I had the pleasure to speak to a spirited group of homeowners a few days ago in Delray Beach. I was invited to address a group of homeowners associations, but the group of 70 plus could easily have fit in with the people who walk through my doors every day.
They were frustrated, tired of hearing excuses, and they wanted answers on how the housing crisis will ultimately right itself.
Often the opinion that they conveyed to me, either directly or simply by the expression on their faces, was this — “What happened to the American Dream? Is it gone forever?”
And the answer is no. You may have to look extra hard for it, but it still remains; and it can be reached by everyone.
I found someone who is living the American Dream, and it made me smile. And in his story you will see the problem, but at the same time I think you will find the solution.
Why? Because the man, Eddy Kauffmann, lives in Switzerland. He is not an American citizen. At least not yet.
He is a retired banker who has found a way to turn this horrible mess of a housing market and use it to obtain his goal of becoming an United States citizen. At the same time, his success could have a positive impact on entire communities.
I in fact, come from Swiss lineage, as my mother was Swiss. The Swiss are extremely observant and methodical in nature. (See Swiss watches and banks!)
Perhaps that’s why this story caught my attention.
The U.S. government just agreed to let Kauffmann became an investor in a Miami company,TSG Capital Group, through something called the EB-5 Visa program. It allows foreign nationals who invest money here in the U.S. to obtain a green card.
Kauffmann is one of the first people to be recruited by a South Florida business through this program.
And what exactly does TSG plan to do with Kauffmann’s $500,000 investment? Buy distressed homes in urban areas, fix them up, rent them out, and ultimately flip them.
If TSG creates 172 jobs in the next two years, Kauffmann’s residency would become permanent and he could ultimately become a U.S. citizen.
So one way to get the U.S. housing market and our economy back on track, believe it or not, is to look beyond our own borders.
Kauffmann’s dream of becoming a citizen could come out of the ashes of the foreclosure crisis.
The irony here is delicious. But this isn’t a cynical story.
He is using his hard-earned money to obtain his goal of becoming an American, and in doing so Kauffmann could change the lives of countless individuals, either by helping them get a job or a new place to live.
If there is a better example of the American Dream, I haven’t found it yet.
Real estate companies should be JUMPING on this. Why more businesses haven’t been seeking out foreign investors through the EB-5 visa program is beyond me.
In fact the program is tentatively set to end this September, and it will be a crime if it is not extended.
There are many foreign investors who want to invest in real estate. Few places, especially now, offer the security and tangible assets that real estate does. Even though the real estate bubble burst long ago, I still believe that, and I explained that to the audience in Delray.
Immigration is the mechanism to righting the banks’ wrongs. Instead of closing our borders, we should be opening our doors to more Eddy Kauffmanns.
By seeking out individuals like him, businesses could reignite the American Dream.
We have all this excess inventory, houses that are languishing and not being used. It is a virtual Noah’s Ark of homes, and we need to bring people here to live, to spend their money, shop in our malls and eat in our restaurants.
I can not think of a better solution than to find people who will buy our excess capacity, live in them, and give others the chance to do the same.
So yes Virginia, the American dream is alive and well. It’s just brought to you by the Swiss and our other immigrant friends.
In The Trenches,