September 20, 2018

The Young Real Estate Mogul

Matan Pertman

Most Israelis spend their post-military stint backpacking, partying, traveling, meeting new people and basically living life with hedonistic abandon.

Not Matan Pertman. While vacationing in South America, Pertman met his future wife, his future business partner and invested serious thought into how he wanted his life to look.

“I was split between what people expected me to do and what I wanted to be,” Pertman said. The expectations, mostly from his mother, were that he would get himself a useful degree, so he studied electrical engineering at Tel Aviv University. But two years later, he quit his studies to enter the business world full time. 

Pertman bought his first apartment when he was 22, which, by Israeli standards, means he was practically still in diapers. He scraped together his savings from serving as a career soldier in the elite Shayetet navy commando unit, took out a hefty loan and bought in a city he could afford: Beersheba. Within a matter of months, he had renovated the apartment, rented it out and sold it to an investor. 

He asked himself where he saw himself in five years’ time, and jotted down his aspirations on an A4 sheet of paper. He wrote down a goal of five real estate deals in as many years.

Today, seven years later, the company he owns with Ran Harel, R&M Investments, manages more than $140 million worth of assets on behalf of its client investors. Beersheba became a boon for the two, and they now handle more than 200 apartments in the city. One of the things that makes their company stand out is their commitment to fair rent, not just in the asking price but also in the way their renters are treated. 

 “The gap between investing and gambling is knowledge.” — Matan Perlman

“These are our peers,” Pertman, 29, said. “We know what it’s like to have landlords who treat you unfairly or who put up the rent every year.” 

Treating renters with respect, he said, is a much more solid investment than an extra 100 shekels a month in rent because renters are far more inclined to take good care of the apartment for the owner. 

Pertman and Harel applied their Beersheba model to other places in the world. Today, they own property in Chicago, Cleveland and Houston, and are poised to begin work on a residential project in Brooklyn . They also purchased a plot of land by the coast in Zanzibar, and are building a 50-room boutique hotel there. 

Pertman attributes his success to having to take responsibility for the family at a young age after his father died from cancer. “At 14, I became the man of the house,” said Pertman, who has one sister. 

He added that his experiences as a triathlete also played a role. Even today, Pertman takes part in Ironman and Ultraman contests. “It’s about setting a goal and sticking to it and paying attention to the details,” he said. “It’s the same in business.”

Before he makes a purchase, he scouts out the land, literally, by taking to the streets and asking the locals what they like about their neighborhood. In addition, he combs through online forums and seeks advice from a host of experts that includes urban planners, lawyers and surveyors.

“The gap between investing and gambling is knowledge,” he said. 

And those five-year goals? “Turns out I didn’t think big enough,” he said, laughing. But he still has that A4 sheet of paper folded up in his wallet.