Welcome to Investing Across Borders with Lauren Cohen. Every week she will share valuable information that you need to know in order to successfully invest in real estate and other business endeavors in North America. We believe in helping clients invest, live, work, and play across borders. And now, your host, Lauren Cohen.
Lauren Cohen 0:23
Good morning, everybody. And welcome to Investing Across Borders. I’m your host, Lauren Cohen, and I am here today with my guest Ken Van Lew. I met Ken about six months ago on a Real Raw show, where Ken was one of the contestants talking about one of his many business endeavors. And I was one of the sharks, one of the judges, and I loved what he had to say about his business. I loved what he had to say about mindset. He’s a Tony Robbins guy, and he is just an amazing entrepreneur. He is so proud of his kids. When I asked him this morning, how are things going, all he talked about was his kids and all of the great things they’re doing. Ken, welcome to our show.
Ken Van Liew 1:08
Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here today. And when I met you, I felt the same way. I was mentioning you this morning, that I had taken an international class years ago and just kind of felt like, what’s the next step? And I was like, wow, educate patients, with Lauren on what you’re doing, it’s just amazing. So I was really impressed and I’m honored to be here, thank you.
Lauren Cohen 1:33
It’s an exciting time to be in international real estate, people think that COVID has, (and it has) had a huge negative impact on real estate. But it’s also had a positive impact, because it’s opened so many doors. I mean, you’re creating this amazing program, a 10 year program for entrepreneurs that are investing in real estate, they can’t go wrong with something like what you’re offering. It’s an amazing, having you as a coach is a treat in and of itself. But on top of that, you just have so much experience to share. And you’re such a go giver, as Bob Berg would say, and you love giving and you give with your heart and you truly mean what you say. it’s not just, oh, let’s see how many dollars I can count. You’ve done extraordinarily well for yourself and mainly in the New York and New Jersey markets. And you’ve just made an impact on so many. Give us a little bit of background, if you would, on who you are and what brought you to where you are today.
Ken Van Liew 2:30
Well, thank you so much. First and foremost, I always tell everyone, I’m a husband, I’ve been married for coming up 33 years, and a father to three wonderful children. You know, my twins, a twin boy and girl, and then the third girl. We have been blessed. And you know, I’ve been gifted. I started out a little slow. I created the six year plan in college, but I put my grid iron experience as a football player, and six years later became a civil engineer and, I was feeling a little behind because of the six year program. I just kept taking classes at night and got one Master’s in civil and another Master’s in real estate development. And during all this time, I learned how to build skyscrapers in New York City. So it’s pretty fascinating. So, you know, my career gave me a tremendous opportunity. I was fortunate to build a billion dollar project in Brooklyn, New York, it was for the Metro Tech Center, the financial center of the world. You know, we’re here talking about money and investing. It operated every New York and American Stock Exchange transaction, was the email when headquarters had the chance to build for Rudolph Giuliani and do things on time and on schedule. It’s just fascinating. But what it really came down to, when I started to create the modern wealth building formula, was my purpose. And that was to bring everybody to their greatness, you know. In life, people are challenged with things, you know, we recently are having all kinds of challenges, everybody, you know. The monitor wealth building formula, really what I believe, truly in my heart, it’s not only about real estate. It applies to any business, it applies to any life and the intention. And the outcome that I shoot for is to bring people to their greatness. And in that give them the ability to feel confident, be able to pay it forward. And, live with more power and freedom, self expression, peace of mind, because at the end of the day, we’re all just seeking to be happy. That’s what it comes down to.
Lauren Cohen 4:34
And you found that secret sauce for sure. I mean, I think that I’ve certainly seen that. We’ve spoken probably about 10 times, and every time it’s like the positive energy exudes from you, and it’s just great. You know, when I went on Real Raw, I didn’t even know what I was doing. Somebody invited me and I’m like, Okay, I’ll do it, whatever, you know, and I’m always about meeting people and I’m actually going to be on it again this week, which is funny, because I haven’t even talked to them since we were on it together. So, you built these high rises, which obviously that’s changed a little bit tell us about how your business has morphed and changed over the years.
Ken Van Liew 5:29
It started out where I started as an engineer, and, you know, that was the first thing I learned. So I had a PE license, and I did design work. And as I learned how to do constructions, it evolved into becoming a general contractor, and I learn how to build. Then, I wanted to develop, so, I learned how to develop. When I started in business, you know, I wasn’t a big developer, I had done my first development, and I didn’t want to come across as kind of competing with other developers. So I really came in as I want to help you and I was a big time advisory on major projects in New York City. And as it grew, and I started building skyscrapers at a titanio concrete company, I was like, wow, you know, I really want to go back to the development side again. So it evolved back and forth. And, you know, now it’s kind of landed that we’re just an investment firm, and a development firm. And we are building the monitor wealth building coaching side, but we’re not doing as much third party consulting, because we have a lot of our own projects. So how companies evolve, just say, in the last two years, with everything that’s gone on, we went from doing a lot of stuff in New York, to where New York as the numbers rise, the deals and the numbers don’t work any longer. So we’ve moved into I call it a little bit more flat development, doing large things in New Jersey, we’re developing a major multi-use with the restoration of 100 year old restaurant, we have a CBS that we’re about ready to sign an extraordinary lease or where we get the bill back for them. We’re also big into the affordable housing, we have a large affordable housing project, we have market rate, we’re also doing some self storage. So my business has shifted more into like Jersey rural developments, instead of the vertical stuff. Because that just wasn’t working. When you’re paying, $600-$800 a square foot for property, it just doesn’t work. And it happened before. So I was kind of familiar with the cycle. You know, back in the day, I used to laugh, because I went into the concrete business, which is a tough business. And you could understand, I was pouring concrete for $52 a square foot years before that, when it was very unionized, because we learned how to crack the code in New York and do things non union, they were charging $100 a square foot and you didn’t really have a chance to negotiate. They would just tell you, if you want to get on my schedule, this is when I can arrive on the job site. So, you know, the industry, my career, my business has evolved, greatly.
Lauren Cohen 8:38
So you mentioned several things. Now, as you know, I was doing EB-5 and still do from, here and there. But I was doing EB-5 for many, many years. And almost every one of those projects that you mentioned, from the multifamily, mixed-use the, you mentioned a lot of projects that could potentially qualify for EB-5 money. And obviously, you’re in this space where there’s a lot of EB-5 money. Did you ever touch on that or go into that?
Ken Van Liew 9:09
You know, it’s funny you say that because the Hudson Yards was a huge EB-5,
Lauren Cohen 9:13
Was that your project?
Ken Van Liew 9:15
Well, I had a lot of friends and that was one of the biggest developers in the city brought in millions of dollars EB-5.
Lauren Cohen 9:23
I know, it changed the face of EB-5 actually, that project actually changed EB-5.
Ken Van Liew 9:30
Yeah, and you know, I was fascinated by the whole EB-5 process. There was actually a point where I was starting to kind of do what we were going to do now, and move this forward. I was working with a young lady who came from China, and was supporting people through the EB-5 program where she would bring them for a day and bring them around their development property. And, you know, I tried to work with her but then rather I think it’s kind of changed. And I think you said there’s other programs like the E-2 program that’s involved and stuff like that. So I’m here to learn and share. And, you know, I think all of this applies to the stuff that you’re doing and presenting.
Lauren Cohen 10:20
Yeah, you mentioned and this is interesting, I asked about a photo pod that happened when you were doing some international expansion or investing. And you were talking about going to China and not knowing how to address the business person there. And that’s a really common thing, because EB-5 obviously was huge in China. If you don’t do it like this, you’re done. You don’t shake hands, you hand the card with both your hands over to them and give them the opportunity to look at it and take it. And I will be honest, I never went to China. But I worked with so many in the space. And it was a constant discussion, because you have to learn how to deal with different cultures. That’s one of the main things in my Going Global ebook that I talked about, is the most important thing you can do when you’re going global, is consider what the other culture accepts. For example, we have so many Israelis coming into the country. And sometimes they don’t adjust the way they do business. And the way people do business in different countries is different than the way we do business. So what I’d love to know is, have you worked with many foreign investors? Do you have one experience you’d like to share with us? Or what’s the most interesting experience? Or is there a particular way that you’d like to approach foreign investors just give us a little flavor for how that’s impacted your business?
Ken Van Liew 11:43
Yeah, you know, that’s a great question. Because, I’m a student of all arts, and what you do is an art. I’ve worked with a lot of foreign investors, but I’ve never been able to work through all the technicalities and the things that you do. And I find that as we learn, through the unblinded is that there’s friction for me, in not having the knowledge to take my ability to bring foreign investors in, because I don’t have someone like you to eliminate the friction. I didn’t have somebody, you know, when I was at NYU, it was 20 years ago, I was thinking globally back then. But, you know, I had this fascinating view on how to just open up all opportunities to the world. But now I have the opportunity to do that, so really, my experience has been challenging. I mentioned to you when I had heard all about the Hudson Yards and the EB-5 program and how they funded that, I’m like, game on, I’m in.
Lauren Cohen 13:07
Because it looks so perfect. On the surface, it looks so easy, EB-5. Honestly, I remember an article about me in the Palm Beach post down here. And I must have had 1000 calls, “I want to raise money.” “How do I get money for my restaurant, how to get money for my hotel”, “I want to build a project, I want to build regionals”. Like, you know, everybody and their brother and their sister. And that’s really how things were, for many years after the 2008 crash. Everybody wanted to get into this space. It was the space to get into if you’re in real estate.
Ken Van Liew 13:46
Like, when I saw the article, and I spoke to this young lady, she made it sound so simple. And she’s like, yeah, we fly him in, we do my helicopter ride. We have the 500 acres… and all of a sudden, when I was like, well, how do you do this? And this and that? Well, you have to fill this out, and you have to get this, and then they have to do this and this and I was like Oh man, I don’t have the bandwidth right now. You know, but now I do. Because if we go, here’s the outcome for these people that invest across borders, and we set them up with the modern wealth building formula, and you deal with all the structure elements, so my formula just eliminates more friction. You’re eliminating friction TO the border. I’m eliminating friction AFTER the border.
Ken Van Liew 14:35
Absolutely, it’s a beautiful thing. And the truth is, you know, it’s hard enough dealing with regulatory and legal issues within a country. But as soon as you’re crossing borders, those magnify a million times, and you have to really adjust what you do to respond to those needs. When you’re dealing with a foreign national. They are moving their family, potentially. So you have to think about that. It’s not just an investor, it’s a family and that becomes super important. It’s also important to make sure that the investment is as safe as possible. And how do you structure that? And then people are always like, Well, how do I attract foreign investors? So one of the interesting things is, it’s exactly because of what you said, Ken. That’s why I started my business. Because realtors and developers and business owners are like, how do I do this? I don’t know how to do it. So I’m just not going to touch it. But, like, I actually created 10 steps to immigrate to real estate, I haven’t even formally launched yet. But it literally is a 10 step program to get immigration through real estate investing. That’s what my webinar is on tomorrow. So it’s really just simplifying a very complex process. And I think you recognize the value. I know you mentioned, value is more important than price. And it’s not that it’s so expensive. But if you want somebody to hold your hand through a process, you’re the general contractor of your development. I’m the general contractor of these processing. So tell me about modern wealth building. What is the modern wealth building formula?
Ken Van Liew 16:20
Well, what you just shared is pretty fascinating. Because right off the bat, I heard, you know, three or four direct synergies. I’m training people to start a business, and how they should look at their entity structure and what the tax advantages are, and how do they present themselves because you hear the old cliche with real estate: location, location, location. With investing in real estate and having your own real estate company, its presentation, presentation, presentation. I come across with a whole top down learning approach, where people that start a real estate business are like, oh, wow, I have this long Ascension path that I have to climb. And I show that there’s a top down thinking where they can actually descend on the ascension path anywhere along that line, if they land at the top, they learn everything that applies downward and can pretty much do anything in real estate. But the modern wealth building formula is a form of, if you want to put it in legal terms, I guess you could say syndication, it blankets, any type of real estate. So whether people want to be a passive investor or active and wholesale fix, and flip, buy and hold, the modern wealth building formula shows how you can structure that, set up an investment platform where other people can invest in that, give,
Lauren Cohen 17:39
So joint ventures?
Ken Van Liew 17:40
Joint ventures, people are the general partners get all types of tax advantages, the passive losses, and they essentially turn the modern wealth building formula into their own real estate business. And that’s really what a lot of people I believe, should be doing. Because whether you work on it on a 1099, a W2, or whatever the case may be. Having a real estate company enabling you to have all those advantages and losses, makes sense. And I think that’s what you’re trying to promote. And, that’s where I think there’s a direct synergy, where I’m so excited to hear new stuff. You know, I think it’s been a few weeks, we talked before the New Year.
Lauren Cohen 18:18
Yes, things happen quickly. But I will say that just since we last talked, well, this baby launched, my podcast, and it’s definitely all come together because COVID has forced all of us to rethink our business model. You know, we then pivot, pivot, pivot. I was helping people get SBA money, and she’s now available again. But the truth is that for me, it’s always been about bringing value, and having an impact. And how do I do that? Well I just got off the phone with my colleague who just opened eXp in Portugal. So you know, I’m part of the eXp, this cloud based real estate company, I’m sure you’ve heard about it. The stock went from $8 in March to $80+ two weeks ago, and he launched Portugal and he’s about to launch Brazil. They’re both under him. He is from Toronto. He was born in Brazil grew up in Toronto, a dear friend of mine. And we were talking about not just being a global realtor and global real estate developer, but a global lawyer because everything is now global. And I think that the one big silver lining of COVID is making the world truly a smaller place. There is nothing that’s outside of our reach. And in here, one of the questions that I wanted to talk with you about is, why is the US in spite of all this tumbo, that’s a Yiddish word. All of this chaos that’s going on. We have a inauguration coming up in like nine days, and some just complete craziness going on. You know, I’m very isolated, you’re probably seeing more of it because you’re more in the northeast of the city. But why is the US still a safe place to invest?
Ken Van Liew 20:06
Yeah, it’s a great question. You know, I could say that I’m saddened with what you see on the news. It’s disappointing. You know, I’m not wanting to dwell on the negative. All I can say is that if you look at the percentages, if you look at the news, what transpired at the Capitol is just, you know, beyond my imagination. I can’t even think about it, because it’s not registering. But all I can say is that I believe it’s a very small percentage, because truly, 99% of all people in the world, and 99% of all businesses, want better, and want the world to be a better place. And, you know, unfortunately, if we watch the news, you’re getting that 1% of all the news, and it can put you into a rabbit hole, and the social media stuff that’s going on, it drives you to create that kind of animosity. But let’s just look past it, there’s so many positive things, like you say, the global reach now is just at our fingertips, it’s changed, we have the ability to just talk like you’re in my living room right now!
Lauren Cohen 21:21
And now it’s second nature. It’s not like a really big deal like it used to be, I think, pre-COVID Oh, we have to go and zoom. Oh, can I meet you in person? I love it. Because, as a single mom, it saves me huge amounts of time. I don’t have to drive all these different places, the travel time is great. But you also get the zoom fatigue, I carry my eye drops around, like literally everywhere I go. Ken, what would be three of your top recommendations for a foreign national, or foreign investor that wants to invest in the US. Your projects, of course.
Ken Van Liew 22:02
Yeah, first, do a little research, so you can gain a comfort level. So when you start to ask questions, a lot of times we feel our lack of knowledge is not going to enable us to take the next step. So, build confidence about the step that you’re doing. And I mean, it’s probably a little nerve racking. So, do a little research, talk to people like Warren and just get the basics. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. There’s no question that’s not important.
Lauren Cohen 22:37
There are no stupid questions when it comes to moving. Well, there’s no stupid questions, generally. But this is a big deal moving across borders. I’m an immigrant myself. And I said that to somebody the other day, she was obviously an immigrant. And I’m not obviously an immigrant. And I said, Well, I’m an immigrant, too. She hung up the phone on me, she thought it was like, I did it too. I went through it all. Like, even though I may not be as obvious and my accent isn’t as strong, I am from a different country. So yeah, you’ve got to do your due diligence, that’s what you’re saying. Like, no matter where you’re investing in your home country, in another country, coming from another country going into another country. Due diligence is key, and you can’t do it all on your own. You have to bring professionals in that know what they’re doing. You know, Ken is gonna help you to invest in real estate every day of the week. But is it gonna help you to get a visa? Probably not.
Ken Van Liew 23:35
Yeah, that was my second item, which kind of led me in. I coined this term, since we’re talking globally, it was like the 1992 Olympics, it was the Dream Team. And I always teach my clients, you want to put a little dream team around that. So you know, people like Lauren, and myself, if you’re taking on something that I would have fear for. I don’t know how people move to a different country and make it, you know, I’d hire a buddy that takes that on, you’re just such unbelievable story. So you know, you want to build a team. And the third thing, which kind of led into, you know, doing a little bit of research is due diligence relating to the real estate. So, there’s a whole new realm of due diligence when moving into a country versus due diligence on a real estate. And that’s where maybe the modern wealth building formula comes in. You probably have your own, I have lists and lists and lists of due diligence for developments, investments, whether it’s, wholesale fix and flip, but all of the real estate details, the nitty gritty in the formula. It has a process on how to find, we have effortless software, we find deals, we show you how to fund unlimited and how to facilitate those investments. So it really breaks it down in modules with over 40 lessons. And we’re really excited to launch in the end of January.
Lauren Cohen 24:52
I’m excited because I’m going to be a part of that launch. So I’m very excited that we had this call before you launched and how do people reach you because I would love for everybody to get access to this amazing modern wealth building formula.
Ken Van Liew 25:06
You know, it’s it’s not hard I keep it simple just you know, go to my website, it’s Kenvanliew.com and there’s a little button there, sign up or discover now and that’ll bring you some free stuff. And you could schedule a call with me and we’ll have a 45 minute strategy call and see how we can help you.
Lauren Cohen 25:29
That’s awesome. Well, I am looking forward to being a part of your world going forward. I thank you for your time today. I wish you a great day. Stay healthy, stay safe. Thanks so much. Once again. This is really, really good. And thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We’ll talk again super soon.
Thanks for listening to Investing Across Borders with Lauren Cohen. Make sure to check the show notes for any links and for guests contact information. If you have questions for Lauren, please reach out to her at FOUNDER@ecouncilglobal.com. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe, rate, review, and share the podcast with a friend.