When it comes to organizing an EB-5 project, the first stage — marketing to potential investors and meeting the target raise — is among the most crucial. Our EB-5 Solution Suites are purpose-built and streamlined to track the flow of funds through the whole life cycle of the EB-5 project, increasing oversight, safeguarding investors, and simplifying reporting and regulatory compliance at every step. And our customers have found that educating potential investors about the value of third-party oversight is a great help when they market their projects.
This week, we had the opportunity to chat with NES Financial customer Claudia Serna, Vice President of Business Development at Epelboim Development Group, about her experience using NES Financial’s EB-5 Solution Suites as a selling tool when she meets with prospective investors.
Thank you very much for speaking with us, Claudia. Could you tell our readers about Epelboim, the work they do, and your role at the company?
Of course! First off, we’re a real estate development company. Noel Epelboim, our CEO and President, has been in the development business for over 34 years. He’s originally from Venezuela, where he started his career. Then when he moved to Miami, about 17 years ago, he became involved in the development of high-end residential buildings as well as strip center retail projects. Since 2012, he has been working on office projects which use EB-5 as a partial source of funding. During the last four years, he transitioned to new hotel development projects, and this is now the core of our business.
I met Noel at this point, about four years ago. I’m from Colombia, and I’d been working in the real estate market for 20 years already, so when we met we had an immediate synergy and started to market these projects to investors from South America and India. We’re currently working on our fifth project using EB-5 capital.
What brought you to start using NES Financial’s services?
From the very beginning, once we found how unregulated this industry was, and saw the lack of protocols to guarantee transparency to investors, we built our philosophy around managing other people’s funds with extreme professionalism and care. We found in the NES platform the perfect way to provide all the services needed to comply with our investors’ needs — in terms of access to information on the location of their funds; the status of their immigration applications; and all the reports, including progress reports and K-1s — through the same platform.
How do NES Financial’s EB-5 Solutions help you market to investors?
I’m the one who’s often sitting across the table from prospective investors, and I can tell you: our relationship with NES Financial is my number-one tool to close people and get them to commit to our projects.
It’s important to remember that not all EB-5 applicants are very wealthy, and they may not have any experience investing. For many of them, this is a complicated process. It might be a real stretch to come up with the money — but it’s worth it, for the chance to move to the U.S. with their family. A lot of investors are understandably nervous about how their money will be handled, especially after some recent scandals — instances of fraud in the industry that have shown the vulnerability of the process. If a developer does not follow the instructions according to their offering docs, or chooses to misuse funds, it can quickly ruin the investors’ plans. That’s something that NES’s platforms restrict, as they control the draw of funds for construction purposes according to a very strict protocol.
And NES Financial’s oversight on the project helps reassure them?
When I show them the NES Financial Investor Portal, I can see the response on their faces: “Wow!” The fact that they have access to all of the information about their money — where it is in escrow, when it’s moved into the project, etc. — and their immigration case, all in one place… the fact that Epelboim gives them this tool shows them they can trust us, that we have nothing to hide.
Of course, it wouldn’t work if NES Financial weren’t so respected in the industry. But that’s easy for them to look up and verify. Once they see that NES Financial has a good reputation for security, and we show them the NES Financial platform and how our project uses it, this makes the job of selling the project ten times easier for me.
At the end of the day, the law is very specific in saying that an EB-5 investment has to be kept “at risk.” It’s up to the investors to look for the least risky project that satisfies the legal requirement. NES Financial’s oversight removes a lot of the risk factors of the investment — and that’s exactly what they’re looking for.
Claudia, if people want to learn more about Epelboim, where should they go?
For information on our company and current projects, go to our website: http://epelboim.com/
About Epelboim Development Group
Epelboim Development Group is a full-service development company specialized in lifestyle/select service hospitality projects in the United States Sun Belt. Their 30+ years of knowledge and experience are the basis for their proven record of successful real estate projects in the USA as well as in Latin America. In recent years, they have specialized in hotel projects that are financed, in part, through the EB-5 visa program.
For more information about how our Loan Administration Solution could benefit your project, please contact your NES Financial representative. We look forward to speaking with you!