Real Estate

Interview with Architect David Duek, Director of Dwell Real Estate Services and Architecture Ltd.

David Duek

The Fusion – Real Estate & Architecture

Architect David Duek, Director of Dwell Real Estate Services and Architecture Ltd.

David Duek is the founder and director of Dwell Group, a state of-the art firm that offers a wide spectrum of real estate and architectural services. Specializing in high-end properties in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas, his team offers a unique and unmatched range of skills, experience, and expertise, giving clients easy and convenient access to the best investment opportunities on the real estate market.

In this interview, David S. Duek shares about his complex background, his business, and his unique insight into architecture and real estate.

Tell us a little about your background.

I was born in Argentina. When I was a child, my family was forced to flee to the USA due to the threats from the military government in my home country, and I became fluent in English there. My family later moved to Mexico City, from where I finally made Aliyah in 1995. After being in Kibbutz Yotvata, I settled in Jerusalem, where I have lived ever since. I am an architect by trade, a graduate of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. I served as the sole independent exterior advisor for the Building Permission Department in the Jerusalem Municipality, revising all the new Building Permission Plans from an aesthetic architectural perspective. I have served as public architect and planner for three of the community councils during a period of massive change in various layers of urban planning in Jerusalem: Lev Ha-Ir (Jerusalem’s city center and surrounding neighborhoods), the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and Morasha (Musrara), a beautiful old neighborhood bordering the Old City and Geula. I have also been active in the private sector, doing boutique architectural renovations in Jerusalem’s inner-city neighborhoods.

How did you get involved in real estate?

Real estate and architecture have been an esteemed trade and tradition in my family for more than 55 years; my father was an important architect in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I was influenced by him. As I worked on the aforementioned architectural projects, I realized that there is a lot to be done in real estate, so I began dabbling in that in addition to my work as an architect. I started out at Century 21, where I learned the ropes of the trade, and after 3.5 years I decided to start a firm that would integrate both architecture and real estate services. That’s how Dwell crystallized.

So throughout the 10 years that we’ve existed, we have been providing architectural services, including project management ,renovation, licensing permits, consulting, planning, extensions, and design, and now we are going into the TAMA 38 field—that is, structural strengthening for buildings that don’t meet earthquake or security regulations—a unique opportunity to revitalize and update the city’s worn out old buildings as well as correct architectural failures of the past. The firm itself was established as a “one-stop shop” for any client’s real estate needs.

What is your vision as a company?

Our vision is to become a pivotal hub in the Israeli real estate sector for local and foreign investors by taking full advantage of our track record and potential in the fields of architecture, real estate, development and real estate technology.

What are the areas and properties you specialize in?

We mostly work with high end properties in the Jerusalem and the Gush Dan areas, but we’ve also completed transactions in various cities throughout Israel and abroad. Our properties range from 1 – 10 million dollars. Normally, our exclusive listings include 50-60 million dollars in properties. In Jerusalem, we specialize in the inner neighborhoods, from Baka to the city center: Talbiyeh, old Katamon and Rechavia; but we also work in areas of Metropolitan Tel Aviv and Hertzliya.

What do you find the most satisfying about your job, and what do you find most challenging?

Of course, closing the perfect deal is a wonderful feeling, but I also get a great deal of satisfaction when clients take my advice and succeed because of it. The most challenging thing for me is when I try to help a client understand that they have a unique opportunity, and they just don’t see it. We know the market, we know what is available and how often things come up, and our ultimate goal is to help our clients, so it’s very frustrating for me when they are not willing to accept our help.

What services and benefits do your clients enjoy?

Since we also provide the architectural range of real estate services, we’ve taken on projects from beginning to end, even if they needed new zoning or building permits. We help clients by providing trustworthy and reputable legal, financial, engineering, and mortgage advice to whoever wants or needs it. We expose our clients to hand-selected, exclusive, solid, and attractive investments in the real estate market both in Israel and abroad. Our clients can participate in investment portfolio exhibitions and receive notifications tailored to their preferences. Every deal comes with a free advisor packet. Our raison d’être is to provide our clients with the most promising opportunities and benefit them in any way we can.

What distinguishes Dwell Group from other companies?

Our trademark throughout our decade of activity has been a boutique approach to our clients and investors, providing them with a uniquely broad spectrum of services mentioned above, exposing our clients to exclusive and pre-market alternatives, and giving them the personal attention they deserve. A good example of this occurred naturally when several clients who don’t live permanently in Israel but had recently purchased properties through us, asked if we could manage their properties for them. That’s how we started that service, which also came to include short term vacation rentals—an addition that has made their investments even better.

Why do you think it is valuable to provide a single address for all these services?

Because it is really the same clientele that needs all these different services at some point. Instead of dealing with a few different companies, they can come to Dwell, and everything is in house. That makes it so much easier for clients to manage lengthy and complex projects. They don’t have to invest the energy and take the risk of building relationships with multiple companies: they have one company they know they can trust. We always have the customer’s best interest in mind.

What are some exciting projects you’ve been involved in?

We have managed to organize and complete two different group purchases, one in the Old Katamon area and one in Givat Hamatos, both in Jerusalem. The planning and project managing of a 400sqm private home’s full renovation in Old Katamon Jerusalem from A to Z, within only six months. We stuck strictly to the proposed schedule, including furniture design and an extension to the existing building. We have also been involved with investments outside of Israel: we are associated with Blue Rock Group, with which we sold a 23 million Euro commercial building to our clients, and have been involved in significant commercial building transactions with existing clients of ours thanks to maintaining excellent lasting relationships. We have very attractive and solid real estate investments in Israel as well in Europe and USA.

What is unique about your staff?

Most of them are olim or children of olim from all over the world, and that already equips them with courage in their genes or deeds (essential in the business). Moreover, it gives us a close relationship with the communities that we left. We have people from Brazil, USA, England, Israel, Belgium and Argentina, all with outstanding academic education. I personally speak fluent English, Hebrew, Spanish and French. We have a high-quality, small “commando” team that we want to expand. At the moment, we are looking for highly motivated, skilled, hard-working people that want to make a long-term career in real estate. We train people in our own system, based entirely on our own experience.

What is your firm’s approach to architecture?

At Dwell, we relate to architecture not only as an art, but as an art at the service of man—the most functional of arts. Our work focuses on the needs of the city dweller, or, to be more precise, the residents of the inner cities, wherever they may be, and traditional neighborhoods that would like a new twist. We base our design on functional criteria, blending harmony, aesthetics, comfort, and warmth, but we tap on the uniqueness of every project for originality and vitality. Our inclination and tendency is to work with high-quality, natural building materials whenever possible, and we specialize in making the most of every square meter available without compromising a feeling of spaciousness and comfort. Thanks to our broad understanding of the urban space, we can offer our clients a comprehensive vision, down to the smallest details of interior decoration.

Is now a good time to invest in Israeli real estate?

It’s definitely a great time to invest in Israeli real estate. Israel is in the midst of a building boom due to multiple factors: the tremendous housing demand due to high birth rates and immigration, Israel’s reputation as the second most important innovation hotspot in the world after Silicon Valley, government concerns about earthquake regulations and low interest rates. Most importantly, Israel’s real estate market—and economy in general—has a reputation for remarkable stability. The effects of the 2008 financial crisis were hardly felt in Israel; demand for real estate decreased only for short periods of time and prices did not decline even in one city. The world’s leading investment banks, pension funds, insurance companies, and major tech companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Intel have all invested in Israel.

What new developments are you planning for your firm in the near future?

I’m glad you asked! We are currently in the process of building a state-of-the-art, interactive website, dwell.co.il, that should be up and running in 2.5 months. In the long term, we are envisioning an intelligent transition into the technological sector, blending technology and real estate. It will be a smarter way to search for properties. We’re also preparing a platform to make our deal opportunities abroad accessible to young and smaller investors through crowdfunding. As mentioned, we’re involved in 2 TAMA-38-related projects. These projects offer significant fiscal incentives to potential investors/entrepreneurs—with some risk, but significantly less equity than in normal real estate developments. That’s an unprecedented investment opportunity, and we are helping our clients take advantage of it while it lasts.

In your opinion, what makes the difference between a good real estate agent and a great one?

First of all, a great agent is trustworthy, an outstanding negotiator, is 100% receptive of clients needs and most of all—works hard. He does everything he can for the client (beyond his task)—and when he has done everything, he tries to find out what more he can do. That’s what we try to do for our clients.

Where are you located and how can potential clients reach you?

Our offices are located at 18 Diskin Street in the heart of Rechavia, Jerusalem. Give us a call at 02-567-0607 or e-mail us: dwell@dwell.co.il

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