Migration, they say, is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. Immigration can be difficult and does impact many families’ lives, however, with the right advice and approach, migration can be very enriching. Therefore, realizing the importance of global mobility and the struggles that go with obtaining the freedom, was one of the motivations for founding an investment consulting firm with real estate at its core - Millwood Kane International, says its founder & CEO Nish Bhatt in a Finapolis Conversation with Kumar Shankar Roy. As a migrant himself from Africa to the UK and the UK to Cyprus, it didn’t take much for Bhatt to realize that real estate plays an integral role in his client’s lives, regardless of what business they are in. Read on more insights about HNI realty investing, the post-Covid world for property as an asset class, and much more.
You describe yourself as a migrant of Indian origin born in Africa. You have lived in three different countries. What lessons have you learned from migration?
As a migrant from Africa to the UK and the UK to Cyprus, each journey has taught me something different. On the face of it, the world may not seem fair or just. But being a migrant, it has taught me to keep an open mind about people. If you treat people with fairness they always reciprocate, no matter where they are from or what social status. By taking the time to understand the motivations behind people’s actions, has helped me to really understand my clients’ pains and gains.
Additionally, migration was the driver in starting Millwood Kane International in order to allow me to help other likeminded individuals, who consider the world their home, people who are not inhibited by borders or bound by lack of imagination. Immigration can be difficult and does impact many families’ lives, however, with the right advice and approach, migration can be very enriching. Therefore, realizing the importance of global mobility and the struggles that go with obtaining freedom was one of my motivations for founding Millwood Kane International.
In your wide experience, what is the key to wealth creation in real estate?
Owning real estate for me is the best asset class to own in order to create wealth. Making the right real estate investment will offer benefits that no other asset classes can. Firstly, real estate will provide you with a return on investment, which will provide you with a steady income. Apart from that, a sound real estate investment can provide also great appreciation. If you aim to sell your real estate investment, you can make a profit just by waiting until your property appreciates. Lastly, one of my favorite key aspects of real estate investments is the fact that you can leverage against the property. Unlike other asset classes such as gold, with real estate, you can expect to receive loans against the property, which can help you purchase more real estate eventually creating a valuable portfolio.
Tell us about your business, Millwood Kane International. How and why is the Indian market important for your business?
Millwood Kane International is a real estate consultancy firm, consulting on Cyprus Real estate options, in combination with immigration services. We aim to offer a deep view of the benefits of Cyprus tax residency for individuals and companies, to understand how to leverage the country’s strategic location to harness the lucrative potential of expanding businesses into Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Additionally, by being Indian myself and understanding the core values that drive all family and business decisions in the Indian culture, I was able to see huge similarities with the Cypriot culture. This is one of the reasons why Cyprus became home for my family and me, and why I believe that this is a great option for other Indian families too.
How are Indian HNIs investing in real estate in other countries? What are the latest trends?
With recent issues regarding the global pandemic, one sector that will benefit significantly in the medium term is real estate. Interest rates are at record lows and in Europe for example, the base rates are negative. Countries have also embarked on quantitative easing like never before. This will create supply of cheap money for longer. Europe and the US are going to be seeing prices move upwards as demand for cheap money filters into real estate. Countries that offer not just real estate, but also permanent residency and citizenship rights as part of the real estate investment, will also be great beneficiaries. Countries like Cyprus and Grenada spring to mind.
Additionally, HNIs investing in international real estate has always been a prominent trend largely due to many Indians choosing foreign education as an option. Therefore, many HNIs invest in real estate for their children to stay during their time abroad rather than spending money on rent.
The globe is caught amidst a large-scale slowdown. What are the implications for overseas realty and when do you see a turnaround happening?
With this surreal pandemic happening, most industries are uncertain. However, the real estate is set to do well post-Covid phase. As an industry, real estate has held up rather well over the last 100 years despite pandemics, recessions, and geopolitical change. Whilst there are implications for overseas realty regarding the way real estate is being sold, the demand, and the prices of real estate, judging by previous events, the market tends to revert back after a few years.
As such, we are still continuing to invest in real estate as the prices are being reduced globally, and therefore if you have the cash-flows, now would be a good time to buy prime real estate for less, and hold it until the property appreciates in value.
This year you had announced a collaboration with RE/MAX India to bring Cyprus international real estate investment programs to Indian investors. Tell us about this opportunity.
We only partner with companies that have the same values as us and are looking to make a difference in the lives of our clients. This is why we are excited to collaborate with ReMax India. They hold a large network of trusted agents, and we are excited to work with them. Together, we will be further educating Indians about the opportunities in Cyprus. ReMax has a great reputation and skill set, and this combined with our first-hand experience and knowledge of Cyprus and real estate in general, we hope will make for a successful collaboration.
Over the last decade, your company pivoted to the Cyprus Real Estate market. How is your London business doing? Why the pivot to Cyprus?
Not necessarily a pivot, we are focusing on London and Cyprus side by side as they both offer different benefits. I tend to divide my time between London and Cyprus and with the help of the whole Millwood Kane team, we are working on both the markets successfully. It’s like children. The London business is our oldest child and Cyprus our youngest.
Investing in Cyprus was encouraged through living on the island, as we identified so much potential and opportunity. With its geographical location, business infrastructure, and immigration schemes with complimentary tax benefits we saw that Cyprus was able to cater to everyone’s business and lifestyle needs. That’s why we decided to spread the word!
Your company also runs Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) and Collective Funds. Tell us about that part of your business, the offerings and how do you manage investor expectations?
The AIF is a very versatile vehicle for fund investments as well as a way of holding family wealth and as such is very popular with family offices. It is a stock exchange regulated product meaning it is fully compliant with EU and international laws. It removes the necessity for complicated trust structures, which in turn offer great savings in the operation of such funds. Our collective funds are close-ended funds that are put together for specific investment opportunities. These funds generally run between 5 and 10 years and are a very good way for people who want to take part in a large real estate investment project and to be able to share the risk and rewards with other investors. Most investors who invest with us are professional in their investment outlook and as such enter into these funds being fully conversant with the risks and rewards that come from it.