Personal StoryDec 12, 2022

Why I Started the NRI Brand: How It All Began

If you found the NRI brand website, you’re probably interested in investing in US Real Estate

But if you’re anything like I was before I bought my first property, you probably don’t know much about the trade or where to start.

It’s frightening — I know. Trying to find your way in an unknown market and taking the risk of making your first purchase. 

I’ve been there myself. 

And I admit — It was one of my life’s most challenging business ventures.

But it paid off. And it also proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

In fact, it motivated me to build the NRI brand (Nonresident Investor) to help aspiring investors like you learn the ropes of the trade.

I’ve gone through thick and thin and spent hundreds of hours researching US Real Estate laws, finances, and procedures, so you don’t have to.

I also learned many valuable lessons throughout my investment journey. And I’m going to share all of them (for free).

This post will be the first of many where I will share my journey as a nonresident investor — from buying my first property to building the NRI brand.

But first, let me introduce myself.

Who Am I?

My name is Luka Malkovich. 

My name is Luka Maljkovic. I am a nonresident investor, just like you.

I am a nonresident investor, just like you.

I was born and raised in Montenegro and have a background in digital entrepreneurship. In fact, I’ve been a digital entrepreneur my entire career. 

If there’s one thing I learned along the way, it’s that being your own boss has its ups and downs. On the one hand, it’s incredibly dynamic and exciting. On the other hand, it is quite stressful. Still, I found the lifestyle a great fit for me and wouldn’t change it for the world.

The first successful business I built was when I was just 15. It began as a local gaming community in Montenegro that I started as a passion project. However, it wasn’t long before the server grew into one of the largest gaming communities in the country. That small but invaluable business success was when I first discovered the wonders of entrepreneurship.

With the experience I gathered throughout my first venture, I moved on and built a marketing agency that is still going strong to this day.

But one of my biggest (and most successful) projects was Addria — an IT software development company. I’ve been building that brand for over eight years now. During that time, I led different IT teams and completed over a hundred online projects across Europe and America. 

Suffice it to say NRI wasn’t my first rodeo. However, it was the first of its kind.

What Made Me Get Into US Real Estate as a Foreigner and Start the NRI Brand?

The ten years I’ve spent building a digital entrepreneurship career were some of my life’s best. However, the monotony of the everyday hustle was starting to get to me. I found myself yearning for a change.

Considering that Addria was becoming more profitable by the year, I had enough capital to invest (and experiment) in another industry. However, deciding what to invest in was the tough part.

The obvious choices would be stocks or crypto. However, I never liked the dynamics of those markets. They felt too much like gambling to me, so I figured they wouldn’t be a good fit. 

I was stuck. Until my good American friend, Mark, helped me decide.

It was late 2017, and I was starting work on one of Addria’s new outsourcing projects with Mark, so we organized a few strategy meetings.

Since we go a long way back, we wanted to take the opportunity to catch up and share interesting stories before moving on to business. As it turned out, Mark’s latest story was about how he bought two houses in the States. He planned to rent them for some passive income.

And that’s when it came to me — real estate investment. 

Since my dad used to invest in real estate when I was little, I knew it had much earning potential in the long run. I even actively helped him find tenants, so I was familiar with the process. The industry is also different enough, so I was positive I’d enjoy the challenge.

The choice was perfect.

American House with a Flag

How I Started Learning About Investing in US Real Estate

After setting my sights on my new goal, I immediately rolled up my sleeves and began researching.

The first thing I looked for was – can a foreigner buy a property in the States.

To be frank, nothing could have prepared me for what would come.

As soon as I typed in my first Google search and clicked on one of the results, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available. 

But being as motivated as I was, I refused to give up without trying.

After that, I spent several long months exploring every corner of the internet to learn how to start as a nonresident investor in the US and what mistakes to avoid

Throughout my research, I’ve read dozens of books on real estate investment, talked to more than 20 professional consultants, and spent over 100 hours browsing through Google, watching YouTube, and listening to various podcasts.

Here are some of the most valuable resources I came across:

The whole journey was exhausting, stressful, and incredibly expensive.

But was it worth it in the end?

Yes. Every second of it.

How I Bought Two Duplexes in the US Online (By Myself)

I first started scouting properties for my first purchase in early 2018.

However, the first real estate I bought was in May 2018.

Yes… It took me over five months to finish my first deal.

I began my search by consulting with an American acquaintance of mine. 

The first thing he advised me was to look for an off-market deal. He even offered to introduce me to a broker who’d fill me in on any good opportunities as soon as they popped up.

Of course, I accepted the offer and eagerly waited for the broker to call me for the first few weeks. However, as the weeks turned into months, I became impatient, so I took the matter into my own hands.

I spent months tirelessly browsing websites like Zillow, forums like Reddit, and real estate Facebook groups in search of opportunities. Regardless of how busy or tired I was, I’d always find the time for my daily dose of research. But I had no luck for nearly six months…

Just as I was starting to lose hope, I finally stumbled upon an opportunity in a Facebook group called “Milwaukee Off-Market Deals.

The deal in question was for two duplexes in one of Milwaukee’s suburbs. And a really affordable one.

Relying on everything I’ve learned, I spent the following few weeks negotiating with the owner, hiring a lawyer, finding an accountant to handle my taxes, filing all the paperwork, and sending the money. 

Once the deal was finally closed, I felt liberated.

I finally became a nonresident investor.

the NRI brand homepage logo dark

What Were the Key Things I Learned?

Saying I’ve learned a lot throughout my journey would be an understatement. But if I had to pick my most valuable lessons as a foreign investor, I’d have to single out the following:

1. Investing in US Real Estate as a Foreigner Is Possible

At first, I was afraid of being unable to invest in US Real Estate without citizenship. Luckily, that was not the case. Nothing prevents you from buying property in the states, regardless of where you’re from.

Getting into real estate investing is expensive — that’s true. You’ll need to pay dozens of legal fees, hire an accountant, or perhaps even visit a consultant.

And I’ll be honest here — if you don’t know what you’re doing (like I didn’t), you’ll get overcharged A LOT. But if you know the ropes of the industry, you won’t have to worry about that.

On my blog, you’ll find plenty of tips that will help you save money when buying property abroad. You can even book a consultation session with me, and I can help you through the entire process at an affordable price.

2. You Can Do Everything Online

Yes — you heard that right. You CAN do everything online.

That includes renovation.

Yes, I did that. I renovated both of my duplexes from another continent.

It was challenging (and quite stressful) but not impossible. All it takes is the right team, and you can handle all the necessary labor and paperwork from a completely different part of the world.

Anyone can do it. There are many ways to secure funding for your first investment, even if you lack investment capital. So all you need is dedication.

3. Investing as an American Resident and Nonresident Are Two Entirely Different Stories

It didn’t take me long to realize that investing in US Real Estate as a nonresident and an American citizen is completely different.

The tax laws are different; the procedures are different; the paperwork is different… 

That makes the entire process all the more physically and emotionally draining, especially since nonresidents have little to no knowledge of American laws and regulations. That is unless you have the right partners to guide you through your first purchase.

Here’s the thing — buying the house is the easy part. The bigger challenge is forming and organizing a team of people to manage your real estate business (e.g., accountants, real estate agents/brokers, lawyers). It took me months to get everything sorted, and it will probably take you too if you go into it alone.

a nonresident investor buying us real estate from the comfort of his own home with our assistance

But just because I had to do it the hard way doesn’t mean you must too. You can save time, money, and nerves by hiring someone like the NRI brand’s team to handle the brunt of the work for you.

If I had someone to help me with my first purchase, I would have saved over a hundred hours spent on research and stressful anticipation. Trust me — you don’t want to go through that.

But the most important and challenging lesson was the following…

4. Very Few People Specialize in Real Estate Investments for Nonresidents (And Not Just in America)

Finding someone to help me with everything I needed to finalize my first purchase was next to impossible. And not just in America…

I searched nearly the entire Balkan region for someone familiar with American real estate law on nonresident investors.

Although there were some highly skilled people and agencies, nobody I came across specialized in American real estate investing. So I was back to square one. 

The next place I looked was in the States, of course.

There, I found barely a dozen companies and individuals specializing in real estate investing for nonresidents.

And even then, I had to consult and hire multiple people or companies to cover everything.

That meant I spent more time and money than I objectively should have. And that got me pretty annoyed.

But in that annoyance, a thought came to me: “What if there was someplace (or someone) nonresident investors could turn to and find all the information they needed to succeed?”

And that’s when I first thought about building the NRI brand.

How I Decided to Start the NRI Brand

At first, the idea of building a brand to help nonresident investors make their first purchase was just a passing one.

But life works in mysterious ways…

I got my first push to turn my investment hobby into a business when I told some of my colleagues what I had achieved. In fact, they were so intrigued by my success that many decided to invest in US Real Estate themselves.

In their efforts to enter the market, they turned to me for guidance. Of course, I didn’t refuse. 

By then, I had nearly forgotten how little I knew when I had just started investing in real estate. But working with so many fresh investors showed me how valuable my experience was. 

In fact, I saved several months of my colleagues’ time by advising them and helping them with the necessary preparations and paperwork. At one point, I even asked myself: “What if I got paid for doing this?”

Still, that wasn’t enough to tip the scales and make me launch the NRI brand. That achievement goes to my good friend, Goran. 

Being one of the best back-end programmers in the region, Goran and I worked together on many IT projects. We were also both huge business nerds. And since we haven’t seen each other in months due to the pandemic, it was high time we caught up.

We went out for a coffee and had a great chat about friends, family, sports, and eventually got to the topic of business. 

And that is where Goran read me like a book; he knew me too well.

“It’s been so long since you’ve last built a brand,” he said. “Don’t you think it’s high time you started another one?”

He hit the nail on the head with his question. I’ve indeed been thinking about starting a new business. I didn’t know which one.

When I asked him for ideas, he responded with another perfect question: “What are the things you’re good at?”

And then all the pieces fell into place…

Real estate consulting.

Luka Malkovich, a founder of NRI brand, looking at his planner and sheet to organize his meetings

How I Came Up With the NRI Brand Name

The morning after, I got up, finished my breakfast, sat in front of my computer, and opened GoDaddy.

I stared into the search bar for at least a dozen minutes, trying to come up with a name for the brand.

If my previous experience taught me anything, it was the importance of a strong brand.

After all — all of my successful businesses live and die by their branding.

That’s why I wanted this brand to resonate. It wasn’t something I was willing to skimp out on.

But then I thought to myself — I’m also a fan of simplicity. In fact, most of my brands had incredibly simple (or witty) names.

So after some thought, I asked myself the simplest question: “Who am I?”

I’m a nonresident investor.

I typed that into the search bar. The domain was available. I bought it.

And the rest is history.

My Vision for NRI Brand

The NRI brand is much more than just a brand to me.

In fact, I believe that starting it was one of the best decisions I made.

You see, despite all the challenges I faced on my journey to becoming a nonresident investor, I loved every second of it.

There is no better feeling for me than taking the first step toward building something new outside the borders of your country. And that’s how I felt when I made my first purchase.

That’s why I made my brand’s mission to help aspiring, nonresident investors like you navigate the Wild West, which is the American real estate market, and make their first purchase.

So let me introduce myself again.

I am Luka Maljkovic.

I am a nonresident investor, just like you.

And I want to help you achieve your real estate investing goals through the NRI brand.

Book a free discovery call with me and find out how much time and money my team can save you on your first real estate purchase.


Founder & CEO
Luka Malkovich is a serial entrepreneur with years of experience in international real estate investing. As the CEO of Nonresident Investor, Luka’s mission is to educate foreign nationals about the US real estate market and help them secure funding and buy property in America. That’s why he’s using his expertise to turn the NRI blog into a knowledge hub for anyone interested in learning about US real estate. This article was written by a professional content writer in conjunction with Luka Malkovich. Luka has thoroughly reviewed this article and has given his final approval before publishing.

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