NEW YORK – Looking to invest in New York real estate? Your answer should be “yes,” and specifically you should be looking at west and central Harlem, according to Shimon Shkury, the real-estate broker who has become the go-to man for many Israelis looking to get their own little piece of New York.

Shkury and his firm, Ariel Property Advisors, have been in business since 2011. The firm, which started with 10 employees, now has 40 to 50 people working in its midtown Manhattan office. Since Shkury is Israeli, that tends to attract investors from here, he said.

But not everyone at the firm is Israeli, and Shkury believes having local, native New Yorkers gives the firm an edge.

“Israelis, like any other person, like to have someone they can trust,” he said.

“They like familiarity. We [the firm] are a hub of information, and when investors see how entrepreneurial we are, they learn quickly.”

Ariel focuses on commercial and multifamily rental buildings in upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, especially in the most of the up-and-coming areas of New York. In 2012, Ariel brokered $250 million in deals, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Last October, the firm took in $648m.

for multifamily buildings across all four boroughs (it does not operate on Staten Island), its high mark on both a month-to- month and yearly basis. In December, Ariel closed a $15m. deal on two buildings on West 126th Street, one of the areas Shkury touts as the up-and-coming Manhattan.

Between 2002 and 2010 or so, New York gained 170,000 new residents, and between 2010 and 2012, it gained 140,000 new residents, Shkury said.

“Today, residential demand is huge,” he said. “It’s secure from a personal security level. [Former mayor Michael] Bloomberg balanced the budget, so we’re in great shape, and I don’t think [Mayor Bill] De Blasio will do anything to change that. Overall, New York is a very optimistic place.”

With Columbia University’s planned 17-acre campus, stretching primarily from 129th Street to 133rd Street, Shkury predicts west, central and south Harlem are all areas to watch in terms of appreciated value. Further south, it’s Hudson Yards in the west 40s, he said.

Outside of Manhattan, “Bushwick is the new Williamsburg,” Shkury said, meaning investors will soon start looking east of the hip, too-well-known neighborhood to the next fixer-upper.

In Queens, look to Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst or Jackson Heights; in the Bronx, east Fordham is the neighborhood to watch, he said.

“New York was always a great place for business,” Shkury said. “But back in the day, where were people living? In the suburbs.”

When people started getting tired of having to take a train into the city for an hour, that’s when the city got interesting, in terms of real estate, he said.

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