An Exclusive Interview With Barak Baum, Co-Founder at Ficus Investments
Barak Baum, Co-Founder of Ficus Investments, and his partners decided to look into the great potential of the Greek real estate market, focusing specifically on the tourism sector. Barak Baum and his old school friend Gal Itzhak Ninio founded in Athens in 2018 Ficus Investments and steadily nowadays own several properties mainly at the center of the town.
Their first property is now operating as the boutique hotel Nin&Bau, Sarri 2 at the center of Athens while at the same time are in the process of constructing several other hotels in the same region. The amount of the company’s investments in hotel projects in the center of Athens exceeds 20 million euros. The company is in constant search of investment opportunities
in the tourism sector with Greek island Paros, to be one of the next target areas for the construction of a new hotel. The business activity of the Israelis Barak Baum and Gal Itzhak Ninio in Greece is an example of the attractiveness of the Greek real estate market that fascinates many foreign investors in recent years, especially in the field of tourism.
Can you explain to us the objective of the Ficus Group? When was the company first operated? Which other companies are its members?
Barak Baum: Ficus Group was established in 2018. That same year, we bought our first property which is now operating as the boutique hotel, Nin&Bau, Sarri 2 in Athens. The objective of the company is to invest in the Greek Real Estate Market, focusing on the tourist market for its great potential. Greece is a country with much to offer its visitors and there is abundant opportunity for such development projects, from small boutique hotels to large 5-Star resorts. Ficus Investments Group encompasses the Real Estate Development company, a Hotel Management company, and a Project Management office.
How would you describe 2021 concerning the real estate market?
Barak Baum: Although Covid hit the market in 2020 and has persisted around us through 2021 & 2022, we see that the real estate market continues to rise. We’ve observed an increase of foreign investors that realize how much Greece has to offer and more and more tourists that come to explore the country each year.
Operations-wise, being a thin structure company with low leverage certainly helped us to pass difficult periods like this year. We are here for the long term and very optimistic for the future of the Greek RE Market.
How did you decide to expand your activities in the Greek real estate market?
Barak Baum: I have been living in Greece with my family since 2013, as I previously managed a company in the country called Euromat that operates in the Fuel & Fleet Management field. Having previous experience in real estate, I recognized that the Greek Real Estate market at that time was evaluated low, especially the popular tourist destinations that included Athens and Greece’s many islands.
I first conducted my own personal development project, along with a good friend of mine who is a local Greek, and then I acquired an appetite to build a company focused on that field. Around that time, an old school friend and developer in Israel, Gal Ninio, had also started exploring development opportunities in Greece. We had a cup of coffee in 2018 and, since then, we operate together as partners with the objective to do good business, grow and evolve with good people, help others explore Greece’s beauty, and enjoy ourselves every step of the way.
Which countries from your experience have the biggest potential in the real estate market?
Barak Baum: We are based in Greece, acting and operating here as a local entity and I’m personally settled here with my family. In order to do good business, we believe that we must stay focused here in the Greek market.
Buying and developing Real Estate correctly requires our 100% presence and locality. We don’t believe in doing business remotely. There is much work to do here and still much room to grow, and therefore we are not in a rush to expand to other countries just yet.
What are your future investment plans for 2022 either in Greece or abroad?
Barak Baum: We plan to continue growing and strengthening our presence in the Greek Market. We have many properties here under our umbrella which are currently in development, and we’re always eyeing more prospects. We’ve done a great deal of learning and we are actually already starting to explore other areas, like yielding properties (Super Markets, big retail shops), student housing, residential housing development and we remain open to exploring even more areas.
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