Focus Feature: George Jalil, Vice President Investments + Acquisitions

01 February 2023

Focus is expanding its presence nationally, bringing our unique approach to development and construction to new markets. To gain a better understanding of that effort, we sat down with a team member who is at the forefront, Vice President of Investment + Acquisitions, George Jalil. In this Focus Feature we discuss the expansion, his role in it, and the unique experience he adds to our team.

As the Vice President, Investments and Acquisitions, you are primarily responsible for sourcing and evaluating potential Focus projects. How do you approach that process?

Deal pipeline management is critical. In today’s environment, there are far too many opportunities to monitor everything. We approach this problem in two ways. First, we target specific markets that meet a set of key criteria; these parameters include economic indicators like affordability, job growth, retail strength, and population growth. Then, we leverage our local owner and broker relationships to create the strongest potential development opportunities within our target markets.

It is truly a collaborative effort amongst the team, and we take a systematic approach with each opportunity. This affords a diverse set of analysis, helps solve tough problems, which enables our team to establish ourselves in markets with high barriers of entry.

Your work is focused on several new markets for Focus, primarily in the Southeast. What do you think is most important when entering a new market?

As you can imagine, every US market is unique, and each requires careful consideration. A primary economic driver in one market may be completely different in another. The most important aspect within our control is buying right. It certainly sounds easier said than done, however, Focus is differentiated by its careful research of these markets prior to investing. We perform multiple city tours, speak with third party consultants, and perform proprietary in-depth analysis on economic, demographic, and environmental data trends. While other firms might consider doing this during the typical due diligence period, we do this prior to any offer being presented. That builds confidence with sellers in our ability to close, which is critical in today’s hypercompetitive environment.

We are currently ‘focused’ on our regional expansion in the Southeast US, with more exciting news on that to come soon...

Before coming to Focus, you worked in capital markets, also sourcing real estate investments. How has the experience shaped your approach at Focus? How is it different?

In several ways my systematic approach was similar in my previous role. My responsibilities included sourcing deals but extended to all classes of real estate beyond new development including core, value-add, and opportunistic real estate. This afforded me exposure to various asset classes and taught me to understand the lifecycle of commercial real estate and the nuances between asset types.

The aspect of the real estate lifecycle that attracts me the most is new development. From my perspective, development is the most challenging and therefore most rewarding. When acquiring an existing asset, we are bound (more or less) by the parameters of the structure in place and what we can renovate like unit interiors, common areas, and facade. But when developing something from the ground up, we have control to maximize value from day one through careful analysis, innovation, and creativity. That could mean a more efficient building layout to reduce costs, or a full-floor penthouse plan that includes a regulation size, NBA basketball court which doubles as a 400-person town hall as a defining amenity (see 167 Green).

Outside of work, you are an active volunteer with the March of Dimes – can you talk about why that work is important to you?

My association with the March of Dimes is a deeply personal one. My wife’s obstetrician tells this story about how the first book given to obstetrics students has 30 chapters, 29 of which cover what can go wrong during and after pregnancy. My wife and I have three children; Georgie, our first born who is 5 years old, Lucy, our youngest who is 1 year old and Tommy, our middle child who was full term stillborn. Tommy’s stillbirth was unexplained, and my wife’s pregnancy had progressed normally until his fateful birthday.

The irony of obstetrics is that childbirth is something every single person experiences directly and indirectly, however it is a process we still know so little about. Our hope is to understand one day what could have caused the loss of our beautiful boy, Tommy. My family regularly contributes to the March of Dimes to grow our collective understanding of pregnancy and childbirth while advocating for visibility and public dialogue around miscarriage, stillbirth and child loss.

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