EB-5 Investor Testimonial:
Siddharth from India

Select Highlights of the Interview with Siddharth from India
EB-5 Investor in the EB5AN Twin Lakes Rural EB-5 Project


I looked at a lot of EB-5 projects and soon realized that you have to find a project that aligns with macro trends in the area, whether geographical or related to the economy. Once I’d found a project, I would then look at the reputation of the developer or builder constructing the project.

After doing a lot of Google research to really be sure about the project I was going to invest in, I found EB5AN. A few good things stood out for me, including the pedigree of the founders. It gave me comfort to see that the team I was corresponding with were all highly qualified, intelligent individuals who had worked for global organizations.

Sam sent me the information about the Twin Lakes project in Atlanta. I was pleased to be able to verify a lot of the information that EB5AN had shared in its marketing materials.

When you select a project and want to explore the opportunity further, EB5AN will provide you with access to their Dropbox folders. I recommend that you go through every document in detail.

For example, I looked at the approval certificate from USCIS for the regional center to make sure that what Sam was telling me was right—and he is legit.

I wholeheartedly recommend EB5AN and Anahita George as an EB-5 attorney.

Now Available: Sid’s Comprehensive EB-5 Due Diligence Webinar — Hear Sid Explain How to Analyze EB-5 Projects and Avoid Unnecessary Risk — Recommended for Investors without Real Estate Investment Experience

Full Interview with Siddharth
EB-5 Investor in the EB5AN Twin Lakes Rural EB-5 Project

Transcript of the Full Interview with Siddharth from India

Why Make An EB-5 Investment?

Finding an EB-5 Immigration Attorney and Filing Form I-526E

Selecting an EB-5 Project and Regional Center

I focused a lot of my attention on this for the reason that, not only is the EB-5 route important for me to make sure I remain legally employed in the U.S., but also because I’m not a rich billionaire Indian businessman who just has $800,000 to throw at any random project as long as I get a Green Card. So it was important for me to make sure that there was a good probability of preservation/return of capital invested.

Most of these projects don’t have financial returns in terms of an IRR over a 5- or 7-year period, but if I can maximize the probability of getting my entire invested capital returned, I think that’s a big win.

And with that goal in mind, I looked at a lot of EB-5 projects, primarily using Google for my research and then talking to a number of recent investors. Before I even started focusing on the regional center, my goal was to first look at what kind of projects were out there. My sense is that, broadly defined, there are three categories, and I will go through the pros and cons of each category and why I eventually zeroed in on this.

The first category I came across was hospitality-related projects. Hotels, resorts, and developments of that nature. I recognized that when looking at an EB-5 project, you have to find a project that aligns with macro trends in the area, whether geographical or related to the economy, and then look at the reputation of the developer or builder constructing the project.

When it comes to hospitality and food and beverage, like restaurants, the biggest thing is that the world is moving toward Airbnb. Everyone wants to take a holiday and book a nice Airbnb instead of staying in a hotel. Most hotels are now being used for business travel, and it’s uncertain how long that will last.

So, my first reaction was, okay, I do not want to be in a project where the return on capital is short. And when I say short, I mean in terms of cash flows; hotels in Las Vegas in a certain area might just see a lot of cash flow at certain times of the year when there are conventions going on. And at other times of the year, there are no customers at all. I wanted to avoid those projects.

The second category is infrastructure projects like charter schools and warehouses. The problem with charter schools is that the failure rate is 50%. This basic information is available on Wikipedia. The problem with warehouses is that it’s a binary outcome. If you’re lucky enough to build a warehouse that’s taken on lease by Amazon or Walmart, then you’re golden. You don’t have to worry about cash flows for several years. But if they don’t do that, then you’re in trouble.

Just around the time when I started looking at EB-5 projects, I read a headline that said Amazon is going to start rethinking its real estate strategy in terms of the warehouse space it has and start reducing its warehouse footprint. That made me ignore the warehouse project route completely because it’s very risky in my view.

The third category is real estate development for residential projects. There are two categories for that: first, rental properties where you build single-family homes or multi-family homes and just rent them out to people; second, properties, whether they are apartments, condos, or single-family homes, that you sell outright. In my view, both these categories have their pros and cons, and they have better cash flow prospects than the other two categories I highlighted earlier.

But then I found certain projects that were rental income-related and were based in areas where I knew the macro trends were not good. For example, I came across a project in Oakland. I live in San Francisco and know that Oakland is right next to San Francisco. I know the area where the project was built, and I figured that during COVID, San Francisco had a permanent 6% decline in population, and a lot of people are still leaving the Bay Area. Oakland has not been a good area in the past, with a high crime rate—not a great area overall.

They have a 30-story building with accommodation for students and working professionals in an environment where the macro trends are not in favor of a project like this, and the probability of getting my capital returned after the investment period has expired is probably not very high.

The second is, I also looked at properties for sale outright. I came across two or three different categories of these properties. First is low-income housing, second is housing for middle-income or high-net-worth individuals, and third is properties for senior citizens or active adults.

The problem with low-income housing is, in any market environment where interest rates are high, the first category of projects that will be adversely impacted is low-income housing. As you can see in the market right now, interest rates are rising, and the Fed is expected to keep raising interest rates maybe till the end of the year, maybe beyond that. Nobody knows. These projects are going to be impacted the most because of the high dependency that the customers of these projects have on mortgage rates.

That leaves me with projects for middle-income or high-net-worth individuals, and there were a few projects that seemed appealing. I also did some research into how real estate trends were playing out in various states across the U.S., because they are not the same. For example, in the Phoenix, Arizona area, there are a lot of homes, and home prices have declined by 20-40%; there’s a similar case in Austin.

However, there are other areas in the U.S., such as Atlanta and Miami, Florida, which have a very high prospect of long-term growth because a lot of people are moving into these cities or areas. The macro trends look good. Looking at the Twin Lakes project, I was also considering another project built by the same builder at the same time.

The first thing I looked at was, what is the reputation of the builder? It’s one thing to look at a presentation from the EB-5 agency that says, “This is a well-known developer and they have built projects worth $19 billion.”

But then the other thing you have to do is your own research. And the way you do that for a private company like Kolter—where you cannot read a 10-K or an 8-K to understand what the company is doing—is to look at news about the builder over the past several years. I came across a couple of news items that talked about how Kolter had returned capital from its investors who had invested in certain projects during the global financial crisis caused by what was going on in the real estate market in the U.S.

This gave me a degree of confidence that the builder was trustworthy. They are not only building a brand of reliability and trust, but they are also making sure that whoever works with them—whether it’s a customer or investor— feels satisfied with the outcome of the projects they are a part of. I went to Twin Lakes to visit the project and see what was going on for myself, and I confirmed that these guys were real.

I also looked at the subscription agreement. The one key thing I would advise all prospective investors to look at is, if you think a certain project is reliable, to make sure that your capital stays with that developer or builder for the entirety of the investment period. You want to avoid investing in a project that is about to be completed or will be completed in the next two or three years and then the money gets returned. Then, the EB-5 regional center would have to reinvest the funds in another project of a similar caliber. Nobody knows what the market is going to look like three years down the line. If it’s reliable, the EB-5 regional center will try to find the best possible projects for you, but nobody can guarantee anything.

And that brings me to the point of how to select the regional center to work with. Again, doing a lot of research on Google about the news related to regional centers is important because I came across regional centers that had legal issues. There were regional centers in California that were reaching out to me, but a simple Google search revealed that they had legal issues with the government. There were projects that apparently had their approvals revoked, and that didn’t make me comfortable with the folks I would be investing with.

A few things stood out for me when I discovered EB5AN, including the pedigree of the founders. Coming from a business school and investment banking background, it gave me comfort to see that the folks I was corresponding with were highly qualified, intelligent individuals who have worked for global organizations. It gave me the comfort that they are trying to run a clean shop and do things in a transparent manner as much possible. And in my interactions with Sam and other members of the EB5AN team, I could see that these folks were highly responsive. All the questions I asked were responded to, including the questions they could not answer because they simply didn’t have the information available.

They were very upfront about it and said, “Unfortunately, we don’t have this information and we won’t be able to source it for you.” This gave me a level of comfort that, at the end of the day, these guys are facilitators running an organization, trying to build it further, but it’s important to correspond with folks who are willing to admit that they don’t know beyond a certain point.

At the end of the day, your money has to be at risk. In many projects that are part of EB-5 schemes across the country, a lot of regional centers will promise you returns of capital, and they will tell you that your money will definitely come back after five years, even if you are investing in a restaurant.

People who have spent time in the U.S., especially in big cities like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco, know that the restaurant business is one of the most competitive and unprofitable businesses. Most restaurants just get by. Keeping these things in mind, I felt comfortable working with Sam and the other members of the team and looking at the level of professionalism demonstrated. I felt comfortable going with EB5AN.

Why Invest in EB5AN’s Twin Lakes Georgia Project?

Concluding Advice for EB-5 Investors