Ep. 16 – International Real Estate with Illana Cohen

Matthew Maschler:
Welcome to the Real Estate Finder podcast. I’m Matthew Maschler, the Real Estate Finder. I’m a real estate broker here in the state of Florida and like to talk on the podcast about real estate investing in real estate, living in real estate. I think the primary purpose that people buy real estate is to live in. Got a call actually today that someone that I know is getting married and needs a place to live. So if we like to talk about real estate here on the Real Estate Finder podcast, real estate investing, real estate buying and selling in the state of Florida, my website is realestate finder.com and I’m with Signature Real Estate Finder, a division of the signature real estate companies, and today it’s the first podcast of the New year. Happy New Year to everybody. Hope you had a great holiday and a festive Happy New Year and you stayed home in isolation if that’s what you chose to do or you went out and partied with a lot of people, if that’s what you chose to do. No judgements here on the Real Estate Finder Podcast. Stacey is out today and so with me today is one of my favorite real estate agents at the Real Estate Finder company. Her name is Alana Cohen and I’ll let her introduce herself.

Illana Cohen:
Good morning everyone. Yes. My name is Alana Cohen. I love working with Matt Maschler at the Real Estate Finder and I’m here in Florida for the last eight years and speak many languages and I love to assist people to purchase properties over here. And I am one of the specialists in Wycliffe Country Club in Wellington, l Worth area. And I look forward to answering all the questions from Matt or today.

Matthew Maschler:
Alright, that’s great. You’ve been here in Florida for eight years? Correct. Where in New York are you from?

Illana Cohen:
I’m not from New York actually. Oh, you’re not? No, I am actually from Geneva, Switzerland. Yes, I moved with the whole family about around eight, eight and a half years ago, something like that. Yes.

Matthew Maschler:
Really from Geneva, Switzerland?

Illana Cohen:
Yes, absolutely.

Matthew Maschler:
You lived there your whole life?

Illana Cohen:
No, not really. I actually lived in Italy as well in Milan when I first got married and then moved back to Geneva and now in south Florida, first Boca Ratone and now in Delray Beach.

Matthew Maschler:
So you got married, you moved to Milan, you married as tall, handsome Italian fashion model in Milan,

Illana Cohen:
Not even, I mean he’s handsome. He definitely handsome. I know you know him, but actually he’s British and we met in the south of France in Monaco. It’s not even in

Matthew Maschler:
Italy. You’re from Switzerland. You met your British husband in the south of France or Monaco. Those are two different countries and then decided to live in Italy.

Illana Cohen:
That is correct.

Matthew Maschler:
Alright, so it’s an international episode of the Real Estate Finder podcast and I think that’s one of a lot’s specialties is the international buyer has a lot of international buyers. You could see from my little inside joke, I handle a lot of buyers from New York and New Jersey, but Alana handles a lot of the international buyers and I could barely speak English, so I don’t know if I could speak a foreign language. So she gets a lot of the foreign national referrals here in Florida. You said you speak several languages? That is correct. So from the story that you just told, obviously you speak, what do they speak in Switzerland?

Illana Cohen:
Well, I was born in the French part of Switzerland,

Matthew Maschler:
French. There’s different parts of Switzerland that

Illana Cohen:
Speak different languages. Correct. There is a German part, an Italian part and a French part.

Matthew Maschler:
Is there a Swiss language?

Illana Cohen:
There is the Swiss ditch, which is mostly in the north of Switzerland. Yes. And like Zurich, if you go and you’ve traveled to Switzerland, you would probably go through the airport of Zurich. And that’s where they speak Swiss Dutch?

Matthew Maschler:
Yes. Okay. But primarily people are speaking French or Italian or German? Correct. What did you speak growing up? French. French. So Geneva’s in the French French part? Correct. And Zurich is in the

Illana Cohen:
German part. German basically Switzerland has many borders with different countries and Geneva is closer to the French border. That’s why I speak French.

Matthew Maschler:
Yes. Geneva is closer to the French Zurich. Closer to the German. German, correct. And then what’s the town that’s closer to

Illana Cohen:
Luo?

Matthew Maschler:
Luo closer to

Illana Cohen:
The Oh, Cuomo, which is just by the border.

Matthew Maschler:
Alright. And then we try to stay neutral here on the,

Illana Cohen:
But like Switzerland.

Matthew Maschler:
So you can’t stay neutral in real estate, you have to take sides.

Illana Cohen:
Well, okay, I’ll follow you on that.

Matthew Maschler:
I don’t even know if that’s true because in Florida we are allowed to represent both sides of the transaction. We represent the party, we don’t actually represent the seller or buyer as an agent. Agency theory, we’ve talked about that in other episodes. So we’re transaction brokers in Florida. So we do stay neutral. We’re transaction brokers. There

Illana Cohen:
You are.

Matthew Maschler:
I don’t know, it’s just a weird American joke I guess about Switzerland.

Illana Cohen:
Neutrality. Well no, it’s not only America.

Matthew Maschler:
Everybody makes that joke.

Illana Cohen:
Everybody. Yes, it’s not,

Matthew Maschler:
It’s funny. These are okay stereotypes to make. It’s not

Illana Cohen:
Well if I can say I am never neutral at home. Never

Matthew Maschler:
Neutral at home.

Illana Cohen:
There you are. Okay.

Matthew Maschler:
Alright, so language. So you speak French,

Illana Cohen:
French? I have to start with yes, I did understand German. I used to speak it fluently, unfortunately lost that. But I speak fluently Italian, Spanish, obviously English and I understand Arabic and Hebrew as well.

Matthew Maschler:
Arabic and Hebrew as well. Yes. And you say Spanish, is there a Spanish border with Switzerland?

Illana Cohen:
No, no, no. That I actually learned growing up and having a lot of friends and actually family of my husband now that lives in Mexico. So we speak in Spanish and we practice. So it’s more the Latin, Spanish, I will say not the Spanish from Spain, but everybody understand each other.

Matthew Maschler:
Oh, interesting. I think you’re so European. So when you say Spanish, I’m thinking you learned Spain, European, Spanish. No, not, I think it surprises a lot of people that there’s country in Europe that speaks Spanish.

Illana Cohen:
That’s true.

Matthew Maschler:
That’s true. Very true. Yeah, I know it surprised me. I’ve been to Spain several times and I use my high school Spanish. I have about a hundred words and it’s hysterical. It’s fun to speak, but I don’t think I could really communicate or get my point across. Certainly couldn’t podcast in a foreign language.

Illana Cohen:
Well if you want we can do a podcast one day and speak or in Italian or Spanish. No problem at all.

Matthew Maschler:
French. I was in France and I don’t speak, I mean I took high school Spanish, maybe I have a hundred words. I don’t think I speak any French. And I was in France over the summer of 19 right before the Covid lockdowns. And when I’d go to the restaurants, I somehow managed to be able to translate the menu. I was able to read the menu and be like, all I know what that means, I know what that means.

Illana Cohen:
But did you study low by any chance? At one

Matthew Maschler:
Point? Well, but not in French.

Illana Cohen:
No, but I mean there’s Latin words, there’s Latin, some words

Matthew Maschler:
And some Italian. Well I know the Italian food words from growing up in New York state, New York. So between high school, Spanish and I never studied Latin, but really between high school Spanish and Italian restaurants, I was able to make my way around a French menu.

Illana Cohen:
Not bad,

Matthew Maschler:
But we’re here to talk about real estate. Absolutely. It is the real estate finder podcast, but they have real estate in all these countries and people from these countries that want to move to Florida. So if you’re listening from abroad and want to move to Florida, you can reach out to me, I’ll introduce you to Alana and she can make you comfortable in whatever language that you speak or you’re more comfortable with. And we can have your closings. Have you represented anyone that didn’t speak English?

Illana Cohen:
Oh yeah, many times.

Matthew Maschler:
No English.

Illana Cohen:
No English

Matthew Maschler:
Whatsoever. You got them all the way to closing? Absolutely. Oh, that’s amazing. Yes. How do they sign their documents?

Illana Cohen:
So the Association of Realtors down here also has a contract that is also translated in Spanish. So if you need to, I’m not an attorney so I want to make sure that we say everything right. But in general it’s pretty easygoing. It’s an As is contract. They know that, the buyers know that and we just explain the different terms. And if they have any questions, again, I’ll go through the whole thing with them. And normally there’s no issues at all.

Matthew Maschler:
And I’m sure there’s Spanish speaking attorneys in Florida

Illana Cohen:
As well. Absolutely. Absolutely. No French though I have to say. You

Matthew Maschler:
Haven’t found a French speaking

Illana Cohen:
Attorney? No, I’m actually still looking. Lenders are starting to become, becoming and speaking French, which we didn’t have that either, because I think it’s important for a buyer when they’re taking a mortgage that they have someone that actually can explain in their language the type of, I mean the different documents, all the different rules because it’s very different than everywhere else.

Matthew Maschler:
And even when you first have your initial conversation with your lender, you have to find the right product, whether you’re a first time home buyer, va, FHA, there’s the right product to find and the right lender with the right mix of products, asking the right questions can get you into the right mortgage. So I’m sure that that is a struggle for someone who doesn’t speak English and a lender who doesn’t speak that language. Definitely. Alright, I’m going to take a little note here. We got to look for a French speaking attorney. There should be some. There should be

Illana Cohen:
Some there. I mean a lot of them, if they speak, they speak a little bit, but they do not want to actually do a transaction in French because we have a lot of French Canadians as well that are French

Matthew Maschler:
Canadians

Illana Cohen:
That are moving here. And a lot of people from France. I had some customers from France and from Switzerland actually that moved to Florida.

Matthew Maschler:
And I wonder, any lawyers that might’ve, if their family are from Haiti that may speak French, you would think that that would exist down here in Florida as well. So if they’re from Haiti or their family’s from Haiti and they speak French, you would think there’d be lawyers in that community as well. So I wonder if that’s something we could reach out to find. That’s the international flare of living in this area of world. We will find a lawyer of Haitian descent to translate a contract to a French Canadian. That

Illana Cohen:
Would be great. I would appreciate that. That would be amazing. All

Matthew Maschler:
Right. Yeah, we’ll find that for you. And that’s what I like about the podcast. That’s actually what I like about being a broker and having agents under me. I like to be able to just brainstorm with my agents what their issues are and how we can solve them or work around them. But anyway, getting back to real estate, one of the things I did ask Alana to speak about today, those of you familiar with South Florida Real estate know we have a lot of gated communities, HOA communities, and we have a lot of country clubs with the mandatory buy-in. And it’s for people who are vacationing to Florida. It’s a great thing. A lot of New York International and New York Northern customers want that Florida lifestyle. They want that country club with the restaurants, golf, tennis, and social life. But then you have a lot of people who live here that it’s a plague.
They don’t want that. Maybe they see a house online at a price that they think they could afford 350,000 maybe for a four bedroom house. And they think this is great. And then they find out about an 80 or a hundred or $125,000 equity buy-in and $20,000 a year in dues. And they think they were bait and switched a little bit. So talking about that, we have country club communities in Florida, mandatory membership, all different price points of the houses and the country clubs. And something that Alana has recently found a lot of success in is a country club. Where is it? It’s in Boynton Beach?

Illana Cohen:
No, no, it’s in the area of Wellington. Lake Worth.

Matthew Maschler:
Area Lake Worth, Wellington. Yes. A little bit West.

Illana Cohen:
West,

Matthew Maschler:
Correct. It’s about eight miles from the beach.

Illana Cohen:
Yes, something like that. Correct.

Matthew Maschler:
About eight miles west off of 4 41 in Lake Worth. And what’s the club called?

Illana Cohen:
Wycliffe Country Club. It’s

Matthew Maschler:
Called Wycliffe Country Club. And a few months ago, I’m sure it’s not current, but a few months ago when I spoke with Alana, we went up and did a tour. She had four listings in country club. And I’ve saw those four listings. I haven’t actually seen the club. I’d like to, it’s on my to-do list for 2022 is for myself to become more familiar with the club. Do you find the club to be a lot of retirees from the northwest? No,

Illana Cohen:
Actually there’s a little bit of every age, to be honest. You’ve got retirees, but you’ve got families. Honestly, it’s suited for everyone. It’s a small country club. It’s a more boutique compared to some other country clubs that we know. For example, Boca West Country Club, which is a much bigger one, but you do have two 18 holes golf courses in that specific country club, which is a very big plus if you are a big golfer, a lot of amenities. You’ve got tennis, you’ve got boce, you’ve got so 15 tennis courts, you’ve got the spa, that restaurant, a fine dining called the Cliff. Really beautiful. And they’ve just had a renovation, so they just remodeled the whole clubhouse country club and they paid around 18 million for that and they finished earlier. So it’s really beautiful.

Matthew Maschler:
Well, that’s great. That’s great. So what does it cost to join? So

Illana Cohen:
Basically you’ve got, which is very funny, but you have an initiation fee of a thousand dollars for any type of membership. And then the actual initiation fee is now $84,000. So total is $85,000 to be able to join ycl. And then after that you’ve got annual due depending on the type of, well we call it membership. So if you’re a big golfer, you will take the highest one, which is the platinum, and the annual juice for that is around 16,000. Then you have the gold membership, and that is, so you’ve got partial access to the golf course, so you have a little bit more limited time tee times on that one. And that is $14,000 a year. And then the silver membership, which is the lowest one, it’s in the dues. And again, I’m running up here, it’s around 11,000 right now in annual dues.

Matthew Maschler:
So then at the silver membership, it’s not golf, but it’s tennis, the health center, the pool, correct. The lifestyle. Correct. 85,000 either

Illana Cohen:
Way doesn’t change. No, that’s for all memberships. So if you want to buy in Wycliffe, you have to pay the 85,000

Matthew Maschler:
Bucks, so 85,000 to join. And then you have a choice of what I call a social membership, a golf membership or the in-between, which is, I’ll call that, I usually call that a sport membership, which gives you limited access to golf and that seems to be the going rate for some of these country clubs. What was the difference between the thousand dollars and the 84,000?

Illana Cohen:
So basically the initiation fee is what is non-refundable, which is 84,000, and then they call it the membership. As

Matthew Maschler:
For the equity,

Illana Cohen:
Which is the equity at 1000. Yes.

Matthew Maschler:
Yeah. See in the seventies and eighties when a lot of these clubs were built, they were equity club and an equity club meant that the members owned the club. Some country clubs were corporate owned, the company that either the developer or the company that bought the club from the developer, but a private company would own the golf course and the amenities in the restaurants, et cetera. And they would run it as a business mandatory membership or optional either way. Obviously the club would prefer the mandatory membership, so people would have to join, but they didn’t own the club. A private company owned the club, an equity golf club, an equity residence. The members own it and that’s why the members make a board of directors and they’ll have a president, et cetera. So most of the clubs are equity clubs. And because you’re an owner, when it’s time to sell your house, you also sell your equity in the club and maybe you get 80% of your equity back.
So at one point, and I would just be making this up for Ycl, at one point in the seventies and eighties, it might’ve been about 30,000 to join, but you got most of it back. Maybe you got 24,000 back. So it was like no risk. Over the years they’ve lowered the amount of equity, raised the amount of initiation, so now it’s $85,000 to join. And maybe of that a thousand dollars equity, you get $200 back or a dollar back. Correct. I think at Boca West you get a dollar back back and that’s how it’s still legally equity, you own it, but when you sell your shares of the club, you get a dollar.

Illana Cohen:
It’s crazy.

Matthew Maschler:
What’s hard about that, I understand it and I understand the club needs money. Basically it’s a way for the club to raise money without raising the dues or making an assessment. They’re basically raising the fee on future members. The problem with it for me is if you’re going to come to Florida and you buy a house anywhere you go, you buy a house, you live in it, you want to leave, you sell your house. There are people that come to Florida that have a contract. Maybe you got a three-year contract with a school or a sports team or whatever company that you’re with. They gave you a three-year contract. You want to play golf, so you want to be in one of these golf communities. But to pay $85,000, it’s one thing if you’re retired and you’re going to live there forever, but to pay $84,000 when you’re on a three-year contract and you don’t have control over if you’re staying in the area or not, maybe when your contract’s up, you get a better offer in some other state, you go to sell your house, well, you may not want to give up that equity so people become hesitant to do it.
But then in the three years you live here, you’re not a member of a course, you have to join maybe the Boca Resort or just play at the public or municipal courses. So it makes it an option. It makes it less likely of an option that a person who would want to join one of these courses. I don’t mind the limitation. I don’t mind somebody if they don’t want it, but not break my heart, breaks my heart. But what I’m looking for a solution for in general is for someone who’s here on assignment or on a contract, and I’m still trying to answer this question, where should they live if they want to play golf, but they don’t know that they are going to be here longer than three years?

Illana Cohen:
Well, if I may maybe just add something. If you look at the prices, for example, I still have another three listings right now that are aiff in Whitecliff Country Club. And if you look at one of them, that is at 2 85 right now. So let’s say you have 2 85, you add the membership equity, which is 85,000. So that takes you, maybe don’t quote me, but three 70. Three 70, okay. So you are buying a house which is a three bedroom, three bathroom, over 2000 square feet house in a country club. So it’s a gated community. So you have the security in one way, you have access to all goal course, you’ve got access to the spa, the pool. If you had to be a member of anything else and having to purchase, as you said before, if you’re having a house and you have to purchase and go and play for an 18 hole golf course on like a Boca Raton Resorts, et cetera, you’ve got to pay a lot more money over here. Let’s say if you take the top one, which is the platinum, and you have to pay $16,000 in dues. Let’s say you want to go to Equinox for the gym as well. How much does this cost? I mean, we’ve made a comparison with some customers of mine actually. And I mean Equinox I think was about $8,000, for example, for a membership for a year. So if you add everything up and you can walk to the clubhouse, you can do so many different things that you can’t do if you’re

Matthew Maschler:
Active. Yeah, I went to a negative place, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the country clubs. I think it’s a great lifestyle. I highly recommend it for someone who wants to play golf or wants to play tennis or wants a social life with cards and restaurants. I think the mandatory membership country clubs in South Florida are great. I love them. I recommend them for that type of person. And when I said, or there are people with end golf and tennis and cards and social life, the people that live in these clubs are very happy. I’ve never seen happier people maybe in college. But the people who live in Wycliffe, Glen Eagles, Boca Woods, Boca West, they, they’re very happy. The only reason I went to a negative place is I’m trying to get someone into the club that’s happy that the drawback, the negativity is not just, my negativity is not on the price, not on the $85,000.
Excuse me. My negativity is on the person who they’re not ready to commit. They don’t know if they’ll be living here for long enough to make that worth it. And that’s the hack I’m looking for, but that’s not the one we’re talking about today. It’s Whitecliff Country Club. When I back in October, I went up there with you, with Alana, we looked at four of your listings and they were great. There was some townhouse style, there’s single family home style, some with wonderful views. And I think of the four that we saw in October, I believe you closed, you sold two of them already. So

Illana Cohen:
Actually I had six listings in there, and actually we sold three and we have another three. And I actually sold another two properties as well in there without being an agent. So you

Matthew Maschler:
Represented the buyer?

Illana Cohen:
I represented the buyer twice,

Matthew Maschler:
Yes. Right. So when I saw you in October, you had four listings that I saw, correct. That were available. Maybe there was one other that wasn’t available. You sold two, you picked up another listing since then and you’ve picked up some buyers since then. So yeah, when I call her the Queen of Wycliffe, that’s why Wycliffe Alana Cohen. That’s why I like that. Yeah, that’s why I wanted to get her here and talk about that. So there’s two golf courses, 15 tennis courts. Do they have pickleball?

Illana Cohen:
They have pickleball, yes, absolutely. They have four small pickleball. Four

Matthew Maschler:
Pickleball.

Illana Cohen:
Courts. Courts. Correct. In total, you’ve got 1,045 properties inside of

Matthew Maschler:
1045 homes.

Illana Cohen:
Correct. And there’s 14 subdivisions. So each subdivision has kind of their style. You’ve got some that have only condos, some that have only villas, and then the others that have the big single family homes.

Matthew Maschler:
And it’s in Lake Worth. It’s a Lake worth address.

Illana Cohen:
Some of it is in the Lake Worth address and some of it in Wellington. The people that are actually in the Lake Worth address love it because they have a discount as well. I mean the taxes are a bit lower in the lake worth for some reason than Wellington. So it’s a big plus for people that have it under their address.

Matthew Maschler:
Do you happen to know, I don’t want to put you on the spot here on the Lake Worth side, are they actually in the city of Lake Worth or are they in unincorporated Palm Beach County?

Illana Cohen:
That is a good question. I have to be honest with you, I’m not sure. So I’m not going to say anything. I’m

Matthew Maschler:
Guessing my hunches, and I don’t know for a fact, if you said that the Lake Worth side has a little bit less taxes, my guess for why that would be, it would be that the Lake Worth side is an unincorporated Palm Beach County, and the Wellington side is in the city of Wellington,

Illana Cohen:
Probably.

Matthew Maschler:
That’s what I’m guessing. We have that here in Florida where you have the city line or the city limits, and then outside of the city limits, you’re in unincorporated Palm Beach County, which is fine, but the post office needs to service all of these people. It’s the post office that creates the designations. So if you’re in unincorporated Palm Beach County in Delray, like Seven Bridges, it’s still you’re using the Delray Post Office. So on your address, on your driver’s license, it’ll say Delray Beach, Florida, but you’re not technically in the city limit. And I think my hunch is that’s what’s going on when you say that the Lake Worth side has less taxes than the Wellington side. If they’re both in the city, then it would just be that Wellington has higher taxes. But my hunch is unincorporated Palm Beach County. And so some of the differences are you have the county sheriff instead of the city police department, you have the county sanitation, there’s county libraries and county parks throughout Palm Beach County.
So if you live in the city of Bo Raton, you have access to the city library, city parks, and the county libraries. The county parks, same in Delray and same in Lake Worth out west and Boca, you have a great county dog park, but in the city you have the city dog park on military trail. So there’s certain technicalities that if you’re into politics, I was a government politics major. So if you’re into politics, it may be more important. But for all else intents and purposes, it’s a distinction without a difference. But you’re still in Palm Beach County represented by the great mayor of Palm Beach County, Robert. Right. He actually has a podcast that he does from the studio as well.

Illana Cohen:
Oh, nice. I didn’t realize,

Matthew Maschler:
Alana, what do you think of the studio

Illana Cohen:
Here? Oh, I love it. I love it. It’s the first time. I mean, I come often in that area, but I never saw this studio. I love it. I love it.

Matthew Maschler:
So shout out to Pod populi if you’re looking to make a podcast. I actually do two podcasts here. I have my Real Estate finder podcast that you’re listening to now, and I have my Matthew Mania podcast. It’s a little bit more personal. We don’t talk about real estate or investing, but we talk about wrestling or other social activities and charitable initiatives done through Math Mania. But appreciate you listening to both or just this one. And the podcasts are available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Audible, Google Podcast. So the podcasts are available wherever you get podcasts, but obviously you’re listening to that now. So that’s great. We’re actually going to start a T-shirt store soon. That’s what I’m working on this week to get the Realty Finder podcast, t-shirts made up and Matthew Mania podcast, t-shirts made up. If you’re listening on Monday the 17th, this episode will drop Monday the 10th.
So next week, Monday the 17th, we’re doing the Matthew Mania podcast live at the Beer Garden restaurant at six o’clock here in the Pink Plaza, RO Palm Plaza. So I’ll give a shout out for anyone who’s listening who wants to see the podcast live. There’ll be about seven or eight different podcasts live that night on Monday the 17th, the Pot Appalooza. And that is here at Ro Palm Plaza, the Pink Plaza in Boca Raton. And so anyway, Alana, thank you for coming. Nancy Boku, I’m not trying to finish the episode. I’m just trying to ask you what you think of the studio here. Okay, so back to Wycliffe. There was one of the units that I was in that first day.
I had an idea, I loved it. I fell in love with this unit, but it was blank. It was a blank unit, no furniture at all, no art. And I was looking at the comps and I was looking at a unit a few houses down that was furnished, but it was terrible. It was terrible furniture like grandma furniture, all outdated, outdated art, outdated florals and outdated furniture. And I went, wow, this unit looks great. Furnished while we were standing there, right? If you remember. Yeah. So we got the idea to stage that property and I thought if the property would look good with bad furniture, how good would it look with professional furniture? So I introduced Alana to a friend of mine, Gina, the stager at, was it Elite staging?

Illana Cohen:
I’m going to be honest,

Matthew Maschler:
I’ll look it up, I’ll look it up. But while

Illana Cohen:
Gina was amazing, she was amazing. She did an amazing job and we had so many showings. The minute we put it back on the market as staged up, it was just stunning. It was modern, it was the right colors. She was just amazing. And actually, we got on the contract, I brought the buyer and we got on the contract within two days of having it staged, two, three days. So yeah, it definitely made a difference for that unit and it’s definitely something that I will continue to advise my sellers to do specifically when you have that type of property.

Matthew Maschler:
So we staged it all new photos and immediately a slew of new appointments. Yes. And an offer, someone who did not see it when it wasn’t staged.

Illana Cohen:
Well, no, actually they didn’t see it when it was in stage. Just so you know as well, this property was on the market for a very long time before with another agent and they never sold it. So I was very happy.

Matthew Maschler:
Did you sell it for more or less than when it was with the other agent?

Illana Cohen:
We sold it for more. More, yes, we did. It was definitely worth it. And the buyers were so happy they actually bought the furniture as well. They loved it so much and they actually were able to move in straight after closing thanks to that. And they didn’t have to worry about anything of bringing furniture, et cetera. So it was really great.

Matthew Maschler:
That’s amazing. Such a good success story. Have you done any other staging with her? So

Illana Cohen:
We are working on another one that we’re thinking of doing now. It’s just a matter of convincing that seller who is a little bit harder to convince, even though I had this success story and it should lead to more positive experiences, but for now, the seller is a little bit hesitant still.

Matthew Maschler:
So on the Facebook page for the Real Estate Finder podcast, I’m going to put a link to the pictures of the house that was staged. So if you are on Facebook, if you look up Real Estate Finder, a podcast, Matthew National Broker or Real Estate Finder podcast, I have to clean up that Facebook page. But remind me, and I’ll put some pictures, some before and after pictures up so that people can see it. But that’s amazing. We were able to stage the property, sell it quickly for more money, and it looked great. It was such a nice property. It’s weird, we talk a lot. In 2021, there were so many properties that were sold sight unseen. I personally was involved in three transactions where the buyer had never seen the property before closing and before 21, I could never even do it. I mean it, I had no faith.
I don’t like to negotiate. If I’m listing a property and someone hasn’t even seen it, they start negotiating the price with me. I’m like, come see the property first and then we’ll negotiate the price. But in 21, we had to start doing that. And whenever I go to a property, it’s never like I think it will be I am, I’m looking at something online, I go to see it, I go to show it. Sometimes I like it more, sometimes I like it less. I’m always a little bit surprised. And the day that I did see your four listings at Wycliffe, the house that I expected to like the most, I didn’t like as much as this house that we staged and the house that we staged. I had no opinion about it because it was so bland online. And even before staging, even when I walked into it, I went, this is the right house. This house makes a lot of sense. And I could really see somebody living there. And that’s why I pushed to have it staged because we needed people to be able to see that online because we are living in an area where people are buying sight unseen, they’re in their couch, even if they’re local, they don’t want come see. So they see the house online and they’re not moved to make an appointment even if they’re local, let alone if they’re from out of state or with your buyers from out of the country.
How are your international buyers responding to the mandatory membership country clubs? Maybe it’s not something they’re used to. Is it something that

Illana Cohen:
They definitely are not used to that. I mean, I also lived in a country club when we first moved to Florida and it was like being on holiday every day. It was something very unusual, at least for me, coming from Geneva. Didn’t look the scenery, the beautiful golf courses, palm trees everywhere, very, very well cured and maintained. Again, it’s a very, very different lifestyle over there. So not everybody is familiar with it, but I have sold a number of properties to international buyers because that’s the type of lifestyle they were looking for.

Matthew Maschler:
It fills their dream. They want to come to Florida, play golf, play tennis, go to the pool and live in a resort community. And it fills their dream. But

Illana Cohen:
It also could be for second homes. So if they want to come just now with Covid, it’s been a little harder for people to travel as much. But at one point we did have people that wanted just to have a second home that they were from the UK or wherever, and they just wanted to be here for the winter season when it’s cold over there and they could do it. So why not? It’s a very nice, again, it’s a very nice lifestyle.

Matthew Maschler:
That’s amazing. And you said that when you moved here eight years ago, you bought in a country club community. Did you want to be in a country club community specifically? Were you looking at houses and ended up in a country club community or were you looking at country club community? Did you pick a country club community and then look at the houses there?

Illana Cohen:
So actually we were looking for a house. We didn’t even think of anything else. Me as a European Swiss, I’ll say that I was very worried about security. We hear about guns and shootings, et cetera, and I had teenagers. So for me it was very important to be in a gated community. I didn’t know if I wanted to be or how safe it would be not to be in a gated community. So that’s the first thing I was looking for. So gated and then the house, and we just fell in love with the house we found. And it was in a country club and it was not a lifestyle that we were used to, but we kind of got used to it very quickly.

Matthew Maschler:
And then sometimes I try to get off topic, off the real estate topic and talk a little bit personally, but you mentioned your teenagers, how are they?

Illana Cohen:
They’re good. They’re good. Well, they were very happy as well. I think they learned a lot. Having to study in Switzerland and then here in America was a great thing for them

Matthew Maschler:
Immediately before coming here. They were in school in Switzerland? Correct.

Illana Cohen:
And in the UK actually, my son was in the uk.

Matthew Maschler:
In the uk. And where is your son now?

Illana Cohen:
No, he’s in Boston.

Matthew Maschler:
In Boston. What is he doing?

Illana Cohen:
He is doing degree in social work, but he just graduated from bu, Boston University. Boston

Matthew Maschler:
University, yes. Oh, that’s amazing. And your daughter?

Illana Cohen:
And then I have a daughter, my middle daughter, I don’t know if I can, I mean, I’ll still say it. My middle daughter, I’m very proud of her. So she graduated here and graduated from SV, the School of Visual Arts in New York. And she’s actually working for Pixar. So she worked on a lot of the films. She doesn’t like for me to speak too much about it because a lot of people start jumping and asking her question and whatever after. But she’s brilliant and very proud of her. And then my baby is just graduated early from FAU Honors college in Jupiter. She is just 21 and she’s actually working now in an ER in, but said West, I think it’s called a hospital. Very proud for now she’s doing that until she applies to medical school.

Matthew Maschler:
Oh, that’s amazing. All three sound amazing. But I’ll back up a little bit to the middle daughter that you said she doesn’t like when you

Illana Cohen:
Doesn’t want me to brag about

Matthew Maschler:
It, she doesn’t want you to brag, but I forget what movie it was, but when it came out, didn’t you guys rents the entire movie theater and invite everybody did

Illana Cohen:
It? Yes, we did. Her name was going to be in the credit for Onwards, onwards, onwards. And it was there and we just screamed. It was just the first time we saw the name of our daughter on the big screen. It was pretty amazing. I mean, she worked on all the sea characters in Luca as well, so she’s seen, so she modeled them and then she rigged them, which she puts this bone structure so that the animator can actually make the move.

Matthew Maschler:
She modeled them in Clay?

Illana Cohen:
No, that’s on the computer. On the computer, everything to make that four D. So people draw it like 2D and then she modeled it on the computer so that to give it its shape and et cetera. So yeah, pretty amazing. Nothing that you would think of, it’s just very different when you see someone doing it and how complicated it is than, yeah, very, very complicated.

Matthew Maschler:
Oh, we’re very proud of all three of them here on the Real Estate finder team at Signature. And I’m sure that there’ll be even more great things out of all three of them. Oh

Illana Cohen:
Yeah, for sure. I have no doubts. Just to brag a bit more about that one though, she did get an Oscar, a student Oscar as well for her thesis film that she did when she graduated from SVA. And so we have it at home. It’s pretty cool to have an Oscar. And she was also nominated for the Festival de Can in France. And unfortunately because of Covid, she wasn’t able to go there and we just don’t know the results yet. But she’s invited for next in May this year, 2022. So let’s see.

Matthew Maschler:
So it will be in May.

Illana Cohen:
Yes, she will be going. She was nominated, but they didn’t do the whole ceremony, et cetera for those films. So they’re going to be doing it this year in 2022.

Matthew Maschler:
So at the film festival, there’s the award ceremony. Correct. And it’s, she was nominated for 2021. They’re going to combine the awards Correct. For 2021 at the 2022 festival. Correct. That is amazing. And she’ll possibly be able to go in May.

Illana Cohen:
I hope so, depending on the pandemic, that stupid covid. Yes. But yes.

Matthew Maschler:
Well that is great. So while you’re in come, if you go make sure you spread the word about Boca and Wycliffe. Absolutely, absolutely. And different country

Illana Cohen:
CS opportunities. I always do wherever I go. Definitely.

Matthew Maschler:
I think some of these movie directors may have to think about Florida because Florida’s very open for business. I think it’s funny that in California where a lot of movies and televisions were made, and then throughout the closures in 2021, they couldn’t obviously make movies and make TV shows. But in Florida, our governor deemed professional wrestling as an essential service, so only essential workers could go to work. And he deemed wrestling to be an essential service. We talk about that on the Math Mania podcast, but there’s two wrestling companies in the country. Both of them are Florida based. So the WWE that people are more familiar with, they have the performance center in Orlando and then a competing company. All Elite Wrestling is out of Jacksonville, the Khan family that started that a few years ago. So both of those companies were able to film and do their shows, their weekly television shows and their monthly productions in Florida. They never missed a week of programming of live programming because that’s the attitude Florida had towards business and keeping things open versus other states. And whether you agree with it or not, it’s a big reason why people are moving to Florida because of the pro-business attitude that the government is taking during this pandemic. And it’s really affected our real estate market where we’re running out of inventory. I don’t have a lot of seller leads, so anyone out there who’s listening to me, if you’re looking to sell your house, contact me or Alana.
And whether it’s a country club or it doesn’t have to be a country club or really any price points, I’ve always prided myself on, I work with people, it’s not price points. So a $35,000 condo and a $3.5 million condo, they’re both somebody’s dream. So I’ve never really focused on the numbers and Alana more than anyone I know is like me where she gets that it’s a relationship business and it’s people and whatever your dream is, whatever your real estate needs are, that’s what we want to help with here at the Real Estate Finder podcast. So don’t think that just because it’s country club or just because there’s a certain dollar amount or oh, I can’t afford $85,000 to join a club that you can’t use Alana or myself or any other member of the team. We appreciate all of our referrals and all of our leads and all of our listeners. So shameless plug, and

Illana Cohen:
Just by the way, just throw it out there. I have listed properties outside of the US too. I mean obviously joining with some other realtors, but I had one in Israel. We had one in Puerto Rico that I had shared at the time with Ivan. I dunno if you remember that. Sure. And actually I have two people that funny enough reached out to me this week for other properties outside of the US too. So not that we do that a lot, but if we can help some people that are local that would like some help from a professional here and would like to advertise it in the us why

Matthew Maschler:
Not? And the advantage of you helping out on the property listing in Israel is that you can market that here to buyers here who may want, was it a second home or an investment property in Israel?

Illana Cohen:
So this was a second home? Yes, correct. And they were just trying to sell it. That was just before the pandemic.

Matthew Maschler:
If you ever have Puerto Rico needs in the future, whether it’s to list or to buy, I do have access to the MLS in Puerto Rico. Excellent. Okay. Yeah, they participate in one of the central Florida MLSs. It’s called Stellar MLS. There’s about 18 or 19 different counties in Florida that participate in this giant MLS, Orlando Tampa and are the two big ones. But then a lot of the surrounding central area realtor associations, joint forces and Puerto Rico is included in that. So we do have the ability to list properties in Puerto Rico at signature real estate finder. We can list properties in Puerto Rico and we can search the MLS in Puerto Rico and represent not just Florida customers, but worldwide customers. We do sell Puerto Rico as part of Signature Real Estate Finder.

Illana Cohen:
And any other country or is it only Puerto Rico that you have that access to?

Matthew Maschler:
Well, it’s part of the MLS. It’s part of the Stellar MLS system, so I have access to that MLS you could do it, you could sign up as a broker. I’m a member. The signature real estate finder company is a member of the association in Miami, Orlando, Naples, Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Island. But through the Orlando Association that gives you access to Stellar MLS in Palm Beach County and Broward County and St. Lucie, those three associations emerged and have one MLS That’s right in this central Florida MLS system I was telling you about. They have different associations and they all share the one MLS. So it’s Orlando and Tampa are the big ones, but there’s tons of counties, 15 or 16 other counties that share the MLS, not the coastal counties. Every county on the east coast, north of St. Lucie, Martin has their own MLS.
And every county on the east coast has their own MLS. But in central Florida, Orlando, Tampa, and in that area, there’s 16 or 17 different associations that use Stellar MLS. Puerto Rico is included in that. So we have access to the MLS in Puerto Rico. Amazing. I haven’t listed anything or searched anything yet, but I know some of my clients that are into crypto are thinking of Puerto Rico because in Puerto Rico you’re still in the US right? So you’re still a US citizen living in the us When you’re in Puerto Rico, you could travel back and forth to the continental US from Puerto Rico pretty easily. But there’s favorable tax laws in Puerto Rico. So a lot of crypto investors are starting to, and other investors are starting to look at Puerto Rico as a place to live. So yeah, we do have access to that MLS. Great. But you sold the Puerto Rico property already?

Illana Cohen:
Yes. It’s been sold,

Matthew Maschler:
Yes. Alright. What was it like?

Illana Cohen:
It was gorgeous. I personally didn’t go because I co-listed it with Ivan at the time, but I saw all the pictures. It was just stunning. It was a very, very big property around 5,000 square feet, but just you had ocean. I mean you have the view on the ocean all around. It was just stunning. Really beautiful.

Matthew Maschler:
I like going to Puerto Rico to practice my Spanish.

Illana Cohen:
There you are. And we can work on it together as well.

Matthew Maschler:
I like to go to the old San Juan because when I was little and I’d go to Puerto Rico and the old San Juan was the highest of the high end and it was so beautiful. And when I go now, you still see the traces of that and they’ve remodeled it several times. But you still see some of the old elegance hidden. I don’t know if they changed the elevators, but crystal chandeliers in the elevators last time I was there was still there. Oh wow. But there was a big, I think it was a hurricane that hit Puerto Rico pretty hard. And I know ELs Juan remodeled after that, so I don’t know how much of it remained. But the Ritz Carlton in San Juan is beautiful, the El San Juan. And then I love walking around the old San Juan, that little historic area. So Puerto Rico, it’s an easy flight on Jet Luv between Florida and Puerto Rico. So it’s a good place to practice Spanish.

Illana Cohen:
Very tempting

Matthew Maschler:
With Covid. I haven’t traveled so much, but it makes it hard to travel. But that’s definitely something on the list. I’ve been meaning to get back to Puerto Rico.

Illana Cohen:
Well they are. You never know. Hopefully soon this year.

Matthew Maschler:
Yes. Yeah. Well there’s a lot of time left this year.

Illana Cohen:
That’s true. Just January. So got a long time to go. Excellent.

Matthew Maschler:
Alright, so as we finish up here, is there any last words or anything else you want to say? No, I

Illana Cohen:
Would like to say

Matthew Maschler:
It’s not Prego. Prego

Illana Cohen:
Prego, thank you very much. I wanted to thank you for having me here today. And if you have any questions as well, if you need someone that speaks different languages like French, Spanish, Italian, mainly, feel free to contact me.

Matthew Maschler:
How would they contact you?

Illana Cohen:
I’ll give you my phone number. It’s (561) 406-9055. They can also go on my website, which is translated in the different languages, which is fine. My house florida.com

Matthew Maschler:
And find my house. florida.com. That’s right. And the phone number again?

Illana Cohen:
Five six one five six one four zero six four zero six nine zero five five nine zero five five. Thank you. And you can email me as well if you’d like. It’s alana@signatureflorida.com.

Matthew Maschler:
Alana is I-L-L-A-N-A? That

Illana Cohen:
Is correct,

Matthew Maschler:
Alana, at signature florida.com or the website again, it’s

Illana Cohen:
Find my house florida.com. Right.

Matthew Maschler:
Also, if you go to realestate finder.com, there should be a connection for the team members and you have to make sure that we speak with Andy the webmaster and connect your profile with that website. Okay,

Illana Cohen:
Perfect.

Matthew Maschler:
Alright, well that’s it for today. Hope everyone has a very, very happy 2022. Thanks for listening to the Real Estate Finder podcast. And feel free to give us a like or a review or a plus on your podcast device. That’s it for me, Matthew Ashler. And I don’t know if I have a sign off. So that’ll be it.

Speaker 3:
The future looks bright and the storms pass by the sky’s dog. Blue. When it’s almost that time, life shows cameras flash when I pass living in the moment, forget about the past. They save the best for last. Matthew Mania. We about to make a splash. Life is a marathon full of sharp turns, got to keep pace while the hands on the clock turns high sticks. Five star real estate. I run a show. You can tell the boss, center plate electricity, energy. If I, I’m always on time. Even if I’m, I make dreams come true. Living my life. Same for you. Real clear view time. I give you a

Speaker 4:
It’s you know what time. It’s time. It’s time. You know time. You know what time. It’s what time. You know what? It’s

Speaker 3:
What time? You know Time. You know what time. You know what time? Whose time? It’s, you know what time. Yeah. Got him shook, scared. Can’t look. We’re not afraid of the big bad wolf.