Transcription of Episode

Intro/Outro 0:04
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 0:27
Good afternoon, everybody. I am Lauren Cohen, international legal and real estate investment expert. And I am here producing my wonderful, amazing podcast. Not that I’m patting myself on the back too much, but I have a lot of fun with it. Investing Across Borders, where we teach you how to invest, live, work, and play across borders, we would invite you to subscribe on all the major podcast channels. And we thank our amazing sponsor Lendai. They are out of Israel and they have created an artificial intelligence driven, financial platform to fund foreign investors into US non-owner occupied real estate up to four units. Only Canadians, Australians, Israelis and Brits so far. And it’s a great product because you know, as well as I do, dealing with global investors, it’s often challenging to get them financing and it takes forever, and there’s so much paperwork and Lendai truly solves that problem. So I want to thank Lendai for their ongoing participation. And ironically, just yesterday, the CEO of Lendai, Yair Benyamini, sent me a picture. He is a general in the IDF, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but it just did. And he sent me a picture because he’s on duty right now and he sent me a picture of him entering the tank, and I was like, wow, can I post that on Facebook? No, it’s for your eyes only Lauren. So anyway, Aaron and I connected I think like two weeks ago on my favorite platform, LinkedIn. And he reached out to me and said, Hey, have you heard about my podcast, the Global Real Estate Diplomat and of course I hadn’t at the time, but now I have. And we started talking and getting to know each other. And he was at the NAR, the National Association of Realtors Convention, which I missed this year due to my ongoing suffering from silly COVID. And thank you, Aaron for taking some time to be here today, from the cold city of Chicago, Illinois, across the water from my hometown of Toronto. So why don’t you say hi, and introduce yourself, please?

Aaron Masliansky 2:33
Thank you so much for having me on your show. It’s great to be here. And yeah, it’s cold here in Chicago. It was much nicer last week when I was in San Diego at the Association of Realtors Conference. It’s kind of surreal that winter comes every single year.

Aaron Masliansky 2:51
Listen, I remember it all too well. And I gotta say, I don’t miss it. As a matter of fact, it’s funny. I am going on a couple of cruises, and yesterday I was doing my online check in for one of them. And I realized my son’s passport expired in April of this year. Now usually we travel a lot because I’m from Canada. So we’re back and forth. But he hasn’t been to Canada since the pandemic started. And I was thinking of going after these cruises before he goes back to school at Christmas time. I was like, I guess it’s not meant to be. So I have to wait till Passover, which hopefully will be a little bit warmer, because, you know, the passport system is crazy right now. So I’m kind of like, you know, it’s bittersweet. But anyway, tell us a little bit about you know, your real estate practice, your global real estate podcast, what made you come up with that idea? I love the concept of being a global real estate diplomat, since that’s what I do on a different level.

Aaron Masliansky 3:51
You do, I mean, it’s very similar. And I’m happy that we came across each other. I’ve been involved in real estate since about 2004. I went to University of Illinois, and I got a degree in urban planning, focused on international development, not international real estate development, but more, you know, working for any organization. But I also liked development. I went into development, working for a real estate developer in Chicago. And we also did stuff in Arizona, and actually came out to Toronto. I went to meet with one of the lenders for our project and saw a lot of the stuff that they were helping to invest in, in Toronto. So that was really interesting. But then from there, I saw the industry go up and down and switched careers a little bit and then got a real estate license. So I’ve been a realtor for 10 years. And I’ve always had this real passion for global affairs. So I started volunteering for different organizations like the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Young Professional ambassador there. Got involved with Bill at the Holocaust Museum, The United Nations Association of America the Chicago chapter, I did a fellowship there. So I’m a Rotarian. I’m involved in all these different things. And a couple years ago, I started the podcast on my local area, Skokie, in Evanston, suburbs of Chicago, and started interviewing all these people, but really kept wanting to blend my passion for global affairs. And I got invited by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to do an interview live of one of their fellows at an event that they had. And I’m there and I’m talking to this guy, his name is Mark Peterson. He was the head of this organization called Intersect Illinois, which helps bring foreign direct investment into the state of Illinois. He said, Do you ever think about getting involved in global real estate? I’m like, Well, what’s that? I had no idea. So he directed me to different people, Illinois realtors, and then the Chicago Association of Realtors. And I started getting really involved, I went with them on a trade mission, kind of on a whim, to Thailand, which was an amazing trip.

Lauren Cohen 6:14
That is an amazing country.

Aaron Masliansky 6:51
Yeah. So I came back and was very involved. And I am now the chairman of the Global Real Estate Council for the Chicago Association of Realtors. And naturally, that kind of blended to the work that I was doing with podcasting. And I really wanted to focus on, and build a network around the world. So I started this show called The Real Estate Diplomat. It’s new, I’ve only released about four episodes as of now. But I’m talking to people all around the world learning about the experiences of what it’s like to buy real estate as an American outside the US, and why people come to the United States and invest here. It’s mostly real estate related. But you know, I’m even going to be interviewing somebody who had a refugee organization here in Chicago, and I have other ideas of different things, like immigration, in addition to my main focus of real estate.

Lauren Cohen 8:20
Yeah, well, they’re all complimentary, I mean, I’m an immigration lawyer, but my specialty is how to immigrate through real estate. And that only all came about in the past year, because I have had my real estate license for 14 years, but I did nothing, literally nothing with it until I joined eXp. And then I was asked to be the chair of the International Investment Committee with eXp Commercial. And basically, it’s just been skyrocketing since then. And, you know, I’m the go-to. People ask me legal questions about their transactions and stuff, it’s a lot of fun. Because I am definitely global. I’m globally oriented, globally minded and the company’s in 18 countries. So it makes a huge difference, because my footprint is that much larger. And certainly being global is the name of the game. Now, immigration and real estate are so closely aligned because a lot of people choose to invest in other countries and I have some clients that are investing in like four or five countries at the same time. So creating that cross border strategy for them, that international strategy is critical. And being that globally minded realtor, you know, most people think of real estate as local right? That’s why you said I didn’t even know what it was right? Yeah, I didn’t go buy the house down the street or let’s take the buyers out there. Let’s get the listing and it’s not.

Aaron Masliansky 9:47
No, you have people coming from all over and you know, once I started to understand what global real estate is, I’m like, Oh, I’ve been doing this for years because I’ve worked with investors from all around the world. China, India, Israel, wherever. But yeah, I think it’s so important. I mean, even yesterday, it was announced that App Properties, which is a very large brokerage in the Chicagoland area, bought Christie’s real estate, completely going global. And then here was a, you know, small brokerage that started basically providing developer services. And then they have just exploded with what they’re doing. So yeah, real estate is local and global.

Lauren Cohen 10:43
It is, and I’m sure you’ve heard about EB-5 being in the global space? So that’s actually what kind of funding all these EB-5 deals I did without taking any part of the real estate. I think I did 185 deals, and never participate on the real estate side. Like, that’s a little bit like, it doesn’t make sense to me when I look back at it. Because I think of myself as a very creative, out of the box thinker, but I never thought about the real estate piece. And all of them, especially in Chicago, I mean, there were tons and tons and tons of projects going on, putting up hotels all over the place. I mean, I have clients that probably put up I don’t know, 10 hotels and restaurants in the Chicago area, assisted living. And that’s where the foreign direct investment and indirect investment comes in, that you were a part of, and is going to have another hay day, once this pandemic really passes us by and and people, you know, we want to bring money back into the country and people want to invest in America, because it’s a little more stable economy, no matter what goes on politically, it’s always a more stable economy.

Aaron Masliansky 11:49
It is. And I think also, when people look at if you could have a green card or be a citizen of the United States, and there happens to be potentially another type of pandemic or you want to be able to get here. You know, I think that every country has dealt with the pandemic in different ways, and we were heavily criticized here in the United States at the beginning that we weren’t taking enough action to clamp down. But at the same point in time, it’s like, you know, I don’t really want to be stuck in my house for a year and a half.

Lauren Cohen 12:23
That’s why I’m so busy Aaron. I think we were talking about this, you know, I’m Canadian. And that’s what happened in Toronto, in the surrounding areas, in lots of Ontario and other parts of the country where people are just fed up. And now there’s talk of another lockdown. And so my phone rings constantly, because I’ve been through the whole process myself, you know, I’m a dual citizen, I had a green card, I had a visa, I did the whole process. And so I walk people through the whole thing, and really, it’s all about trust, right? Like it’s funny, we connected on LinkedIn, but then we found we had mutual relationships. And so it opens doors and builds that trust. Right now we haven’t met in person, but in the past two years who have you met in person? I’ll tell you a quick story. So Carolyn Ricciardi, she and I connected right near the beginning of COVID. And she’s in Calgary, Alberta, and she is a real estate investor. She just actually went to Richard Branson’s island. So she’s, you know, done very well. And she and her partner in Calgary are building a nice real estate practice. So anyway, we had met, but we had become like almost BFFs over zoom. We would talk regularly, share stories, talk about our kids, talk about our pandemic experiences. And here two years later, she just came into town before she went to Necker Island. And she stayed in my house for a night and it was so nice, because I got to see this person, and hug her. A person that I had really connected with on a very surreal level, which is really the silver lining of the pandemic. It has allowed us to build those trusted relationships that before it was kind of like, Oh, you want to sell real estate, you got to take the person, show them. Now it’s not like that. So the world has become an oyster for people like us. It’s even better in a lot of ways, right?

Aaron Masliansky 14:17
It is. I’ll bring up two stories. One, you know, just being in San Diego at the National Association of Realtors Conference last week. I got to meet a lot of people who I’ve connected with online over the past year and a half that I never met in person, like you’re saying. And one person who I met with. Her name’s Monica Neubauer. And she has the podcast for the National Association of Realtors.

Lauren Cohen 14:43
Oh, yes. I knew the name sounded familiar. I met her in New York.

Aaron Masliansky 14:46
Yeah, she’s great. And the Center for Realtor Development Podcasts and she had me on this past year, but we never met in person. She actually gave a seminar in 2017 at The NAR conference in Chicago that I attended about podcasting. And that kind of gave me the spark for my ideas. And then I was able to sit down with her and thank her and just have a nice conversation. And that was just wonderful, it’s a wonderful enhancement to the relationship. And then you look at how people can buy and gain trust or do things remotely. Even on that trip. When I was in Thailand, I took a day trip to Vietnam. And I went to some art shop. And I’m looking at it. And it was just the whole experience was amazing. And I saw some things. I’m like, this would be great in my home. So I called my wife, we video chatted, and we use WhatsApp. And just like she was able to measure out the size of something on our dining room table. And she’s there in Chicago, I’m there. So it’s kind of like a precursor to what we’ve all been doing. Yes. A year and a half, especially buying real estate.

Lauren Cohen 15:58
Yeah, for sure. I mean, who would ever thought this? I think it was this morning, I was interviewed by somebody in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. And she said to me, Well, how do people buy? Because I was doing a lot of promoting of projects in Orlando. And so she said, how do we buy? If we’re not there? Well, you can always fly and buy. Why do you need to be here? Like, first of all, a lot of the projects are pre-construction. So why does it matter? Let’s just show you on Zoom, or on the Internet, or whatever, you know, and we can do Matterport tours, and we can do virtual tours and video tours and FaceTime tours. I mean, there’s no shortage. So truthfully, unless you are kind of old school, which still some of us are, I think that we’re much more used to this virtual investing. And it’s definitely become a thing now doesn’t work as well, for clients that are looking for visas, because they need to have active involvement in running a business. But it’s still a little bit of a path and certainly has opened the doors for us to deal with people from all over the world. Because what’s the difference? If you’re in Chicago or in LA or in Bangkok? For goodness sake, it’s the same deal.

Aaron Masliansky 17:17
It’s the same deal. It doesn’t matter. I mean, I’ve worked with the virtual assistants, he’s in the Philippines. Like, what’s the difference? I send them an email just like anybody else. Like the people I work with, in the marketing department at Dream Town, the brokerage I’m with, they’re working remotely too.

Lauren Cohen 17:38
Right, exactly. I have two assistants, one’s in India and one’s in Morocco. So the biggest challenge is multiple time zones, right? Because you’re trying to remember and then sometimes some of them have the daylight savings, and some of them don’t. So now I’m 10 and a half hours instead of nine and a half hours. And those things are probably the most challenging, but I’m used to it. God willing, I’ll be back by summer in Israel. So I’m used to being seven hours ahead of most if I’m dealing with the west coast, or eight if I’m dealing with Central Time. So, tell me a little bit about your podcast and the kind of clients that you serve.

Aaron Masliansky 18:22
So the podcast is called the Real Estate Diplomat and you know, I want to speak with people who are realtors, CIPS realtors, people who are Certified International Property Specialists, so they can really have the extra training to be able to work with a lot of different backgrounds and cultures. And I have that designation, there’s about 4000 people around the world who do that, developers, diplomats, I’m going to be speaking with somebody at the US Embassy. And I want to talk to more people in that space, you know, people who talk about things why people want to invest here, and I’ll expand more outside, to the rest of the country as well. But it’s really meant for people who have an interest in global affairs, who have an interest in global living, maybe they have aspirations to own property outside the US, or maybe they think about moving to the US or investing in the US. So it’s really meant for that type of audience. And in many ways, it’s a lot of the people that I interact with, through some of the organizations that I volunteer with. In terms of my clients, I mean, I primarily work in the residential space. So helping people buy and sell homes, condos, investment property, whatever it may be. I’m really happy to work with anybody here directly in Chicago. And then I have that network of people that I know from outside the role to be able to refer people to, to make sure that they are being well taken care of.

Aaron Masliansky 18:32
Right. Well that’s important being well taken care of, looking after them, covering they’re process, ensuring that they don’t slip up in making these investments. Because it’s easy to do that. There’s so many legal and tax ramifications, which, you know, obviously is kind of my wheelhouse. But at the end of the day, having somebody with that global mindset is really important. And I don’t know if you know this, but I created a mastermind to help people build their international pipeline. Realtors specifically, and real estate professionals. I don’t even think I shared that with you. We just ran our webinar yesterday. And it’s really well attended, because a lot of people are confused about well, how do I work with foreign national? And how do I attract a foreign national? And how do I deal with a foreign national? And how do I set up that company? And what company should be set up? And there’s a lot of questions and a lot of uncertainty. And the reality is, it’s no different. It’s just a matter of making sure that they have the right representation at the end of the day. That’s what we need to do with our domestic clients, too right?

Lauren Cohen 19:53
Right. Well, I mean, even like your last episode, I listened to your show, you’re talking to an attorney in Texas, right? And talking about making sure that you have the, you know, should you be an LLC, should you be an S corp, I mean, those are really important in terms of your tax implications. So it’s, I think it’s critical to have the right people to be well taken care of in any type of respect, wherever you go. And I think as a professional in the real estate space, you owe it to your clients and to yourself to have that network and to build it and continue to grow in that space.

Lauren Cohen 21:29
Yeah, in Florida, I don’t know about Illinois, but in Florida, for a lot of realtors it’s just part of the practice of real estate here. But the breadth of obligation and responsibility given to realtors in Florida is completely different than in Ontario, where I’m from. In Ontario, they practice real estate and the lawyers do the real estate law. Here, there is really not a line. And it’s much more blurry in terms of where your real estate practice ends and a law practice starts. And I find that very complicated. How is it in Illinois?

Aaron Masliansky 22:10
You know, it’s interesting, I’m gonna be having the person on who’s the director of the Illinois Department of Financial Regulations for Real Estate. And we just met yesterday, we were talking and that episode will probably air in the beginning of the new year. But it’s different in different areas, you know, in Chicagoland area. And basically the way that the law is written in Illinois, as far as I understand, you know, the real estate agents are not allowed to write anything else on the contract, besides filling in the blanks. So it’s really up to the attorneys to practice the law, and I completely try to keep it separate. Now, I’m involved when there’s an attorney review call, defections, that’s different and I’ll provide my feedback. But yeah, in Illinois, it’s the attorneys. And what’s interesting too, is when you have people coming, who aren’t from the Chicagoland area, and they’re coming to buy real estate here. It’s kind of like you have to educate them about how the process works here, because they may be used to Florida, where the real estate agent takes care of everything, or the title agent does. It’s different here for sure.

Lauren Cohen 23:23
Yeah. It’s amazing to see those differences and to adapt to them and get used to them. And it’s like, sometimes, I mean, my partner is practicing real estate, you know, I’ve never listed a property my entire career. I’m a referral agent every single day. And I will be that for forever. I love giving referrals, I’ll be happy to bring referrals your way Aaron, especially international investors into Chicago. But the reality is, that I see some of what he does. And I’m like, it blows me away. Because if that, you know, where I grew up in Ontario, which is my mom was a realtor for 25 years, it just would never have happened. And here, it’s just mainstays. So just that alone is a big distinction. And then we know we have so much international investment and we have so many international people here, especially because, you know, Miami is right near South America and everybody’s coming here and so on. So we’re dealing with a lot of that, a lot of language issues. And and on top of that, you’ve got this breaching or broaching on the practice of law. So it’s a lot of responsibility for realtors for sure. It can get very very messy. So Aaron how do people reach you and find your podcast please?

Aaron Masliansky 24:36
So they can go to the to find the podcast. If you go to you can find everything about me. It’s got connections there to my real estate website, to the real estate diplomat website, which has links to all the places to listen to it, and then also to my other podcast that’s on hold right now. But I think at some point, we’ll come back on inside the scuff, which is about Skokie and Evanston. And if you want to email me, I’m at

Lauren Cohen 25:14
Well, that will all be in the show notes. And I thank you for joining us today. Aaron, I wish you Shabbat shalom. And I don’t often do podcasts on Fridays, but I had to change it because I had that mastermind yesterday. And why didn’t I invite you now that I think about it, because that’s why I had to change it anyway, come to the next one for sure. I want to again, thank Lendai in Israel for sponsoring this podcast.

Aaron Masliansky 25:38
By the way, that’s amazing that Lendai does, that they’re able to do that, because that is a really hard thing to be able to get if you’re not from the country.

Lauren Cohen 25:47
Exactly, and they ONLY fund foreign investors into the US. Yeah, and I will be happy to make an intro. They are amazing people. And actually they’re in the midst of doing all kinds of exciting things. And it’s I met there. I originally met them on LinkedIn as well. So when somebody asks me, What’s your favorite platform, it’s always going to be LinkedIn. So I’m Lauren Cohen signing off from Investing Across Borders, where we teach you how to invest live, work and play across borders, international legal and real estate investment expert. Thank you again for joining us today. Please subscribe to our podcast and we look forward to connecting with all of you. Thank you so much. Take care and thank you.

Intro/Outro 26:41
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 If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe, rate, review, and share the podcast with a friend.