, Ed), says Jean-Marc Goossens. But he still had to spend three months in Brixton Prison, one of the worst in the UK ... "
During this period, the Brussels lawyer visits Bertrand Gachot every day. But the deal turns sour once the pilot is released. "When he came out of prison, life was not the same," says a man still affected by this lost friendship. He had lost his wheel (Goossens will write the first contract of his successor, a certain ... Michael Schumacher, Ed) and even if I had found another one, the wind had turned ... »
Goossens then deals with the contracts of other sportsmen. He touches tennis (Anders Jarryd) and golf (Florence Descampe). "Traveling was my big passion," he says. But I hardly had the opportunity to visit the cities of F1. Playing golf one day with the boss of an American NGO in Mexico, my professional life has taken another turn ... "
And here is Jean-Marc Goossens embarked on his new life, the one that sees him take care of logistics expeditions for NGOs in Southeast Asia, mainly in Papua New Guinea. "Eight months a year, I lived in Port Moresby, the capital, and the other four months, I lived on the Australian Gold Coast, says the Brussels. It was an exciting time but I was not making a lot of money ... "
It is impossible not to mention the three months that Jean-Marc Goossens lived in a Papuan tribe. "The Huli," he smiles, pictures in support, as if he knew in advance the effect he would produce on his interlocutors. I spent three months without water or electricity, without any information, he continues. I slept in a tree house and spent my days hunting and fishing. Except that in three months, I never brought anything back to the village ... "
And when asked the main lesson he learned from this incredible epic, Jean-Marc Goossens replies: "It gives me distance from the problems of everyday life. Even today, I often think of Huli ... "
When he was at university, the 50-year-old lawyer had created a tax newsletter for Belgian businessmen. "I wrote articles every two weeks and I had very good contacts in the financial world," he explains. I continued to give advice from Papua. But with the 2007 crisis, nobody wanted to invest in the stock market and my newsletter has lost all its subscribers. The crisis came from the subprimes in the United States. I had to go there ... "
And here is Jean-Marc Goossens landing in Miami in October 2008, a city he feels interesting to develop business. "With the crisis, Miami had become very attractive," he confirms. Even in the highest-rated neighborhoods, real estate had fallen by as much as 50%. It was three or four times cheaper than in Knokke (where the lawyer resides, Ed) but much better! And the city kept a high potential: it is a city of water, with restricted territories that prevent constructions from expanding to infinity. Prices could only go up ... "
That's what happened three years later, driven by the South Americans who landed in what is now called the "capital of South America" with cash in their pockets . "They no longer trusted in their political system or their currency and they no longer wanted insecurity. Miami became their Eldorado. "
With time, Miami became also that of Jean-Marc Goossens. Like Los Angeles, another megalopolis where the lawyer has set up a network of contacts that allows him today to offer investors, Belgian or international, an investment fund (read moreover). "With my two partners, I brought together real estate agents, specialized lawyers, bankers, accountants and contractors," says the lawyer, who regularly accompanies potential customers in the United States to buy and sell. to settle on the other side of the Atlantic. Our goal is to provide a service from A to Z. "