Global Investors Podcast
GI25: Investing in US Real Estate as a Russian Citizen with Attorney Yana Manotas
December 11, 2019
GI25: Investing in US Real Estate as a Russian Citizen with Attorney Yana Manotas

Yana Manotas is the founder and principal attorney of the Law Office of Yana A. Manotas, P.A., specializing in providing legal services to real estate buyers and foreign investors in Florida. Ms. Manotas received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law. Before forming her firm, Mrs. Manotas worked for an international company where she assisted multinationals with their real estate and corporate holdings and private asset protection. Ms. Manotas is a member of the Florida Bar Association. She is also President of the Russian-American Bar Association in Florida.

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Announcer: Welcome to the Global Investors Podcast, a show that focuses on helping foreign investors enter the lucrative US real estate market. Host, Charles Carillo, combined decades of real estate investing experience with a professional background in international banking to interview experts in all areas of US real estate investing. Now here’s your host, Charles Carillo.

Charles: Welcome to another episode of the Global Investors Podcast. I’m your host, Charles Carillo. Today we have Yana Manotas. She’s a founder and principal attorney at our law office based in Miami, Florida, which specializes in providing legal services to real estate buyers and foreign investors in Florida. Yana is originally from Russia and has been in Florida since 2007. She has graduated from both law schools in the Russian Federation and in the United States. So thank you very much for being on the show.

Yana: Thank you, Charles. Thank you for having me today.

Charles: So I will, I briefly touched on your professional background and are you able to expand on that a little bit prior to starting your current law firm in in Miami?

Yana: Sure, sure. My experience starts in Russia where I first obtained my legal degree, my first legal degree. Once I moved to the United States to Florida to be particular, I graduated from University of Miami, obtained my Florida bar license. And from then on my local labor career started to develop. I worked for a national firm where assisted in representation of a multinational in international arbitration proceedings. I also to work for a international company where we assisted multinationals as well with their real estate and corporate holdings and kind of asset protection. And with that international exposure and working with multinationals and being international myself, I continue and open my own firm where continued presenting foreign clients.

Charles: Okay. And are the most of your clients that are investing in the U S are they in here too? so they’re investing for cashflow or to make money or is it people that are coming from Russia, from other countries that are for a second home, a vacation home, something like that?

Yana: I see both. In Florida, you know, beautiful climate and beach. It’s especially attractive for Russian clients. The warm weather opportunities for children, education. All of those factors. Of course because of that we see a lot of purchasing of vacation home. But from that, and Miami is actively growing. It’s rapidly growing right now. It has a future infrastructure with banking and investment institutions, which allows foreign investors to feel secure and feel good about investing in the, the United States here in Florida particularly well. So we see both.

Charles: What does the, what factor pretty much attracts most people to United States? Is it like political, it’s a little bit more stable than other countries.

Yana: Definitely stability, definitely stability.

Charles: Yeah. Cause I see a in Miami as well, you have a lot of South American buyers that are coming in that have always been there. Especially like Venezuela, Brazil,

Yana: They’re all other kinds. Yes. We see that all.

Charles: Yeah, it’s great. And what kind of, what kind of properties are they mainly purchasing? The ones that you work with? Are they working with? Are they purchasing, say, multifamily apartment buildings? Specifically single condos? Different type of real estate assets are they focusing on?

Yana: I see my offices in financial center of Miami and [inaudible]. We have a lot of around here, a lot of new projects that recently been developed. Specifically it’s condominium buildings and we see a lot of interest from South American clients as well as American clients from New York in acquisition of those unions, separate condominiums buildings. I see. Personally, I have a lot of closing in that regard. I think it’s a buyer’s market right now, so people trying to take this.

Charles: Okay. What are the being I mean, being part of being from Russia, being part of the bar in Russia. You’ve definitely, what are the differences you see between purchasing properties in the U S verse Russia? If you had a client that was from Russia that was interested in the United States, how would you, well, how would you phrase it? What they’re going to find here that would be different from what they would find in Russia on purchasing real estate,

Yana: The process is completely different. Older. A lot of times clients come to Florida and they don’t realize that and they can continue with the thinking of the Russian you know, the process of how to purchase the property. So the first, what I would say the foremost, the most important is the contract itself. In Florida, when you, and we’re talking about residential purchase right now, when you want to purchase a unit, let’s say condominium you, your realtor will use a standard contract which will be used as a negotiation instrument. During the protests in Russia. That protest happens more most of the time verbally. In Florida, you put a contract, the uses the standard contract puts the price, sends it to the seller, seller looks at it most of the time by hand or through an electronic system or other systems that are commonly used by realtors, correct the price and send back a control. And then it goes back and forth a few times. Alternatively, this same agreement that was initially used will become the final contract that will guide and you know, will be the main contract for the entire transaction In Russia, you don’t sign a contract like that. You negotiated the price, you negotiate the terms of the closing and the contract itself is signed on the day of the closing. So a lot of times Russian buyers and specifically they feel like they can walk away from the transaction at any time until the closing has happened because it commonly happens in Russia without huge consequences. In Florida, it works very different. If you own the contract, there are certain obligations that you have to call. So that those is one aspect that is very different. Another thing that escrow is not commonly used in Russia for. It’s been more used recently. What I heard from my colleagues and fascia more and more, but it’s usually escrow the bank, not an escrow over attorney. So usually you sign the contract, you agreed on the price and you’ll have about three to five days to make your first initial deposit. Most of the time in Russia, it’s money handed to the seller directly. As you might know in Florida, in order to secure your transaction, the security deposit is made to the account of an escrow attorney. So the trust account or to an account of the escrow account of a title company. So that confusion, it confuses clients definitely a lot of times. And there are a lot of situations where the deposit is not being made to right person or to the right entity. And that’s why it’s important to consult with an attorney, I guess at that point as a potential buyer. And now their aspect which is interested is inspection period. In Florida, once you sign a contract to purchase, you have approximately, depending on what you negotiate at 10 to 15 days to inspect the property and to walk away from the transaction. If you don’t mind, it’s not very common to do inspections in Russia. At least during my time there I haven’t heard about that. I think it’s a very good to identify and to understand what you buy. And the another reason for that maybe because in the purchases in Russia, things like appliances or fixtures that are attached to the property, not necessarily part of there. Of what you buy unless it’s specifically included in the contract. So a lot of times my clients who common search, they found an interest in house or interesting property or apartment and they ask me okay, can we also purchase this kitchen that comes with it or will this be included the wine cooler or this and that. If I’m already involved in the process, a lot of times at that stage they deal with their real. But all those questions come up from specifically from Russian clients because it’s not common. And finally on this question is a title policy. At the end of the purchase in Florida. And I’m as being a title eight to myself, my firm wish you a title policy that you keep together with your recorded warranty deed as the document that you received at the transaction as a purchase in Russia. There is no idea. There is no such a concept as title policy period and then for many people it’s very confusing. Why do you need to insure something that happened before you purchase a property and that’s what pretty much what do you insure? You’re not insuring eighth in the future is typical insurance policy though. But you ensuring that the title that you receive and today’s marketable, it’s clean as of any deficiencies or any title clouds. And if anything come up in the future, the value of your property, what you have invested or up to your purchase price is protected.

Charles: That’s very interesting. What is the, usually in the United States, usually it’s 30 to 45 days from the time maybe we put a deposit onto the time that we can say we’re going to close on it. And most situations if we have a mortgage, maybe 60 days, the what is the normal time for the time from where you verbally are interested in a property in Russia versus a time they are actually purchasing it. Is that much shorter because it’s done verbally? Is that or is it longer or you know, it depends on your debt.

Yana: Yeah, it depends on the instituation. If you involve in a financing and the bank is involved, most likely it will be more or less the same what you see in the United States, about 30 to 45 days. If it’s a cash transaction and since we don’t have a con, if it’s a condominium, sometimes a delay in Florida is that you need to obtain a proper approval of the condominium management company to purchase. So to sell this unit in Russia, we don’t have that. It’s very rare. I actually, in fact, even if there’s a management company in place it, it doesn’t condition the purchase on its approval. So the timeline is there. A could could vary.

Charles: Okay. The when you’re, when somebody comes to you for the first time and they’re looking to purchase the property and what, say, I’m interested in investing or buying a property in the United States or in Florida specifically, what are the first few steps that you would suggest that person to take before actually looking at properties or before actually, especially getting into a contract?

Yana: I think the first in theory, I would recommend to sit down with a real estate attorney, sit down with a tax attorney and possibly [inaudible] [inaudible] state plan and the cherry right in, in practice and in real life. It doesn’t happen. My clients here on vacation, they arrived in their family to enjoy the beach over the winter and they started to look around and they the, the QRIS this, that it’s a called a friend, recommended them a real estate agent. The agent located them a property they are already leaving from their vacation and their real estate agent now contacts me and says, look, my client doesn’t even in five days, two days, a lot of times he found this property, what was giving it to them before. So that’s how it happens in real life. So I would highly recommend, so to think about it, the, with time and to, to come to this decision and together with your advisors

Charles: Is it suggested that they have counsel and representation in their home country as well that might be able to converse with you, especially if they’re rushing. I imagine that it’s not an out a problem.

Yana: Yeah. That will be very helpful for me to understand. The priorities for the specific client. If I can discuss you know, and understand the entire structure or the plan structure or recommend a structure to an advisor who is consulting the client in Russia specifically. So we can address all different aspects from each country. I will be very helpful in our holiday comment and in fact, every time I deal with a client I do suggest them,

Charles: Is it a problem of getting funds we have it with sometimes with Chinese investors in certain other countries in the middle East of getting funds out of their home country. So Russia and specifically is it difficult to get funds out if they’re going to purchase a property, say for, you know, cash in the United States. Is that, is that have ever been an issue for any of your clients?

Yana: I’m not a, I a, there are different ways transfer the money of the certain bank in disclosures that are in place and required. There are fees associated with that, but I haven’t seen a difficulty my clients to transfer funds. A lot of times they have for those clients that already have structure in place, some of their funds are dispersed throughout different entities and different jurisdictions. So it makes it easier from those jurisdictions that have no issues with on Russia specifically. I haven’t identified any art colonies in that regard.

Charles: Okay. Yeah, it’s just certain countries that I’ve heard that have had an issue, I didn’t know if that was similar with Russia. I’ve never heard it. So for your firm, a, you’re able to provide an addition to corporate formation and buyer representation. What other areas of law does your, does your firm cover?

Yana: W w we also assist with a landler all questions related to commercial Neeson. A lot of times especially with the clients that the facilitated their investment visas they, they’re required to have a restaurant. Restaurants, they need the commercial spaces. It’s office space. So, and again, with the different system of depressure with different, their immigration and churn, they’re trying to move on everything fast. Then commercial listen is very, it’s usually a long term contract and the contracts that are about 80 pages on average, so a lot of time clients just sign it out, right? They don’t want to worry about reading for that. So we guide our clients as well as the commercial decent process. And everything that comes through after signing the contract their dealings with landlord or vice versa with tenants. Mm. We also provide the escrow services to our clients.

Charles: That’s interesting. I imagine there’s a lot of handholding that goes in when someone’s coming from any country coming to a different country and they want to be involved with a business that might have licensing, like you said before, a commercial establishment a restaurant, something like this where they, I mean, even even Americans might not understand what’s going on with their licensing and you have to kind of guide them through the whole process of what they’re going to do, what needs to be done so they can stay, you know, above the board with their company and to make sure that everything pans out in their favor. So that’s very interesting. I know a couple of CPAs that work with getting, they’ll put together the LLCs or they’ll put together the ITIN numbers and they’ll help them to kind of fast track it through. Is that something that you work with, any CPAs on that, that help you to get the, get a client ready to do business or ready to what I’m trying to say. Sometimes it’s faster if you have a professional like a CPA that doesn’t versus if I went on and got my ITIN number. Is that something that you work with as well? To kind of fast track them along so they can get started quicker? Imagine if they’re in a rush.

Yana: We always work with CPS and the question of item numbers comes up a lot when their clients trying to sell the property. Because you’re probably aware of a few we’ve called in that we’re required to collect at the closing and P if there’s a 15% sent a withholding when the is a real estate transfer of anything above 300,000. There are certain exceptions to the rule, but we always work with the CPAs, so assistance with our training item number with filing all the required forms with the IRS. And definitely the process is much faster and it’s more reliable and everyone concentrates on their tasks, so we make sure that a client gets exactly what he needs time with.

Charles: Okay. Well that’s awesome. Yeah, it’s great to have that information. How can someone learn more about your business and about about yourself?

Yana: By going to our website, www Mamatas more.com by calling our office, we in Florida, our is three Oh five three four seven five one six. Oh,

Charles: Okay. And I will put all of your contact information and in the show notes for both the podcast and for YouTube. So I wanna appreciate, thank you very much for coming on the show and it’s a lot of value that you added and I know our listeners will be able to contact you if they have any questions.

Yana: Thank you so much for having me.

Charles: Thank you. Thank you very much. Hi guys, this is Charles from the global investors podcast. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you’re interested in investing in real estate and you don’t know where to begin, set a free 15 minute strategy. Call with [email protected] that schedule, charles.com [inaudible].

Speaker 2: Thank you for listening to the global investor podcast. If you’d like to show, be sure to subscribe on iTunes or Google play. To get new weekly episodes. For more resources and to receive our newsletter, please visit global investor podcast.com and don’t forget to join us next week for another episode.

Charles: Nothing in this episode should be considered specific, personal or professional advice. Any investment opportunities mentioned on this podcast are limited to accredited investors. Any investments will only be made with proper disclosure, subscription documentation, and are subject to all applicable laws. Please consult an appropriate tax legal, real estate, financial or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own information is not guaranteed. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. The host is operating on behalf of Harborside partners incorporated exclusively.

Links and Contact Information Mentioned In The Episode:

About Yana Manotas

Yana Manotas is the founder and principal attorney of the Law Office of Yana A. Manotas, P.A., specializing in providing legal services to real estate buyers and foreign investors in Florida. Ms. Manotas received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law. Before forming her firm, Mrs. Manotas worked for an international company where she assisted multinationals with their real estate and corporate holdings and private asset protection. Ms. Manotas is a member of the Florida Bar Association. She is also President of the Russian-American Bar Association in Florida.


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