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ATLANTA-Investors from Israel overlooked commercial real estate in the US a few years ago, thinking it was overpriced. Now that fortunes have reversed, those investors are back looking for value plays, with a little help this time.

Locally based law firm Arnall Golden Gregory has established an “Israel Team” to assist clients with commercial property purchases, along with other things such as immigration and litigation. The firm’s new segment is helped in large part by the availability of nonstop Delta Air Lines flights between its Atlanta hub and Tel Aviv.

“They’re really interested in income-producing properties,” Phil Skinner, an AGG partner working with the Israel Team, tells GlobeSt.com. “We are working with people who are looking at $100-million to $150-million transactions.”

AGG’s connections to Israel date back nearly five years since the firm hired Israeli attorney Shelly Rabinovitch, according to Abe Schear, also a partner in the firm. He says opportunities for Israeli investment in the US are much stronger now because that country’s economy is much more stable, particularly with the shekel currently worth nearly $4.

“They have a very good understanding of risk and reward” as it relates to distressed assets, says Schear, who has made several trips with Skinner to Israel. They also seek predictable long-term returns, he says.

Skinner notes that Israeli investors seek upside opportunity from commercial real estate, such as office properties with 20% vacancy or adjacent developable land. Now that those investors are coming back off the sidelines, they have a lot of questions that his team can likely answer, he says.

AGG recently handled the sale of three suburban office buildings totaling 110,000 square feet on nine acres at Northwoods Business Center for $5.6 million, or $51 per square foot. The buyers, a joint venture between Profimex (Israel) Ltd. and Atlanta-based OA Development, brought $3 million in overseas equity to the deal with the balance borrowed from The PrivateBank.

Rather than focusing only on the Atlanta metropolitan area or the Southeast, Schear says AGG is assisting Israeli investors in transactions nationwide. However, he says, the direct connection to Atlanta does help build as much familiarity with this market as they may already have with others like Miami and New York.

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