Real Estate News

(Credit: Pexels, Max Pixels)

Homeowners across the country have about $5.8 trillion in equity and–notwithstanding some hesitancy–there’s some surprising ways they plan on using it. Chief among them is to get a degree.

In a recent survey, one of the most common reasons to borrow against a home was to pay off student debt or other education-related costs, according to Bankrate.com as cited by CNBC. Nearly a third of homeowners who responded said they believed that loans to pay for education were a “good” use of their home equity.

About one in six homeowners reported that they felt borrowing against their home to pay bills was a “good” option.

The number of new home-equity lines of credits jumped in the first quarter of 2018–despite expectations that the new tax bill would deter borrowers, and cash-out refinancing is at its highest point in about a decade, as The Real Deal reported. [CNBC]–Erin Hudson

Daniel Joseph Touizer

A real estate development company got an $11 million loan to finish a self-storage construction project in Pembroke Park that prosecutors had seized this year in a federal fraud case.

A company called Value Store It Pembroke Park, managed by Todd A. Ruderman of Fort Lauderdale, paid $5.5 million for the unfinished self-storage facility at 2801 John P. Lyons Lane in Pembroke Park.

North Trust Co. loaned the new owner $11 million to finish construction of the 112,275-square-foot development.

Federal prosecutors seized the self-storage development in connection with the indictment of self-storage developer Daniel Joseph Touizer, founder and CEO of a Fort Lauderdale-based firm called Wheat Capital Management.

Prosecutors charged that Touizer and his co-defendants defrauded more than 150 investors of approximately $19 million.

Touizer pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. He was sentenced July 25 to a 68-month prison term.

In February, prosecutors filed liens to seize five South Florida properties following the indictment of Touizer.

The five properties included the unfinished self-storage development in Pembroke Park, two other self-storage development sites in Miami and Margate, and residences in Aventura and Boynton Beach. [South Florida Business Journal]Mike Seemuth

Glennn Straub (Source: Casino.org)

Wellington real estate investor and businessman Glenn Straub claims he has loaned $150,000 to finance the defense of indicted Palm Beach developer Robert V. Matthews. But the two later clashed in a “business dispute,” and now Straub is suing to get the money back.

Straub’s company Palm Beach Polo Inc. filed a complaint against Matthews’ law firm, Wiggin & Dana LP, in the U.S. District Court for Florida’s Southern District. The Connecticut-based law firm has an office in Palm Beach.

Palm Beach Polo alleged in the complaint that an unspecified “business dispute” with Matthews in early July led the company to demand the return of $150,000 it wired to the law firm on May 29.

Straub, who is not named as a plaintiff in the complaint, is president of Palm Beach Polo, according to state records. Larry A. Zink, the attorney who filed the complaint, referred questions from the Palm Beach Daily News to the Wellington office of Straub, who was unavailable for comment.

Robert V. Matthews

Matthews is awaiting trial at a federal court in Connecticut on 21 counts of defrauding investors, evading tax and laundering money. His indictment stems from his role as developer of a bankrupt project to renovate the Palm House hotel-condominium at 160 Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach.

Matthews has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment and to separate securities fraud charges in a civil suit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Straub is a former owner of the Palm House and holds a $27.5 million mortgage on the property through one of his companies. The unpaid $27.5 million loan led to a foreclosure suit. The loan is now the largest secured debt in Palm House’s Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy case.

Together with its complaint in federal court, Palm Beach Polo filed a loan agreement between Straub, as president of the company, and Matthews’ wife, Maria “Mia” Matthews.

The complaint alleged that, in early May, Mia Matthews asked about the possibility of borrowing money from Straub’s company to finance Robert Matthews’ defense.

The loan agreement between her and Straub’s company was dated May 28, one day before the company wired $150,000 to the Wiggin & Dana law firm. [Palm Beach Daily News] Mike Seemuth

Red tide left piles of dead mullet Sept. 6 at Manasota Key in Sarasota County. (Credit: Mike Lang | Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

A red tide algae bloom that is leaving piles of dead fish on Florida’s west coast may be leading tourists to visit the state’s east coast instead.

Hotels and tourist attractions on the east coast of Florida are benefiting from the misfortune of their west-coast counterparts, Glenn Jergensen, executive director of the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council, told the Sun-Sentinel.

Virginia Sheridan, a spokeswoman for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the bureau has been getting calls from tourists who want to know if red tide is afflicting the state’s east coast, too.

Sheridan told the Sun-Sentinel that the bureau is telling callers that red tide is “a west coast issue.”

Officials of Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency, were unavailable for comment.

The current red tide bloom is killing marine life along about 120 miles of the state’s west coast from Pinellas County to northern Collier County.

The organism that causes red tide, karenia brevis, grows naturally offshore. Scientific research is under way to determine how the organism interacts with phosphorous, nitrogen and other nutrients used in the production of fertilizer, and how they affect the intensity and duration of red tide blooms close to shore.

Bob Daniels, the vice mayor of Venice, has proposed a municipal ban on the use of fertilizer to combat recurring blooms of red tide algae on Florida’s west coast.

Daniels believes that fertilizer flushed into the sea serves as a nutrient for karenia brevis. [Sun-Sentinel]Mike Seemuth

Esperanté Corporate Center

The owner of Esperanté Corporate Center in downtown West Palm Beach took legal action against the city for allowing construction of another office building that would block Esperanté  tenants’ view of the city’s waterfront.

City commissioners last month up-zoned a downtown corridor along Okeechobee Boulevard by designating it as the Okeechobee Business District.

The up-zoning action has allowed New York-based Related Companies to construct One Flagler, a 25-story office building on Lakeview Drive at a site near the city’s waterfront, where the old limit on building height was five stories.

Esperanté  is located at 222 Lakeview Drive, about one block west of the One Flagler development site.

Esperanté ’s owner, 222 Lakeview LLC, sued West Palm Beach in circuit court, claiming that the city failed to follow its own rezoning rules and violated due process requirements, among other charges.

The company also asked for a circuit court review of the city’s establishment of the Okeechobee Business District, alleging the action is tantamount to spot zoning in favor of one property owner.

In addition, 222 Lakeview asked the State Department of Administrative Hearings to determine whether the city failed to follow its comprehensive land-use plan and procedures in establishing the Okeechobee Business District.

Nat Nason, an attorney for 222 Lakeview, told the Palm Beach Post that an appraisal confirms that construction of the 25-story One Flagler office building would depress rents at Esperanté  and the building’s value by blocking views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean.

City administrator Jeff Green told the Post that the city legally established the Okeechobee Business District. [Palm Beach Post]Mike Seemuth

6747 Northwest 63 Way in Parkland

Chicago Cubs star Anthony Rizzo sold his South Florida mansion. The first basemen sold his estate in Parkland for $2 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The 5,800-square-foot mansion has a movie theater, steam room, pool and a batting cage. Rizzo listed the home in the spring with an asking price of $2.199 million.

The mansion at 6747 Northwest 63rd Way was bought by the three-time All Star and World Series champion for $1.83 million in 2013, a few months after Rizzo signed a $41 million contract extension with the Cubs.

The home was advertised as the personal residence of “Baseball World Series Champion Anthony Rizzo,” according to Realtor.com. Joshua Jamal Smith and Illeana Smith bought the house.

Rizzo, who grew up in Parkland, renewed his bond with the community in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, his alma mater. The slugger left spring training this year to return to his hometown, and he spoke at a vigil for the slain students.

Rizzo hasn’t left South Florida entirely, however, as he bought a $4.5 million mansion in Fort Lauderdale in June, according to the Miami Herald.

Even though they’re in a hot pennant race, the Cubs have been active on the real estate market this summer. Outfielder Jason Heyward bought a 19th-floor condo in Chicago’s No. 9 Walton for $6.9 million, joining a number of other big-name locals in the new luxury high rise.

In June, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts sold his home in suburban Wilmette for $2.5 million to Loyola University men’s basketball coach Porter Moser. [Los Angeles Times]

San Marco Island (bottom left) and Biscayne Island (Credit: The Reznik Group)

Residents of two of the six artificial islands along the Venetian Causeway are circulating petition to allow Miami Beach to annex them.

The Miami-Dade County planning board and county commissioners would have to approve a proposed annexation of Biscayne and San Marco, the two westernmost islands along the Venetian Causeway between South Beach and downtown Miami.

The county code also would require residents of the two islands to vote on annexation into Miami Beach.

Diana Fontani, a resident of Biscayne Island, told the Miami Herald that 13 percent of the households of Biscayne and San Marco have signed a petition supporting annexation of the islands by Miami Beach.

Supporters would need signatures from 20 percent of the approximately 370 households on the two islands to file an annexation petition with Miami-Dade County.

One incentive is lower taxes. Home owners on Biscayne and San Marco pay higher property taxes to Miami than home owners on the other four artificial islands – Belle Isle, Di Lido, Rivo Alto and San Marino – pay to Miami Beach.

Other incentives include code enforcement. Biscayne Island resident Mario Reyes told the Miami Herald that that Miami’s city government has been unresponsive to complaints about blighted vacant lots on the island.

Families on Biscayne and San Marco islands also want access to after-school programs at a Miami Beach youth center for their children because similar programs in Miami are farther away.

The county planning board and Miami-Dade commissioners would have to approve a proposed annexation of Biscayne and San Marco, the two westernmost islands along the Venetian Causeway between South Beach and downtown Miami. The county code also would require residents of the two islands to vote on annexation. [Miami Herald]Mike Seemuth

Alexan-Tarpon River rendering (inset) and Trammell Crow’s Jim Berardinelli

The developer of an apartment building in downtown Fort Lauderdale sued to overturn city commissioners’ rejection of the development.

City commissioners voted 3-2 last month to deny site plan approval for Alexan-Tarpon River, a 21-story, 181-unit apartment building that would replace the three-story, 30-unit Edgewood condominium.

Trammel Crow Residential Co. is the developer, and Edgewood House Condominium Association is the plaintiff in three similar lawsuits filed this week in Broward circuit court.

Jim Berardinelli of Trammel Crow Residential had offered to reduce the scale of Alexan-Tarpon River to 14 stories and 120 units but subsequently withdrew the offer.

According to one of the lawsuits, the city’s rejection of Alexan-Tarpon River lacked a legal basis and “was purely the result of political pressure,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Mayor Dean Trantalis and commissioners Ben Sorenson and Steve Glassman voted to deny site-plan approval for Alexan-Tarpon River.

Trantalis, Sorenson and Glassman were elected in spring after campaigning against excessive real estate development.

City staff approved Alexan-Tarpon River in April, and city commissioners never identified the development rules that the 21-story project would violate, according to the lawsuits.

The proposed development site now occupied by the Edgewood condominium is on the south side of the New River just west of the U.S. 1 tunnel. [Sun-Sentinel] Mike Seemuth

Clockwise from top left: WeWork drops non-compete agreements for hundreds of employees after settlement with NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group’s $2B real estate fund will target opportunistic investments, Henri Bendel to close all of its stores after 123 years in business, and Around one in six Americans would borrow against their homes to pay bills.

Och-Ziff Capital Management Group’s $2B real estate fund will target opportunistic investments
Och-Ziff Capital Management Group hopes to raise a $2 billion private equity fund that would target real estate, according to Bloomberg. This will be billionaire Daniel Och’s fourth fund targeting opportunistic investments and his firm’s largest real estate-targeted investment vehicle yet. “In the foreseeable future, we think we’re extremely good in credit and in real estate,” CEO Robert Shafir told investors last month. “What you will see is extensions that are local adjacencies to those core businesses.” Och-Siff also aims to raise $150 million for an affordable-housing fund and $750 million for a real estate debt fund. [TRD]

WeWork drops non-compete agreements for hundreds of employees after settlement
Hundreds of WeWork employees across the country will no longer be subject to stringent non-compete agreements. Almost all of the coworking behemoth’s employees were required to sign agreements that kept them from taking jobs with competitors, but after a settlement stemming from an investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office, the company agreed to release 800 New York-based employees from their agreements and to make the new policy a nationwide one. As part of the new policy, an additional 600 employees across the country won’t be bound by non-compete agreements, and 1,800 employees will be subject to less restrictive agreements. The settlement was “a key step forward for WeWork’s thousands of employees in New York and across the country,” Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement. [TRD]

Henri Bendel to close all of its stores after 123 years in business
Luxury retailer Henri Bendel is closing all of its stores after 123 years in business, according to CNN. The retailer’s parent company L Brands made the decision to close the remaining 23 stores in an effort “to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential” — Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, to name a few — as Henri Bendel wasn’t doing well sales-wise. After L Brands bought Bendel in the 1980s, it expanded the store into 11 states. Bendel’s 86,000-square-foot flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, its Chicago and Miami-area stores and its outpost at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles will all be shuttering after the holidays, this coming January. [TRD]

Around 1 in 6 Americans say they would borrow against their homes to pay bills
Approximately one in six U.S. homeowners would take out a loan secured by their home in order to pay household bills, a new Bankrate.com report found. That’s around 24 million homeowners, according to the report, which found that people who earned less and were less educated were more likely to make that choice. A majority of homeowners who took part in the survey, however, said that home improvements or repairs were the best reason to borrow against their homes. The report also indicated that while some homeowners said they would borrow against their homes, not many are doing so. The survey result “speaks to how far some households are stretched on a monthly basis,” Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride said. [TRD]

MAJOR MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

Long-vacant Times Square theater getting $100M revamp
Stillman Development and South Korean financial firm Daishin Securities Co. plan to renovate the Times Square Theater on West 42nd Street, the Wall Street Journal reported. Stillman Development has a 73-year lease for the theater, and the company hopes to draw entertainment-centric retailers to the space. Colliers International’s Brad Mendelson, who is handling the lease, said that could include brands like Apple, Amazon and Coca-Cola. President Roy Stillman, meanwhile, said they’re aiming to “design a project that would be insulated from the risks of e-commerce.” [TRD]

Chicago mansion that hosted four Playboy shoots hits the market
Prospective homeowners searching for a new place in Chicago could land a mansion that’s hosted four Playboy photo spreads, Crain’s first reported. The owners of the 7,000-square-foot Gold Coast home put it on the market for $4.9 million. The mansion has a third-floor addition made of glass and a master bedroom with mirrors on the ceiling. Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty agent Duane Shumaker, who’s listing the house, described it as “sexy.” [TRD]

Luxury rental building on the Fort Lauderdale waterfront could fetch $160M
A new luxury development on the water in Fort Lauderdale could fetch anywhere from $160 million to $170 million, according to Cushman & Wakefield broker Robert Given. Broadstone Harbor Beach, which houses 394 luxury apartment units, is unique because it’s “very rare to have a rental building on the Intracoastal or the water in South Florida,” said Given, who is listing the property along with Cushman & Wakefield’s Zachary Sackley, Troy Ballard and Neal Victor. “Most are condo projects,” he added. The site was previously home to Ocean World marine park, and is near the Broward Convention Center. [TRD]

CEO of Atlanta-based real estate investment trust Cousins Properties stepping down
The CEO of Atlanta-based real estate investment trust Cousins Properties is stepping down, Bisnow reported. Larry Gellerstedt, who’s been CEO since 2009, will take on the role of executive chairman. Colin Connolly, the trust’s president, will become the new CEO next year. “Colin’s promotion is part of a deliberate and planned succession effort that will allow Cousins Properties to benefit from his ideas, energy and strategic leadership skills, while continuing its evolution into a larger, highly focused company,” Gellerstedt said in a statement provided to the outlet. [Bisnow]

More and more Denver residents are looking for homes in other cities
More and more people who live in the Denver metro area are looking to buy homes in other cities, the Denver Post reported. A Redfin study found that there were more people from Denver searching for homes in other cities than were people from other cities searching for homes in Denver, according to the outlet. Residents who live in Denver may be looking for more affordable properties, since the median home price in the city is currently $406,000, according to the outlet. Denver residents seemed most interested in moving to Seattle, according to the study. They were also interested in places like Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. [DP]

Brightline buys high-speed rail between LA and Las Vegas
Traveling between Los Angeles and Las Vegas will soon take half the time. Florida-based firm Brightline plans to buy a high-speed rail project called “XpressWest” that will get passengers from Southern California to Las Vegas in about 80 minutes — far less than the time it takes to drive between the two cities now. The firm plans to start construction in 2019 and to launch its service in 2022. “Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and to short to fly,” Wes Edens, the co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Brightline parent company Fortress Investment Group, said of the project. A round trip ticket on the rail line will cost around $89. [TRD]

Beyonce, Jay-Z, and their Bel Air Mansion in Los Angeles (Credit: Pinterest and Getty Images)

A growing number of super-wealthy people are ditching the all-cash home buy.

Rather than dipping into their equity, David Koch, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Daryl Katz, the billionaire owner of the Canadian hockey team Edmonton Oilers, each have bought homes in recent years with massive bank loans. The trend has been attributed to real estate prices rising parallel to record-low interest rates, according to the Wall Street Journal.

There are reportedly 233 outstanding housing loans across the country that are valued between $10 million and $20 million. And they are being issued at an increasing rate: 23 percent of these loans were issued last year, and 16 percent have been issued this year already.

Banks see this as a way for pleasing their clients, some who hold tens of millions of dollars.

“If you have a client who has $50 million with your bank, you would do everything you can to keep them from taking that money out,” Jon Maddux, chief executive of California-based lender FundLoans, told the outlet.

Last year, Beyoncé and Jay-Z turned to Goldman Sachs for a $52.8 million mortgage they used to pay for their $88 million Bel-Air mansion. According to the outlet, they are making payments of more than $200,000 a month.

Katz is making similar repayments for a $47.45 million, 30-year mortgage he took out from UBS Bank earlier this year, which is being used to pay off his $85 million compound in Malibu, California.

Despite the trend, there are still those who forgo financing. In April, David Koch and his wife reportedly paid $40 million in cash for Joseph Chetrit’s Upper East Side mansion on East 76th Street. [WSJ] —David Jeans 

143 Southwest Ninth Street in Miami with Santiago Vanegas

Habitat Group, which is developing the mixed-use complex Smart Brickell, just bought another development site in West Brickell where it plans to build a hotel and condo project, The Real Deal has learned.

The firm, led by president and CEO Santiago Vanegas, paid $14.5 million for an apartment building at 143 Southwest Ninth Street in Miami. Vanegas said plans are to replace the existing building with a 36-story development that will include 108 luxury condos, 60 hotel rooms and 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Construction would begin in two years.

Constantino Heredia, broker and owner of CE Realty, represented the seller in the off-market deal. Records show the seller is W.G.R. Investment Inc., led by Evelio Garcia. The entity paid $1.2 million for the property in 1997.

The sale price for the 30,000-square-foot development site translates to $483 per square foot. The property now houses a five-story, 39-unit apartment building from 1968, records show. It is zoned for commercial, hotel and multifamily development, which allows 24 stories by right and 48 stories with a bonus, Heredia said.

Vanegas said the total cost of the development will be $59.6 million with a $48.7 million sell-out of the condos. There will be a $26.4 million valuation of the hotel and $6.6 million for the commercial space, for a total sellout of $81.7 million, and expected profit of $22.1 million.

The site is about a block away from Habitat’s planned Smart Brickell development. Last year, the firm completed assembling land for the project, paying a combined $21.6 million for the 1.23-acre development site on Southwest Ninth Street, between Second and Third avenues. Vanegas said construction will begin next month.

Smart Brickell will be a mixed-use hotel and residential project with three towers — each with a 50-room hotel, two with 50 condos and one tower with 70 condos. The eighth floor will have an amenity deck with a pool to be shared by all three towers. The first, 50-unit condo tower is already sold out, Vanegas said.

Habitat is also planning to develop a hotel, called Millux, with 114 rooms in West Brickell, between Second and Third streets and 11th and 12th streets. Arquitectonica is designing the project, and construction is expected to begin within eight months, he said.

Other developers are also targeting West Brickell for redevelopment. Zom is building Maizon at Southwest Second Avenue and Southwest 12th Street. The 24-story mixed-use apartment project will have 262 apartments and nearly 15,300 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

Habitat is also midway through construction of East River Living, a 34-unit apartment building at Northwest First Street and Northwest Seventh Avenue in Little Havana. The building is expected to be completed at the end of 2019, Vanegas said.

Manorcare Health Services and Heartland of Tamarac and Welltower Inc.’s Thomas DeRosa

Health care real estate investment trust Welltower just sold two of its medical office buildings in Broward to Abraham Shaulson’s Millennium Management for $29.2 million.

In two separate deals, Welltower sold the Manorcare Health Services nursing care facility at 6931 West Sunrise Boulevard in Plantation for $14.2 million, and the Heartland of Tamarac nursing home at 5901 Northwest 79th Avenue for $15.4 million.

The sale of the 45,942-square-foot Manorcare facility breaks down to about $310 per square foot. It features 120 beds. The 75,552-square-foot Heartland of Tamarac facility sold for about $200 per square foot and features 151 beds. Both were built in the 1980’s.

Miami-based Millennium operates scores of nursing homes throughout the United States. In 2016, it paid $15 million for a psychiatric campus in Hialeah.

AW Property Co., which specializes in medical office properties, recently paid $11.5 million for a medical office building in Hollywood. In Aventura, Integra Investment designated an entire portion of its mixed-use development Aventura ParkSquare to health-oriented tenants at its office complex called ParkSquare Wellness. 

Monarc at Met with Greg West of Zom and CBRE’s Still Hunter

Zom is looking to sell a luxury apartment tower in downtown Miami that could fetch “well over $200 million,” according to CBRE listing broker Still Hunter.

The apartment developer completed Monarc at Met, a 462-unit, 32-story building at 201 Southeast Second Avenue, in November 2016. Zom purchased the air rights to develop the rental portion from MDM Development Group, the master developer of the Metropolitan Miami project. The apartment component sits above a Whole Foods Market and parking garage.

CBRE’s Hunter, Chris Smiles, Ryan Reid, Malcolm McComb, Colleen Pentland Lally and Alex Taousakis are the listing agents.

Zom’s building features 30,000 square feet of amenities, including a game room with billiards, an entertainment room with demonstration kitchen, a movie theater room, a 4,000-square-foot gym, a heated saltwater pool, landscaped sundeck, yoga lawn, meditation deck, fire pit lounge, multiple grilling areas, and an outdoor gaming lounge.

Units range from 670-square-foot studios, starting at $2,220, to 1,400-square-foot three-bedrooms, asking up to $4,870, according to the building’s website. Apartments feature Nest thermostats, balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. The building is 95 percent leased, according to a press release.

Overall, the Met Miami development also includes Met 1, a mixed-use condo tower; Met 2, the JW Marriott Marquis Miami, Hotel Beaux Arts Miami, Boulud Sud and Wells Fargo Financial Center.

A handful of new luxury apartment buildings have recently hit the market in South Florida, including Alliance Residential’s waterfront Broadstone Harbor Beach, which could sell for $160 million to $170 million based on comparable sales, according to broker Robert Given.

Coral Springs Commerce Center, Weston Business Plaza and Prologis Beacon Centre

Aldora Aluminum and Glass Products moves HQ to Coral Springs

Aldora Aluminum and Glass Products is moving its Miramar headquarters to a Coral Springs distribution center currently undergoing renovations.

Aldora is currently based at 11500 Miramar Parkway, but will relocate those operations by the summer of 2019, according to a press release.

Exeter Property Group is revamping the former 193,211-square-foot building at 4250 Coral Ridge Drive into a four-building, 567,846-square-foot distribution development called Coral Springs Commerce Center II.

It paid about $15 million for the property, formerly known as the Alliance Building, last year.

It sits within the Corporate Park of Coral Springs, which is home to more than 350 businesses occupying more than 4.1 million square feet of building space. The nearly one-square-mile business park fronts Sawgrass Expressway and includes commercial, office, warehouse and manufacturing space.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Richard Etner Jr., Chris Metzger, Christopher Thomson and Matthew G. McAllister represented Exeter Property Group. MJ Ridenour of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT represented Aldora.

Nikao re-signs at Weston Business Plaza

Nikao, also known as Contract Manufacturing Solutions, Inc., is staying in Weston.

The product designer and manufacturer just renewed its 17,419-square-foot lease Weston Business Plaza at 1800-1880 North Commerce Parkway.

The lease maintains the 66,819-square-foot industrial asset’s 100 percent occupancy status. Ben Eisenberg, Walter Byrd, Thomas Kresse, and Carlos Gaviria of Transwestern represented the tenant.

Elion Partners paid $9 million for an industrial complex in March. Elion’s Andrew Rohacik represented the firm in the transaction.

Prologis Beacon Centre Business Park secures 28,000 sf of leases

Prologis Beacon Centre Business Park, a 205-acre business park in Miami’s Airport/Doral submarket, just secured 27,775 square feet of leases through four separate transactions.

Of the four, two were new, including Pharma-Wholesale Corp.’s 3,600-square-foot lease at 1904 Northwest 84th Avenue and America-Loving Care Home Health’s 4,600-square-foot lease at 1900 Northwest 84th Avenue.

Church World Service, Inc. renewed its 8,015-square-foot lease at 1924 Northwest 84th Avenue. The company was represented by CBRE. Spring of Life Fellowship also renewed its lease at the park. The company is staying in its 11,561-square-foot space at 2029 Northwest 87th Avenue and was represented by Xcellence Realty.

State Street Realty’s George Pino and Brian Cabielles represented the landlord, Prologis.

Intec Maritime Offshore arm inks lease at Prologis I-595

The U.S. division of Intec Maritime Offshore just inked a 22,610-square-foot lease at Prologis I-595, a 150,452-square-foot industrial park in Davie.

The lease at 7060 West State Road 84 will mark the second location in the United States for the marine machinery installer, Ship or Land Operations Agency. Berger Commercial Realty/CORFAC International’s Keith Graves represented the landlord, Prologis.

Prologis I-595 consists of two buildings featuring 22-foot ceilings, dock and ramp loading, and access to I-595, I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike.

Renderings of proposed project

UPDATED Sept. 21, 5:26 p.m.: Lionheart Capital is looking to speed up development of a pair of commercial buildings in the Design District, according documents filed with the city of Miami.

Flagler Holding Group, a company managed by Lionheart founding partner Ricardo Dunin, is seeking approval of a development agreement that the developer will comply with the special area plan for the Design District. Lionheart previously obtained approval for the construction of the two three-story structures totaling 58,000 square feet at 4218 Northeast Second Avenue. Miami-Dade property records show Flagler paid $710,000 for the property in 2003.

The Miami City Commission is expected to vote on the development agreement Thursday during a planning and zoning hearing. Dunin and his attorney Neisen Kasdin did not respond to requests for comment. Flagler is also asking that the proposed site be removed from an existing development agreement with Miami Design District Associates, the entity created by Craig Robins’ Dacra to transform the neighborhood into a luxury retail and arts destination. 

Renderings of Lionheart’s proposed project show two buildings primarily made of floor-to-ceiling glass walls connected with a paseo that funnels pedestrians into an area lined with luxury retail stores and restaurants. The second and third floors would feature offices, according to documents Lionheart submitted to the city. It will also have 98 underground parking spaces. To make room for the project, Lionheart plans to demolish two commercial buildings on the .035-acre site.

The proposed project is located across the street from a mixed-use project Helm Equities  is developing at 4201 Northeast Second Avenue. Plans for the two-acre project include a 21c Museum Hotel with 135 rooms, a rooftop pool and art museum, as well as 70,000 square feet of retail, 85,000 square feet of office space, a sculpture garden and 300 parking spaces.

Lionheart also owns a 5,600-square-foot historic building on the corner of Northeast 43th Street and Second Avenue that is home to small local boutiques. The firm owns a large development site in Pompano Beach, and is completing construction of The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, a luxury condo development that’s facing lawsuits from five buyers over alleged construction delays.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated some of the details of the development agreement and plans.

Porsche Design Tower (Credit: Max Pixel)

Booz Allen Hamilton’s CFO just paid $6.8 million for a condo at the Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach.

Lloyd Howell and his wife Patricia bought the 4,154-square-foot unit 3303 at 18555 Collins Avenue for $1,636 per square foot. The Howells purchased the three-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom condo from the developer, 18555 Developers LLC, which is led by Dezer Development’s Gil Dezer.

Howell has been the CFO at the information management and consulting firm since 2016. Prior to that, Howell led the company’s civil and commercial business, according to the company’s website.

Howell joins many high-profile residents at the Porsche Design Tower. Previous condo buyers have included Carlos Peralta Quintero, chairman of Grupo IUSA; Igor Yakovlev, a Russian home appliance mogul; and Terry Taylor, one of America’s biggest car dealers.  The developer bragged in marketing materials that 22 billionaires purchased condos in the 132-unit building.

In August, Gil Dezer told The Real Deal that 118 of the building’s units have closed. The condo tower was completed in 2016 and is known for its “Dezervator” which allowed owners to park their vehicles right next to their residences in “sky garages.”

Federal officials are currently seeking to seize unit 2205 in the Porsche Design Tower. Prosecutors allege the condo was tied to a $1.2 billion money laundering scheme in which top Venezuelan officials siphoned money out of the state oil company, PDVSA, and into assets throughout the world, including South Florida real estate. Dezer, citing the Fair Housing Act and other laws, said he was required to sell to a buyer who can sign a contract and send a deposit.

Brian Tuttle and 8238 Lake Worth Road

FCI Residential, the development arm of sugarcane giant Florida Crystals, plans to buy a development site in Lake Worth for $16.6 million to build up to 362 apartments, The Real Deal has learned.

Developer Brian Tuttle said he plans to flip the 30-acre site on the southwest corner of Florida’s Turnpike and Lake Worth Road for more than double his $8 million contract price from last year.

The property at 8238 Lake Worth Road and 4444 Hooks Road was part of a 51-acre site assembled by the Florida Department of Transportation between 2007 and 2008.

In June 2017, Tuttle agreed to buy the 30 acres after FDOT’s plans to build a new interchange there fell through. He had the property rezoned to allow for eight units per acre as well as to allow for commercial use.

At least 19 percent of the apartments FCI builds will be designated workforce housing, Tuttle said. Plans include building a 300-student preschool and brining a high-end coffee shop, he said.

This isn’t the first time the developers have done deals together. FCI Residential is under contract to pay $15 million for land at Tuttle’s master-planned $650 million project under construction in Royal Palm Beach where it plans to build 325 apartments.

In July, FCI Residential paid $16.1 million for another development site in Miramar, with allowances to build 300 residential units, with no more than 120 units containing three or more bedrooms.

Rendering of Finvarb Group’s proposed hotel at 1685 Washington Avenue and Ronny Finvarb

Miami Beach developer Ronny Finvarb secured the final approval for a Thompson Hotels-branded hotel near the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Finvarb Group returned to the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board on Monday for a vote on the Symphony Park hotel at 1685 Washington Avenue. After delaying approval in June amid concerns over the size and style of the building and how it relates to the neighborhood, the board green-lit plans for the eight-story, 150-room building.

Finvarb said he plans to break ground in the second quarter of next year. His company paid $19.2 million for the site, which is home to a Citibank branch, about a year ago.

The new Thompson Hotel, a boutique luxury hotel brand with locations in Chicago, New York, Seattle, Nashville, Toronto and Mexico, will mark a return to Miami Beach for Thompson. The company previously had the Thompson Miami Beach hotel at 4041 Collins Avenue, which it sold to Hyatt for $229.4 million in 2016.

Finvarb’s development will be designed by French architect Rudy Ricciotti and includes two restaurants and 122 parking spaces. It’s adjacent to the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center and the newly renovated and expanded Miami Beach Convention Center.

In November, Miami Beach residents will vote on a proposal that would allow a team led by developers Jackie Soffer and David Martin to build a new convention center hotel. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and an Amazon Go store (Credit: Getty Images)

Amazon’s plans to roll out 3,000 of its cashier-free stores in the next three years could come with a $3 billion price tag.

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth this week opened its first Amazon Go shop outside of its hometown, and wants rapidly to dramatically expand its brick-and-mortar retail footprint nationwide. The first store excluding Seattle opened this week in Chicago, and it already has plans for locations in New York and San Francisco,

Morgan Stanley analysts told Bloomberg the Amazon Go expansion could require an investment of $500 million to $3 billion, but the technology needed to operate the “just walk out” shopping experience could push the cost to the high end of that range.

Customers scan an app on their phone when they arrive at an Amazon Go store. The location is filled with cameras and sensors that track shoppers, identify the products they select then charge their accounts without requiring immediate payment.

The first Amazon Go in Seattle required $1 million in hardware alone, but even a nationwide rollout and the technology it would require would still reflect a tiny fraction of Amazon’s $200 billion retail operating expenses this year.

But it would make the e-commerce giant one of the biggest players in a grocery industry where competitors are already “scared shitless” — according to one supply chain consultant — of how the company’s acquisition of Whole Foods will affect their bottom lines. [Bloomberg] — John O’Brien

From left, Ron Shuffield of EWM Realty International, Nancy Klock Corey of Coldwell Banker and Mike Pappas of The Keyes Company.

Comparing his own brokerage to a speedboat, Douglas Elliman Florida CEO Jay Phillip Parker says one of his biggest competitors, Coldwell Banker, is more akin to an ocean liner.

“They are a massive operation, and it’s always easier to turn a speedboat than an ocean liner,” Parker declared. “We have much more flexibility.”

Indeed, Coldwell Banker is a far larger brokerage than Douglas Elliman. The former is 88,000 agents strong, with offices in 49 countries and all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Within South Florida, Coldwell Banker has 1,600 agents in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

In contrast, Douglas Elliman has 7,000 agents with offices in the northeast United States, Colorado, California and Florida. In South Florida, Douglas Elliman’s sales force, which has a greater focus on selling luxury real estate, consists of 1,000 agents — nearly 40 percent less than Coldwell’s representation in the region.

Not surprisingly, Nancy Klock Corey, regional vice president of Coldwell Banker’s Southeast Division, takes issue with Parker’s ocean liner metaphor, saying she thinks her brokerage has more than enough flexibility and aggressiveness to move quickly, closing deals in all manner of residential real estate, luxury or otherwise. However, the brand does benefit from the scale of its operations.

“We are a global brand, literally a global brand,” Corey said. “You see our signs in South America and Europe. That’s very powerful for incoming buyers and sellers.”

The numbers back her claim. In The Real Deal’s ranking of the top brokerages within Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, Coldwell Banker, which closed $3.9 billion in residential deals across all three counties over 12 months, had the highest combined sales volume of the residential brokerages that appear in the rankings.

Douglas Elliman finished third with $2.6 billion in residential transactions in South Florida in the past year, according to the analysis of MLS data by TRD.

And coming in second? That would be the Keyes Company, a real estate firm that started in Miami back in 1926 and has been owned by the Pappas family since 1969. Keyes, with 3,000 associates, closed $3.4 billion in transactions across the tri-county region.

Mike Pappas, CEO of Keyes, said his company’s success has a lot to do with it being rooted in “family values,” unlike the “outside Wall Street firms that are trying to disrupt the market.”

To drill into the mechanics of the top-performing brokerages in the tri-county region, TRD ranked them by closed sales volume between August 2017 and July 2018. TRD obtained the data from the Miami Association of Realtors MLS, the Realtor Association of Palm Beach & Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors MLS, and confirmed the sales totals with the brokerages themselves. Off-market transactions and presales for planned residential projects were not counted. Brokerages were given full credit for agents closing sales on the listing side and the buyer’s side; if the same brokerage represented both the buyer and seller in a closed deal, the closing was counted twice for that brokerage.

As the rankings show, hundreds of millions of dollars have been traded on South Florida properties as median home prices rose in all three counties. In Miami-Dade, the median sales price for single-family homes in August was $369,450 — that’s up 10.3 percent from the same month the year before. The median price for townhouses and condo units was up 8 percent from August 2017, to $243,000, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. In Broward and Palm Beach counties, the median sales price for single-family homes inched up too — by 2.9 and just over 4 percent, respectively, according to Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors and the Realtor Association of Palm Beach.

It’s a market that is showing signs of “maturity,” Parker said. “We are evolving from a boom-bust type market,” he said. “People are moving here as full-time residents. We’re no longer a destination for flight capital.”

It’s also a market that is seeing more American purchasers instead of foreign buyers, added Ron Shuffield, president and CEO of EWM Realty International, which ranked first in Miami-Dade, closing almost $1.5 billion in transactions there.

“Domestic buyers have increased dramatically over the last 10 years, including New Yorkers and all the major cities,” Shuffield said. “International buyers, they don’t have the buying power they once had.”

Headhunting

No matter what the state of the market may be, a brokerage is only as good as the talent it employs. Thus, efforts to recruit are a constant and of paramount importance.

“The lifeblood of this business is people,” said Shuffield, whose company has 900 associates and staff in South Florida. Poaching from other companies is a part of that. “We will certainly reach out to them,” he said of agents at other firms. “I think that happens in every field.”

Still, Shuffield said EWM isn’t obnoxious about its recruiting efforts, unlike some other companies he declined to name. “We don’t hound people. We don’t call them relentlessly,” Shuffield said. “Some of our competitors … oh my gosh, they keep calling.”

Parker said Douglas Elliman poaches from other brokerages, too, though he doesn’t seem particularly fond of the practice. “I think it’s one of the more disturbing [things] we do,” he said. Often agents acquired from poaching aren’t very loyal to the brokerage, Parker observed, adding that he finds it frustrating when competing brokerages try to poach Douglas Elliman agents with inflated offers. “They’re being offered the moon and the stars,” he said.

Pappas said Keyes hired between 100 and 150 brokers in the past year alone. He noted that the firm recently lured “a $25-million-dollar producer” away from one of its competitors. “If you talk to a brokerage that doesn’t recruit, they’re not going to be in business,” said Pappas, whose company closed more than $2 billion in transactions within Palm Beach County alone, making it the top firm in that county.

And Pappas did embrace the competitive nature of getting good people, adding that his company’s recruits tend to stick with his company: “We are very competitive. We are very aggressive. Our top producers stay with us 30 or 40 years.”
Most brokerage leaders declined to say what they offered to brokers they wished to poach, although Parker insisted he has never given out a signing bonus for brokers coming to Douglas Elliman.

Pappas said that what his brokerage offers its recruits varies, but involves the “transition dollars” and “marketing dollars” necessary to bring an individual into the Keyes fold.

“I think each individual deal is unique. You’ve got to understand the individual and what he wants and desires,” Pappas said.

David Chambless, owner and vice president of United Realty Group, said his company refuses to poach.“We don’t poach from anybody,” Chambless declared. “We don’t believe in it.”

Instead, United Realty Group, a Plantation-headquartered company of 2,500 agents, lets everyone in real estate know that URG agents get to keep 100 percent of their commission, minus a $299 flat transaction fee.

“We try to pay them within 24 to 48 hours of closing,” Chambless said.

Other brokerage leaders TRD contacted for this story declined to specify the commission splits on deals.

Scooping up smaller firms

Many of the biggest players in the market have in the last few years been acquiring smaller firms to gain market share or expand into new territory. Keyes, for example, acquired the Palm Beach Country Realty Group in Boynton Beach in June. Keyes also bought Realty Pros in Boynton Beach and Rickenbacker Realty in Aventura in January of this year. And, in the past eight years, Keyes has acquired several other companies in South Florida, including the Valore Group, Echo Fine Properties and Illustrated Properties.

ONE Sotheby’s International, which came in fourth in TRD’s ranking in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, is less than 10 years old. It was founded by Mayi de la Vega in December 2008. Nevertheless, it has assembled a force of 850 agents thanks to recruiting and acquiring three real estate brokerages between 2015 and 2017: South Beach Investment Realty (founded by hotelier Diane Lieberman); Bay Harbor Island-based Crescendo Real Estate; and Aventura-based Turnberry International Realty. “They had a lot of top producing agents and they fit well with the Sotheby’s brand,” said Daniel de la Vega, president of ONE Sotheby’s (and Mayi’s son).

Douglas Elliman has grown its South Florida presence by absorbing smaller brokerages, too. Just this past July, the brokerage took over Pink Palm Properties in Boca Raton.

And Brown Harris Stephens entered the Miami market — and grew its presence within it — through acquisitions, starting with its purchase of Zilbert International Realty and following up with Ocean Club Realty, Avatar Real Estate Services and Opulence International Realty. It’s now the sixth top brokerage by closed sales in Miami-Dade, with $565 million in transactions.

The out-of-state hookup

As “tax refugees” from other states come looking for properties under Florida’s eminently more appealing tax laws, relationships with brokerages outside the state are helpful in scoring those incoming buyers. Coldwell Banker’s affiliation with real estate giant NRT, for example, makes it part of a global network where agents can trade leads, intel and clients. “That’s what generates most of the business, back and forth,” Corey said.

Executives of other top producing brokerages say their reach beyond Florida is potent, too. Keyes and EWM are part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a networking alliance with 130,000 sales associates in 70 nations. “They share broker-to-broker referrals across the globe,” EWM’s Shuffield explained.

EWM itself has been a part of a larger empire — Berkshire Hathaway — since 2003. That allows EWM to draw on the resources and referrals of 45 “sister companies” across the U.S., Shuffield said.

Parker said Douglas Elliman is also uniquely positioned to take advantage of the wave of wealthy individuals moving away from states with high income state taxes. “We’re in constant dialogue with our offices in New York and California,” Parker said.

Daniel de la Vega said ONE Sotheby’s regularly interacts with other Sotheby’s International franchises across the world. He’s particularly proud of his partnership with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, a top-producing brokerage in Long Island, New York, which employs 750 agents. Thanks to that relationship, de la Vega said, ONE Sotheby’s has been able to reach lots of potential buyers from New York’s tri-state area who are interested in purchasing houses or condos in South Florida. “We probably have the strongest presence when you look at the tri-state area,” de la Vega bragged.

An out-of-state connection makes a difference even when a brokerage doesn’t have a large presence in South Florida. The Corcoran Group, headquartered in New York City, has just two offices in Palm Beach County — one in Delray Beach and the other in the Town of Palm Beach. Between them, the two offices have just 150 agents. Nevertheless, Corcoran managed to close just over $1 billion in transactions, the fourth highest level in Palm Beach County.

John Hackett, senior managing director of Corcoran South Florida, said his company is focused on Palm Beach County’s coastal communities “where typically the highest price sales occur.” They’re also very particular about their associates.

“Our model is basically to bring the finest talent we can find to our company,” Hackett added. “We don’t generally bring on brand-new agents straight out of real estate school. We’re hiring seasoned agents.”

Other real estate executives tout their local focus as a reason for their strength. Chambless noted that United Realty Group has no presence outside the tri-county area, yet it managed to close about $690 million in transactions, putting it in second place in Broward County in TRD’s ranking.

“That’s where we began our company [in 2002] and that’s where we began our own base,” said Chambless.

United Realty Group also closed the ninth highest number of transactions in Palm Beach County with $421 million. Chambless said he’s grown his company’s presence there by recently opening an office in Boynton Beach, and added that “Palm Beach has a very strong market.”

Prices are up, interest rates are rising, and it’s tough for a lot of people to qualify to buy a home. So what do some of them do? A growing number of them fake it.

According to mortgage-fraud researchers, income misrepresentations on home-loan applications were up 22.1 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2017. Ominously, most of it is not traceable to criminals trying to bilk lenders out of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars through traditional loan swindles. Rather it’s increasingly what researchers call “bona fide” borrowers who don’t have the incomes to qualify but are determined to get a home mortgage, even if they have to mislead the lender.

How’s this happening? The Internet makes it easy. Researchers say many applicants can now go online and find sites that will help them create customized pay and employment records, sometimes even confirmable by a phone call by the loan officer to an “employer” that doesn’t exist. Or they borrow thousands of dollars for their down payment but swear to the lender that it’s an interest-free present from a cousin or a brother, documented with a genuine-looking gift letter using a form obtainable online.

It’s all part of one of the least-reported issues in the real estate market of 2018: Home-purchase mortgage frauds are on the rise and are posing cat-and-mouse challenges to major players, including banks and big investors like Fannie Mae.

Here’s a quick overview:

— Overall fraud in mortgage applications jumped by 12.4 percent from a year ago, according to realty analytics firm CoreLogic, which has access to a massive national database of loan applications and issues periodic reports on the subject. Falsifying income is the fastest- growing form of application fraud, but other types of misrepresentations also are on the rise, including occupancy fraud, where applicants tell lenders they plan to live in the house they are buying but instead they rent it out, sharply raising the risk of default and loss for the unsuspecting lender.

— Fannie Mae recently warned lenders via several alerts about a loan-fraud technique in which applicants claim to work for specific companies and provide income and employment information that appears to be bullet-proof but turns out to be totally bogus. Applicants frequently claim to have been students immediately prior to their current employment. This makes it difficult or impossible for lenders to pull tax transcripts from the IRS for the year spent as a “student.” Applicants also claim salaries that appear to be high for their age or experience. Fannie Mae has seen the scam mainly in California, but CoreLogic says it is now spreading across the country.

“The typical scenario is a new job with a significant pay increase or a high-paying first job out of college,” said CoreLogic in its fraud report. “Some fake employer setups are well-organized and provide pay stubs, phone verifications” and even fake diplomas. “Some of these services are openly advertised on the internet” and feature multiple levels of services and fees.

In an interview, Bridget Berg, CoreLogic’s senior director of fraud solutions, told me the increase in fraud by home-purchase applicants is partially a “function of what’s going on in the real-estate market” — large numbers of would-be buyers squeezed out by rising prices, frustrated by not being quite able to afford what they want, and motivated to “embellish” or simply make stuff up. Berg noted, however, that although “fraud risk” as measured by her company’s research is on the rise and troubling, it still represents a small fraction of total loans being originated — just under 1 percent.

George Souto, a loan officer with William Raveis Mortgage in Middletown, Connecticut, says that although he doesn’t see many applications containing outright fraud, he does encounter situations where applicants make overly generous estimates of their incomes. These applicants don’t do this with the purpose of defrauding the lender, but because the income they report to the IRS is lower than their actual earnings before tax deductions for expenses.

But other lenders say too many borrowers don’t see scrupulous truth on mortgage applications as all that important. Joseph Metzler of Mortgages Unlimited in St. Paul, Minnesota, says they “feel it’s OK to pad information or leave it out, to improve their chances of getting approved.”

But it’s not. It’s bank fraud and comes with serious potential penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

The Peak with a money sky in Hong Kong (Credit: Wikipedia)

If you thought land deals in New York were insane, have a seat. A plot of government land in Hong Kong is expected to fetch an eye-popping $13,000 a square foot, a record for the city and possibly the world.

The 404,300-square-foot piece of land in The Peak, Hong Kong’s ritziest neighborhood, is expected to sell for $5.1 billion. At that price it would be the most valuable piece of land ever sold in the city, according to the South China Morning Post.

The enormous price ticket is partly due to scarce available land in the Southern District and The Peak, which makes up only 1 percent of available residential land in the city, according to Thomas Lam, a senior director at Knight Frank.

“It will become the new land king,” Lam told the outlet. “Available land in this upscale district is very rare and developers would be very aggressive in bidding for the site.”

It is the first government-owned piece of land in the area sold in eight years, since another property was sold for $1.3 billion, or $4,000 a square foot.

Existing homes in The Peak also command exorbitant prices. A four-bedroom home in The Peak was listed this week for $440 million, and that home is almost certainly a tear-down.

A development site that once contained a historic villa at 75 Peak Road sold in 2015 for $657.8 million, and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma also bought a house on Peak Road a few years ago for $193 million. [SCMP] — David Jeans 

Flooded North Carolina homes (Credit: Getty Images)

Hurricane Florence-related damages could impact $1.49 billion worth of securitized commercial mortgages, according to a report from Morningstar Credit Ratings.

The storm has been devastating North Carolina with flooding and record-breaking rainfall, and Morningstar found 189 properties backing 187 securitized loans in counties designated as disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The state’s Cumberland and New Hanover Counties had the most exposure at $1.05 billion.

Freddie Mac deals on multifamily properties account for 32.8 percent of the total exposure.

Morningstar does not expect a wave of loan defaults to stem from the storm, as business-interruption insurance should be able to cover any gaps in service that may arise for most properties.

However, flood damage could still prevent the refinancing of some existing loans and jeopardize the payoff of about $51.5 million in securitized loans due to mature over the next year.

Morningstar’s securitized commercial mortgage estimate for Hurricane Florence is much smaller than its estimate for securitized commercial mortgages after Hurricane Irma, when it projected that $26.6 billion worth of them were at risk.

Analysts said the storm will likely impact home sales and construction in the coming months, and it could lead to a rise in flood insurance prices as well. An undersupply of apartments in the small cities that Florence has hit could make it especially challenging to relocate residents displaced by the storm.

Starwood Capital Group CEO Barry Sternlicht, CapitaLand Limited CEO Lee Chee Koon, and Marquessa Villas in Corona, CA

CapitaLand has touched down in the United States multifamily market in a big way, courtesy of Starwood Capital.

The Singapore-based investment firm acquired an $835 million portfolio of 16 properties across the U.S. from Miami Beach-based Starwood. The portfolio includes 3,787 residential units at a price of around $220,000 per unit.

CapitaLand announced the deal Thursday but did not disclose the seller. Records show the properties are owned by entities tied to Starwood. Starwood could not be reached for comment.

The portfolio includes three properties in the Los Angeles area that total 1,144 units. The other 13 properties are spread across three other cities: Seattle, Denver and Portland, Oregon.

CapitaLand has plans to renovate or otherwise improve the properties and said it intended to grow the portfolio. The company said it could spin off some of the assets into investment vehicles or partnerships, according to a release that accompanied the announcement.

The purchase is a big move for Capitaland’s president and CEO, Lee Chee Koon. The 43-year-old is on his fourth day at the helm of the $93 billion firm. CapitaLand’s holdings include five real estate investment trusts listed in Singapore.

Its core markets are its own island-nation and China. But the company also owns four hotels in New York City. Those include the Sheraton Tribeca at 350 Canal Street and the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York at 431 W. 36th Street. Capitaland also owns one hotel in California, in Sunnyvale.

Aerial view of homes in South Florida (Credit: Pxhere)

Residential sales are still climbing across South Florida, according to August figures from Florida Realtors. Median prices are also still rising, but at a slower pace than before.

The total sales volume for residential closings in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties was $3.27 billion in August, up more than 16 percent from $2.81 billion in the same month the previous year.

Across the country, existing home sales were down 1.5 percent last month, compared to the same period last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Miami-Dade

Residential sales in Miami-Dade saw the biggest jump in the tri-county region, rising 13.25 percent to 2,444 closings in August. Single-family home sales increased 10.5 percent to 1,186, while condo sales were up 15.9 percent to 1,258 closings.

The median sale price also rose, up 6.7 percent to $360,000 for single-family homes and up 2.2 percent to $230,000 for condos. While prices are still increasing, they’re doing so at a slower pace.

Broward

Closings in Broward grew 4.4 percent to 3,011, thanks to an 8.8 percent increase in condo sales to 1,480. Single-family home sales inched forward, up 0.5 percent to 1,531.

In Broward, the median sale price for homes was $360,000, a 3 percent increase from August 2017. For condos, the median price rose 6.1 percent to $165,500.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach County also experienced a bump in residential sales, up 2.17 percent to 2,774. Home sales rose 1.7 percent to 1,576, and condo sales increased 2.8 percent to 1,198.

The median price for single-family homes was flat year-over-year at $340,000, and it jumped 5.7 percent to $185,000.

Elvis Dumervil in front of his office in North Miami (Credit: Amanda Rabines)

During his 12-year National Football League career, Elvis Dumervil tackled his way to success with teams like the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. He signed four multimillion-dollar contracts — but he knew the money and the profession wouldn’t last forever.

“I knew football was a great opportunity, but I knew it was a job, not a career – there’s a big difference,” Dumervil said. “A career is something you do for life. Football, unfortunately, when you get too old, you can’t play the young man’s sport.”

As his football career began winding down in 2015, Dumervil began transitioning into real estate, buying a small multifamily building in Fort Lauderdale. Today, he’s busy establishing a firm footing in South Florida’s real estate game. Dumervil has amassed a portfolio of more than 700 multifamily units, mostly concentrated in North Miami and North Miami Beach, since forming his property management and investment firm Prestige Estates in 2016.

His company focuses on buying and renovating apartment complexes. It’s currently in the midst of completing a two-story multifamily building called Prestige Waterfront, which required a full gut-renovation of its interiors.

“It’s probably the closest I’ve come to development,” Dumervil said.

Rents at his properties range from $1,200 for a one-bedroom to $2,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. Each complex features royal blue doors – a signature of his firm’s projects.

Dumervil, a former defensive linebacker, joins a number of athletes who have moved on to real estate. Though some have become brokers, others like basketball legend Magic Johnson and Maurice “Mo” Vaughn, who founded the real estate company Omni New York in 2003, have entered the investment and development business.

The Real Deal interviewed Dumervil at his office at 14050 Northeast Sixth Avenue in North Miami.  The interview has been condensed for space.

What was your childhood like?

It was different, but sometimes different is OK. Single mom. Youngest of four. Father separated from us when I was three. From there, my mom would work a couple of jobs. It was a great childhood, but we moved around a lot. I lived in Little Haiti, Liberty City, Opa-Locka and different parts of Miami. But we got better every time we moved. That’s where I learned what progress meant.

I know you had a very successful football career, but at what point did you decide to start saving up money to get into real estate?

I remember my first three years in the NFL I was going in debt. In the real world it’s serious money, but when you’re trying to take care of your family and live the lifestyle of an eight-year veteran… I just didn’t know.

Right before the 2009 season, near the end of my third year of a four-year contract, I remember thinking this is my opportunity to get into the big leagues. I went on having my best year ever. I was rewarded a huge contract [$61.5 million, according to spotrac.com] from the Broncos’ owner, and I thought what will I do differently?

Did you have an idea it was going to be real estate?

I always loved Monopoly. I was very competitive. It wasn’t until in Baltimore, around 2014, when I hurt my Achilles — I was out for a year — and I said let me start investing.

You signed four contracts totaling $97.5 million — how much did you save? And how did you start?

Throughout my entire career, I probably saved 80 to 85 percent of it.

I started with a little house that went well. Then I bought a little 37-unit apartment building in Fort Lauderdale that went really bad.

What did you learn about your Fort Lauderdale experience?

I learned it’s hard to manage if you’re not prepared. I had no clue what I was doing. I thought you get your building, just like Monopoly, but Monopoly didn’t teach me you actually have to go in there and do maintenance work. It’s not just about collecting rent. Now you’re dealing with lenders and most importantly people’s livelihoods. It’s one of the reasons why every building that I ever buy – all of them – the first thing we do is put in new windows and A/C.

Is there some sort of crossover between football and real estate?

Real estate is kind of like football, there are so many moving parts. Everybody has their own responsibility, their own jobs, but we all need each other.

And like football, the numbers don’t lie. Either you occupy or don’t. In the NFL you win or lose. Your record is what you are. You can’t say you’re great management with only 80 percent occupancy. The truth is in the pudding, so for me I love the rawness about it. You can’t hide in this business.

Why did you begin investing in North Miami and North Miami Beach?

I always believed in building right in your own backyard. That’s why I say I was blessed to have grown up in Miami and not somewhere like Kansas.

I think people that originally started in North Miami in the 60’s and 70’s were brilliant. The buildings, the architecture of North Miami is beautiful and different. The problem that I think happened was the next generation came in and somehow that vision got lost. And when you don’t [invest] into the building, then people come in and they treat it as such. Now I’m here to say how can we get it back to the original vision.

Shlomy Alexander, St. Regis Bal Harbour

Miami luxury home developer Shlomy Alexander just paid $5.5 million for a condo at the St. Regis Bal Harbour.

Alexander bought unit 1401 in the south tower at 9701 Collins Avenue in Bal Harbour from Ausdav Real Estate of Toronto, property records show. The price for the 3,524-square-foot condo equates to $1,560 per square foot.

Ausdav had paid $5.67 million in November for the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom unit, meaning the property traded at a discount of about $170,000.

Alexander is the founder of the Alexander Group, a high-end spec home developer with projects in South Florida, the Hamptons, New York City and Aspen. In South Florida, his developments include 3 Indian Creek Island Road, which sold for $47 million in 2012; 252 Bal Bay Drive in Bal Harbour, which is on the market for $28 million; and 3541 Flamingo Drive in Miami Beach, which is now completed and held by trusts in the names of his children.

St. Regis Bal Harbour is a condo-hotel project across the street from Bal Harbour Shops. Qatari-based Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company purchased the hotel portion of the project for $213 million in 2014. The 27-story luxury hotel includes 192 rooms and 24 condo-hotel units.

Other notable condo owners at the St. Regis include the wife of former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, as well as the CEO of Godiva Chocolatier Mohamed Elsarky and his wife, Irma, who paid $6.5 million for a unit in October 2017.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun and a single family home (Credit: National Association of Realtors and iStock)

Rising home prices and dwindling inventory across the U.S. accounted for an August slowdown in the overall number of home sales.

Existing home sales were down 1.5 percent last month, compared to the same period last year, according to a monthly report released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

Meanwhile, prices of existing homes rose 4.6 percent last month, the report showed.

Still, the downward trend in sales — which has been recorded for the last months — may be turning around. The seasonally adjusted rate of monthly sales remained flat from July to August, at 5.3 million homes. That broke a four-month-long slide.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said strong sales in the Northeast and Midwest helped balance out slides in the western and southeastern U.S.

The top end of the market was the strongest of any segment in August.

Year over year, sales of home priced above $250,000 rose, while sales for homes below that price fell. Sales above $1 million jumped 11.8 percent, more than any other segment. Sales of homes between $750,000 and $1 million were up by 8.6 percent.

Inventory was up slightly from a year ago. More than half of all homes sold across the U.S. took less than one month from the time they were listed, suggesting that the appetite among buyers remains high. Low inventory at pricing below $250,000 could be contributing to the drop in sales below that price, according to NAR.

Rising interest rates could be worsening the situation. Mortgage rates started to rise earlier this year, prompting some buyers to scramble to lock in a rate, and prompting others to wait out the market until pricing comes back down, market pros have said.

Home sales could dip again in September, NAR reported.

The Real Deal South Florida’s fall issue

The Real Deal’s latest quarterly issue is live, and digital subscribers to TRD are getting the first look at what’s inside.

Subscribers now have access to stories including:

– An alleged billion-dollar embezzlement and money-laundering scheme and the South Florida luxury properties involved
– Our annual ranking of the tri-county region’s top real estate brokerages
– A look at the biggest sources of foreign capital in South Florida real estate
– An exclusive interview with Jules Trump

Subscribe now to stay one step ahead of the South Florida real estate game.

Non-subscribers will get access to TRD’s magazine stories on Sept. 26.

(Credit: iStock)

A South Florida real estate agent is suing over unsolicited text messages sent through Realtor.com, and is seeking class-action status of the suit.

Weston agent Courtney Silverman of the Keyes Company filed suit in the Fort Lauderdale division of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida against the National Association of Realtors and News Corp. subsidiary Move Inc.

The complaint alleges that the companies “engaged in systematic text-message-advertising campaigns, without regard for the law or the privacy rights of others” and that they violated the Telephone Protection Consumer Act, according to Inman. NAR owns the domain Realtor.com, and Move Inc. operates the website.

Silverman replied “Stop” to the messages, receiving replies that she was unsubscribed. But the messages continued, totaling more than 200, Silverman’s attorney Jordan Shaw told Inman. She’s seeking statutory damages and a permanent injunction that would ban both companies from using automatic systems that call and text numbers without prior consent.

Earlier this year, two real estate agents filed suit against Move Inc., claiming Realtor.com provided “useless” buyer leads despite, in some cases, charging hundreds of dollars each month. That suit also sought class-action status. [Inman] – Katherine Kallergis

(Credit: iStock)

Developer Alex Karakhanian is partnering with Wynwood Investment Partners to build a mixed-use hotel in Wynwood.

The joint venture, called Triumph Wynwood, plans to develop the 1.2-acre site at 51 Northwest 29th Street into a 12-story hotel with more than 300,000 square feet of space, a 60,000-square-foot Class A office component and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The luxury lifestyle hotel will have about 125 rooms and feature a rooftop bar, open workspace, a restaurant with outdoor terraces, pool, spa and gym. Depending on when the joint venture breaks ground, the project could be the first hotel in Wynwood.

Karakhanian, of Lndmrk Development, said the group is in the design phase and plans to break ground in late 2019.

State records show Felix Reznick, Arie Feldman and Michael Shwarts of New York, control Wynwood Investment Partners. Felix Bendersky of F+B Hospitality Leasing represented both sides of the joint venture.

Karakhanian said the project could cost between $50 million and $75 million to develop. He paid about $9.41 million to assemble the site between 2016 and 2018.

In May, Karakhanian’s firm paid $12.2 million for an office and retail building on Northwest 25th Street in Wynwood, leased to GoPro, Scripps Network, Revlon and other tenants.

Late last year, High Cube LLC, a company controlled by Sterling Equity Realty broker Robert Ziehm, filed a building permit with the city of Miami for an eight-story, 95-room hotel at 51 and 45 Northwest 28th streets.

220 Congress Park Drive and TMT’s Joseph Maas, Susan and Paul Burrell

TMT Properties just bought an office building in Delray Beach for $11.4 million.

TMT principal Joseph Maas said the 54,000-square-foot property at 220 Congress Park Drive was part of a 1031 exchange, with the buyer selling two commercial properties in Hollywood for $4.47 million.

The deal breaks down to about $210 per square foot. The seller is a company tied to the Canadian investment firm ICM Realty Group. Records show the company paid $8 million for the nearly 4-acre property in 2014. It was built in 1984.

Cushman and Wakefield’s Scott O’Donnell and Greg Miller represented both sides of the deal. TMT financed the deal with an $8.6 million loan from Grove Bank & Trust. Real estate attorney Michele Softness of Carlton Fields represented the lender.

The building sold 100 percent leased to tenants that include a travel agency firm, WMPH Vacations, and Specialized Healthcare Partners. The office is also leased to a number of government tenants like the offices for the Florida Auditor General and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Maas said.

In March, TMT bought a 112,300-square-foot shopping center in Boca Raton for $18.5 million. 

ICM Realty Group, based in Calgary, Canada is an investment fund and portfolio manager with more than $650 million of assets, according to its website. The company also has an office in Delray Beach.

HNA founder Chen Feng and 245 Park Avenue (Credit: Wikipedia and 245parkave)

Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, the largest shareholder in Deutsche Bank, is reportedly selling its stake in the German bank. The move comes as chairman Chen Fang increases his control over the company with the appointment of relatives to key company positions.

The Chinese firm, which spent $40 billion on overseas acquisitions and has carried as much as $90 billion in debt, has been told by the Chinese government to offload all assets except its core airline business, according to Bloomberg.

HNA holds 7.64 percent of Deutsche Bank’s shares and it is expected to withdraw from the company slowly, which could start as early as the first quarter of 2019.

The Chinese government has reportedly sought to rein in spending of the country’s largest firms amid fears of increasing debt pressure.

In New York City, it was reported in June that SL Green Realty agreed to buy HNA’s stake in 245 Park Avenue, the building HNA bought last year for $2.2 billion. HNA also sold 1180 Sixth Avenue to Northwood Investors earlier this year.

Following the sudden death of co-founder Wang Jian in July, chairman Chen Feng has also consolidated power at the firm. Chen’s son Daniel on Tuesday was elected to the HNA Group board of directors and his nephew Dennis was named a vice president. Chen Feng’s son serves as president of HNA North America, according to the Financial Times. [Bloomberg] — David Jeans

An Amazon distribution center (Credit: iStock)

With manufacturing on the decline, developers are increasingly turning old industrial buildings into distribution centers.

According to a report by Newmark Knight Frank, e-commerce is driving demand for industrial properties that can be repositioned into or demolished to make way for distribution centers. Many of these warehouses are located in northern and central New Jersey, where sites offer quick access to highways, rails and ports. In Piscataway, the Rockefeller Group is turning a 228-acre site — formerly home to a Dow Chemical plastics factory — into five buildings that will span 2.1 million square feet for distribution use. Best Buy is the project’s first tenant, the New York Times reported.

In the past decade, the U.S. has lost roughly 640,000 manufacturing jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thomas Hanna, president of Harvey Hanna & Associates, said that while “manufacturing isn’t entirely dead” his company couldn’t make the economics work to keep a former General Motors assembly plant in Delaware as a factory for luxury cars. Instead, the company will raze the plant to make way for four buildings designed for the logistics industry.

“Logistics is the fastest-growing segment within the real estate industry,” Hanna said. “Everyone is trying to figure out how to get their product to the consumer the fastest.”

In 2014, Amazon opened a miniature warehouse in Manhattan at Vornado Realty Trust’s 7 West 34th Street. Last year, the company announced that it would open its first large-scale distribution center in the city at Matrix Development Group’s 546 Gulf Avenue in Staten Island. [NYT] — Kathryn Brenzel

“XpressWest” – a high-speed rail project that will connect Las Vegas to Southern California, with plans to link directly to Los Angeles

The 270-mile drive from Downtown Los Angeles to Las Vegas – one of the most traveled routes in the country – normally takes more than four hours to complete. Now an East Coast rail company plans to cut that in half.

Florida-based firm Brightline announced this week that it will acquire “XpressWest” – a high-speed rail project that will connect Las Vegas to Southern California, with plans to link directly to Los Angeles.

Construction is expected to begin next year, and Brightline is planning to begin service in 2022. When complete, the rail line will be the second privately funded intercity passenger rail system in the country.

Southern California has been working to create regional and interstate high-speed rail options for years. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has proposed creating a Hyperloop that would connect riders from Los Angeles and San Francisco in under an hour.

Brightline, part of parent company Fortress Investment Group, will take over the development and operation of the L.A.-to-Vegas project. When it’s complete, the firm expects to make the trip under two hours for passengers, without having to drive or wait through security at the airport.

The first station planned for Southern California will be in Victorville. The rail is planned along the Interstate-15 corridor and trains will be able to travel over 150 mph to arrive in Las Vegas in about 80 minutes. The federally approved system will be interoperable with the California High Speed Rail system, with a planned station in Palmdale, and future service into Burbank and Los Angeles’ Union Station.

Brightline will also extend its rail to existing Metrolink commuter systems with service to Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. It is expected to divert an estimated 25 percent of the existing 50 million annual trips off of the freeway between the two regions.

“Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly,” Wes Edens, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group, said in a statement.

An average round trip ticket on Brightline’s rail is expected to cost $89. On board the trains, staff will offer riders hotel check-in services, and dinner and show reservations.

The firm is also in the process of acquiring 38 acres of land adjacent to the Las Vegas strip to construct a station and mixed-use development.

The rail project marks a major expansion for Brightline, as it will be the firm’s first corridor outside of Florida. The company operates rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

The company is currently expanding to Orlando and plans to expand into Tampa. Earlier this month, The Real Deal reported that Brightline officials have started working with city managers in four additional cities – Fort Pierce, Sebastian, Stuart and Vero Beach – to identify more possible station locations.

1374 South Venetian Way, Fabian Garcia-Diaz, Allan Kleer and Roy Benmeir (Credit: FRI Photography for One Sotheby’s)

UPDATED, Sept. 19, 5:50 p.m.: French magazine editor Jean Pierre Cohen paid $11.7 million for a home on the Venetian Islands.

Cohen, editor-in-chief of Résidences Immobilier, a luxury real estate publication, closed on 1374 South Venetian Way on San Marco Island in Miami on Tuesday, according to the agents involved in the deal. The nearly 8,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom home features a rooftop, glass-walled pool, a dock, a home theater and fireplace.

It was listed with Allan Kleer and Fabian Garcia-Diaz of One Sotheby’s International Realty for $13.9 million. The price set a record for San Marco Island, according to a release. Roy and Rachel Benmeir of One Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer.

Property records show Craig M. Dorne, acting as a trustee on behalf of the Gerald H. Goldfarb trust, is the seller. The property last sold for $6.4 million in 2013. The home was developed on a waterfront 10,500-square-foot lot in 2006.

One Sotheby’s said the home is one of a handful in Miami-Dade County to have a rooftop pool.

A number of properties have sold in the Venetian Islands in recent months to buyers who include Menin Hospitality principal Keith Menin  and developer Alex Sapir.

An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect address. 

X Miami and Ryan Shear

Property Markets Group secured a $106 million loan for X Miami, a recently completed rental tower in downtown Miami.

Pacific Western Bank is providing the financing, which will be used to pay off an existing $80 million loan for the 32-story, 462-unit building at 240 Northeast Fourth Street, according to a press release. Centennial Bank was PMG’s construction lender.

PMG’s Andrew Warman, Jonathan Blank and Matt Ellish worked on the loan. Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr attorneys Luis Flores, Rebecca Abrams Sarelson and Louis P. Archambault represented the developer.

PMG completed X Miami earlier this year. The tower includes a slew of high-tech features, and amenities like a gym, sky dog park, screening lounge, co-working lab, pool deck and bars. In August, the developer announced The Guild Hotels was opening on four floors of the building, offering virtual check-in and check-out for its 64 units.

Alliance is handling the majority of leasing with ISG. Rents range from the $1,300s and go up to about $3,000. The building offers rent-by-bedroom options.

The developer also financed construction with a $30 million preferred equity investment from Square Mile Capital. PMG plans to develop the adjacent site at 300 Biscayne Boulevard into a condo tower, but has yet to disclose its plans.

X Miami is part of PMG’s X Social Communities portfolio of apartments. The New York and Miami developer has about 10,000 rental units in its pipeline, including X Las Olas, a redevelopment of the Las Olas Riverfront with about 1,200 multifamily units.

U.S. Storage Centers and Carlyle Group’s Glenn A. Youngkin

An entity tied to William Warren Group just paid $100 million for three self-storage buildings spread throughout Miami-Dade County.

Property records show CRP/Westport Self Storage Dixie, a joint venture between the Carlyle Group and Westport Properties that operates as US Storage Centers, sold the buildings.

The self-storage facilities are located in Kendall, North Miami and North Miami Beach. Records show each were developed by the joint venture and completed within the past two years.

The facility at 13301 Southwest 87th Avenue fetched the highest price at $39.8 million. Records show the partners bought the 40,000-square-foot lot, which lies near The Falls shopping center, for $4 million in 2016.

A second facility with four stories, at 1396 Northeast 125th Street, sold for $31.7 million. The joint venture paid $3.6 million for the property in 2016. And the last facility, at 1555 West Dixie Highway, traded hands for $28.7 million. The developer paid $1.4 million 1.3-acre lot in 2015.

Carlyle is an investment firm based in Washington, D.C., with more than $200 billion worth of assets under its management, according to the firm’s website. Last month it sold the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa for $45 million with partner Urgo Hotels.

William Warren Group is a self-storage development, acquisition, property, and asset management company based in Santa Monica, California.

Americans are willing to tap home equity to pay bills (Credit: iStock)

Is paying the electricity bill worth taking out a second mortgage? Around one in six Americans thinks so.

About 24 million U.S. homeowners think it’s acceptable to tap into home equity to pay everyday household bills, according to a new report by Bankrate.com. The survey found that young, less educated, and lower earning homeowners were more apt to say so.

The survey found that nearly one in three homeowners who earn less than $30,000 annually think paying the bills is a good reason to take out a loan secured by their homes. That’s more than three times the rate of homeowners making more than $75,000 per year.

Around 21 percent of people with no more than a high school diploma think so, which is double that of homeowners with more education. A similar percentage of millennials would tap home equity to pay the bills, while just 12 percent of older homeowners would.

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate, said the results reflect that homeowners have little cash set aside for emergencies or surprise bills, and “speaks to how far some households are stretched on a monthly basis.”

Still, most homeowners surveyed said that traditional uses were the best reasons to tap into home equity. Around 57 percent said the best reason to borrow against their homes was for home improvements or repairs, compared to 19 percent for debt consolidation and 9 percent for education expenses.

The Bankrate report also showed that few homeowners are choosing to borrow against their homes. Only 1.1 percent of the $6 trillion in available home equity was tapped in the second quarter, down 3 percent year over year. It was also the lowest share since the first quarter of 2014.

Interest rates and consumer debt are climbing, so McBride expects more homeowners to borrow against their properties.

From left: EWM’s Ron Shuffield, Coldwell Banker’s Nancy Klock Corey and Keyes Company’s Mike Pappas (Credit: John Ritter)

The Real Deal Miami’s fall 2018 issue is almost here, and it’s jam-packed with juicy stories and rankings.

Tomorrow, digital subscribers will get first dibs on reading the magazine, including our fascinating cover story by reporter Keith Larsen, who dives deep into an alleged billion-dollar embezzlement and money-laundering scheme and the South Florida luxury properties involved.

The issue also features our annual ranking of the tri-county region’s top real estate brokerages, a look at the biggest sources of foreign capital in South Florida real estate, an exclusive interview with Jules Trump and plenty more.

Not a subscriber? Don’t miss out — subscribe now.

Sunny Isles Beach and a condo (Credit: Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons)

Sunny Isles Beach is saddled with 17 years of inventory of condos priced at $5 million and up, and overall, Miami-Dade County faces nearly five years of supply of high-end units, according to a new report.

Of the 348 units listed for sale on the Southeast Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service as of Aug. 31, about 30 percent, or 103 units, are in Sunny Isles Beach. Based on the six recorded sales between August 2017 and August 2018, that means that Sunny Isles is facing 206 months — or 17 years — of supply of the ultra high-end condos, said Ron Shuffield, president and CEO of EWM Realty International, which created the report.

In Miami Beach, 82 units asking $5 million and up were on the market as of the end of August, which comes out to about 2.6 years of supply based on about 2.5 units selling per month over the past year.

More than half of the available inventory is concentrated in Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach.

In Key Biscayne, 14 units are on the market with about two years of supply, Shuffield said.

Despite the excess inventory, Shuffield said sales of those $5 million-and-up units increased by 50 percent year-over-year as of Aug. 31 in Miami-Dade. The available supply fell from 98 months to 58 months. Pricing units correctly is key to that, he said.

The report does not include the preconstruction market, but developers are cutting deals with buyers, and Shuffield said that the new owners of new development units are reselling their condos for 25 percent less.

The average sale price of units that sold over the past year was 17 percent less than the average original listing price. And 96 percent of the 83 units that sold closed for under their original asking prices.

“We have a lot of satisfied sellers who reduced their prices accordingly, rather than waiting another year,” Shuffield said. “We just try to encourage our sellers to price no more than 5 percent above the value.”

From left: Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez, and the Foreign Security Council (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

A U.S. Treasury Department program that spotlights anonymous real estate purchases in a number of gateway cities could become a nationwide law if a Russian sanctions bill is passed.

The little-known provision in the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018, a bipartisan bill introduced to the Senate last month, would force title insurance companies to report the identities of people using limited liability companies behind high-priced real estate transactions across the country.

The provision signals a resounding push in Congress for greater transparency in real estate transactions, in line with multiple bills that seek to clamp down on bad actors using anonymous limited liability companies to launder money in the U.S.

“This is definitely a serious effort,” said David Murray, a former director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Illicit Finance. “The fact they managed to get this in, I think it’s a pretty big deal.”

Currently, the so-called Geographic Targeting Orders, a temporary program implemented by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, applies to a dozen counties where title insurance companies must disclose beneficial owners of anonymous LLC’s used to purchase real estate with cash. Those rules initially applied to transactions of more than $3 million in Manhattan and over $1 million in Miami. It’s now in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Honolulu.

Under the proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the program would become a law applied nationally. The draft law, which Sen. Graham called the “sanctions bill from hell,” seeks to clamp down on Russian interference in the midterm elections and impose sanctions on several Russian nationals. The title insurance rule was one of several anti-money laundering reform items included in the bill.

Corporate transparency advocates have welcomed the title insurance provision, but say it does not get to the heart of preventing money laundering in the United States: that beneficial ownership should be disclosed at the time an LLC is incorporated.

“We don’t think it replaces the need for more comprehensive reform,” said Gary Kalman, who heads the FACT Coalition, a corporate transparency advocacy group. “But it is clearly an important step forward.”

The title insurance industry agrees that the core issue lies with the fact that LLCs can be operated anonymously, and that beneficial ownership disclosure at the time an LLC is formed would remove the need for title insurance companies to find out who is behind a company.

“This isn’t something new for the industry in any way,” said Steven Gottheim, a senior counsel for the American Land Title Association. He said the GTO program has “not come cheaply” to the title insurance industry, but could not provide clear figures on the total cost.

Gottheim said that while he believes the bill was “cobbled together as a wishlist” for anti-money laundering reform, the inclusion of the title insurance rule heightens the conversation of the future of the GTO program.

The industry has long-bristled with the temporary nature of the GTO program and the added resources needed to conduct due diligence on anonymous LLC’s. The program, which was renewed last month, has been extended four times since it began in January 2016.

But among lawmakers, the GTO program has widely been viewed as a success: Over 30 percent of beneficial owners identified in the program had been previously cited in suspicious activity reports filed by financial institutions, which flagged possible money laundering or fraud, according to a February 2017 report. Another report in June found the number of companies using all cash to buy homes in Miami had fallen 95 percent since the program was introduced.

In its current form, the bill must pass through multiple hoops before becoming law and is yet to be scheduled for debate. Another roadblock was thrown in its path last week when President Trump signed an executive order that authorizes National Security director Dan Coats to investigate foreign interference in the midterm elections and impose sanctions, but does not target Russia specifically.

Lawmakers seeking to take more pointed action against Russia saw this as falling short of imposing legislative sanctions against Moscow. “I doubt it will be a substitute for legislation,” Sen. Graham told The New York Times.

An aide with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told TRD that the title insurance provision would “very likely expose several Russian oligarchs as beneficial owners.”

“The Graham-Menendez bill seeks to take the current Treasury program and expand it from those cities to nationwide,” the aide said. “The goal would be to create more transparency around who is stashing their assets in U.S. real estate.”

But despite the likelihood of the bill becoming law, the presence of the title insurance provision is the first significant effort by Congress to build on the Treasury Department’s temporary GTO program, and enforce it nationwide.

“If I was a foreign criminal, I would absolutely park my money in U.S. real estate because I can do it anonymously and because it’s a really safe investment,” said Murray, the former Treasury Department official. “[The bill] would make what is only in a few markets, nationwide, and would increase transparency of residential real estate transactions dramatically.”

Broadstone Harbor Beach and Robert Given

Alliance Residential is looking to sell a newly completed luxury apartment development in Fort Lauderdale, which could sell for $160 million to $170 million based on comparable sales, according to broker Robert Given.

Alliance completed Broadstone Harbor Beach, a 394-unit waterfront building at 1721 17th Street, in 2017 and just hired Cushman & Wakefield’s Given, Zachary Sackley, Troy Ballard and Neal Victor to list the property.

“Typically we would see large institutional investors wanting to buy the property as well as a high number of high-net-worth individuals or private offices out of New York,” Given said.

He expects the 359,000-square-foot building to be 95 leased within three months. Units, which average 912 square feet, are renting for $2,000 to $3,000 a month. They include studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms. Amenities include a fitness center, boxing and yoga studio, movie theater, pool with cabanas, dog park and massage room.

“It’s very rare to have a new rental building on the Intracoastal or the water in South Florida,” Given said. “Most are condo projects.”

Property records show Alliance Residential and Invesco Real Estate developed the 3.8-acre site. Harbor Beach Investors LLC paid $22.1 million for the property, just off the 17th Street Causeway, in 2015. The site used to house Ocean World, a controversial marine park that closed in 1994 after nearly 30 years of operation.

The property is next to the Broward Convention Center, which is in the midst of a $900 million renovation and expansion that includes adding an 800-room hotel and another 350,000 square feet of meeting space. A handful of hotels nearby recently sold, including the $170.6 million sale of the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina to Brookfield Asset Management.

Alliance and Invesco financed construction of the Broadstone building with a $66.5 million loan from Wells Fargo. Alliance has completed six residential projects in South Florida totaling 2,214 units, with another 526 units that are under construction, according to a release.

Plantation Walk rendering and developer Art Falcone

Art Falcone’s Encore Capital Management just scored $33.9 million in construction financing for an seven-story office building at its $350 million mixed-use Plantation Walk project.

Chicago-based Prime Finance Partners is the lender. Walker and Dunlop Inc. helped arrange the financing.

The 160,000-square-foot building has already signed on health insurance firm Aetna, and will be the first building to be completed as part of planned development at 321 North University Drive.

Aetna plans to move into an 85,000-square-foot office space in December. The office building will be home to Aetna’s Medicare, Medicaid and Aetna International divisions.

Smaller units at the project range from 3,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet. Jay Adams of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank is handling leasing the project.

Once complete, Plantation Walk will feature more than 200,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space and three apartment buildings consisting of a total of 700 luxury rental units and ground-floor retail. The apartments will be geared toward the region’s millennial workforce, according to a press release.

A spokesperson said the developer plans to break ground on the apartment buildings soon. Construction of the office building is underway and is expected to be completed in December.

The 32-acre complex, just north of Broward Boulevard, was the site of the former Plantation Fashion Mall.

From left: Barbara Underwood and Adam Neumann (Credit: Twitter and Getty Images)

The New York Attorney General’s office has reached a settlement with WeWork over non-compete agreements which the company had required almost all its employees to sign.

The overly broad agreements barred employees from working for competitors after leaving WeWork regardless of their salaries, responsibilities and knowledge of confidential information, according to Attorney General Barbara Underwood. Her office’s investigation of the company found that it had made employees at almost all locations across the country sign one of these agreements as a condition of employment.

The settlement, which was first reported by NPR, will release 800 WeWork employees in New York from their non-compete agreements. WeWork will also adopt this policy nationwide, which will release more than 600 additional employees from the agreements. The state’s AG office worked with Illinois’ Attorney General, which had also been investigating WeWork’s non-compete agreements, to coordinate a resolution.

Additionally, roughly 1,800 employees — about 1,400 in New York — will now be bound by less restrictive non-compete agreements. Their non-compete period will drop from one year to six months after they stop working at WeWork, and the geographic restriction will drop from any place where the company operates to a 15-mile radius of WeWork branches that practice the type of work the employee did. Employees will also now only be barred from specific business lines in which they worked.

WeWork must notify all current and former employees who left within the past year about these changes and send the Attorney General’s office semiannual reports for the next two years about changes to or uses of its non-compete agreements.

Although New York allows non-compete clauses, they cannot be broader than necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests.

WeWork released a statement saying they had been working with the New York attorney general for the past two years to review the company’s non-compete agreements and was already revising them.

Underwood described the settlement in a statement as “a key step forward for WeWork’s thousands of employees in New York and across the country.”

Underwood’s office announced the settlement around noon on Tuesday, just three hours after WeWork announced it had become the largest office tenant in Manhattan with 5.3 million square feet of space. The company has 60 total locations in New York City, 50 of which are in Manhattan.

WeWork has signed multiple new leases in recent months, including 18,200 square feet at 231 11th Avenue and 25,000 square feet at 609 Greenwich Street. The company said its 258,344-square-foot lease at 21 Penn Plaza is what pushed it into the top spot.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James won the Democratic primary for New York attorney general on Thursday. She will face Republican Keith Wofford in the November general election to replace Underwood, who took over the position from Eric Schneiderman in May.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Steel and other metal products are among the goods included in President Trump’s latest round of tariffs against Chinese imports, and come months after a similar tax on imported metals.

The trade war between the U.S. and China intensified Tuesday, as the Chinese government announced $60 billion in tariffs on American goods in response, according to Bloomberg.

On Monday, the president announced he would impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods. The import tax will take effect Sept. 24, and is expected to jump to 25 percent on Jan. 1. Steel is usually priced in anticipation of future supply, which means prices could increase before the January hike.

The Chinese government’s retaliatory measures include a 5 percent tax on 1,600 products, such as computers and textiles; along with a 10 percent tax on 3,500 products including meat, liquid natural gas and wine.

The U.S. already imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel goods from nearly all foreign countries earlier this year. The U.S. only imports around 3 percent of its steel from China, but those larger tariffs have had a noticeable effect on overall U.S. steel imports. In June, imports dropped by 10.2 percent, according to Forbes.

Domestic steel prices were at a seven-year high as of July, good news for the steel producers, but more troubling for buyers. Besides builders, who rely on the material for construction, manufacturers of heavy equipment need steel to build their products. Those higher costs will trickle down.

Canada is the United States’ largest steel trading partner, and has been hit particularly hard by the 25 percent tariffs on the alloy.

The two countries are in talks to resolve the tariffs, possibly with an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which includes Mexico. [Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch

Shalimar Motel

The Shalimar Motel on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami’s MiMo District will get a facelift after selling for $6.3 million.

Sandip Patel, a hotel investor from Alabama who recently moved to Miami, just bought the 49-room motel at 6200 Biscayne Boulevard, said Ahmed Kabani of Marcus & Millichap, who represented Patel. Robert Bhat of Marcus & Millichap arranged a $4.1 million loan from U.S. Century Bank to finance the acquisition. The deal breaks down to about $129,000 per room.

Patel bought the property through entities Jai Siyaram, LLC and Jai Sainath, LLC. The seller is Bhy-E Gluck LLC, led by Tikva Gluck of New York City. She and her husband Oscar bought the motel in 2011 out of foreclosure. Oscar Gluck signed a quit claim deed in 2012.

Patel, who currently owns two hotels in Alabama, said he plans to spend about $300,000 to renovate the motel, including bringing in new furniture and bedding. Kabani said Patel will aim to increase the property’s revenue.

The Shalimar was built in 1951 and includes 2,500 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. Patel said he plans to bring in a restaurant, but has not yet begun talks with potential tenants.

The MiMo District continues to undergo redevelopment. Last week, a partnership between Avra Jain and Dragonfly Investments paid $6 million for the Motel Blu at 7700 Biscayne Boulevard. The deal broke down to about $100,000 per room. The partners plan to restore and renovate the motel, built in 1957. Jain also previously renovated the Vagabond Motel at 7301 Biscayne Boulevard, which was built in 1953.

Earlier this year, 13th Floor Investments and Tricera Capital unveiled their plans for Paseo Miami, a mixed-use apartment building featuring 294 units, 27,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and more than 500 parking spaces, at 5700 Biscayne Boulevard.

bridgecollapse.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the contractors involved in the Florida International University bridge that collapsed earlier this year, killing six people.

OSHA fined Figg Bridge Engineers, Munilla Construction Management, Bolton Perez & Associates, Structural Technologies in Homestead and the Structural Group of South Florida $86,658 for seven worker-safety violations, according to the Miami Herald.

A 950-ton portion of the pedestrian bridge at Southwest 109th Avenue and Southwest Eighth Street collapsed on March 15. The $14.2 million bridge was intended to create a safer passageway for students crossing Eighth Street’s seven lanes of traffic, and was part of a $124 million expansion of the campus.

The companies cited by OSHA have 15 business days to accept or contest the citations, or schedule a conference with the federal agency, according to the Herald. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the collapse. [Miami Herald] –Katherine Kallergis

West Palm Beach Golf Course and Topgolf

The developer tapped to lead the $86 million renovation and redevelopment of a city-owned golf course in West Palm Beach is being sued by its own lawyer.

Perry & Taylor P.A. filed suit this month in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against WPB Golf Links, doing building as American Links, alleging the company failed to pay more than $185,000 in legal bills, according to the Palm Beach Post.

American Links’ project included refurbishing the city’s 196-acre golf course at 7001 Parker Avenue, bringing a Topgolf facility along with apartments and a possible hotel component on the southwestern corner of the course.

The development firm is led by E. Anthony Wilson and Raymon R. Finch III, who are tied to Seagate Realty Group.

The legal bills allegedly date to back to September 2016. So far, the law firm claims it’s only received a $10,000 check, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Wilson said the dispute is “typical” and will not affect the project. “As usual these things take a lot of time,” he told the newspaper. “I don’t foresee any obstacles in the way of this project. We look forward to starting on it as soon as possible.”

Mike Burman, who filed the complaint on behalf of Perry & Taylor, said it is “not typical between a client and a lawyer for the client not to pay the lawyer at all for his work.” [Palm Beach Post] – Amanda Rabines

It’s almost showtime! Robert Reffkin has just joined the heavy-hitting cast of The Real Deal’s national brokerage panel at this year’s fast-approaching South Florida Real Estate Showcase & Forum.

The Compass CEO will join Douglas Elliman’s Howard M. Lorber, Corcoran’s Pam Liebman, The Agency’s Mauricio Umansky and Sotheby’s International’s Julie Leonhardt LaTorre for a first-of-its-kind roundtable discussion between the top brokerage heads across the U. S. on Oct. 25 at Mana Wynwood.

GET TICKETS

The execs will dig into the growth strategies, revenue models and recruitment plans of their brands and take questions from the audience in our “Business of brokerage” panel at 11:30 a.m. See the full day’s agenda here.

For information on sponsorship options, please email forum@TheRealDeal.com.

Flooding from Hurricane Florence is seen in Leland, North Carolina, which is located just outside of Wilmington, North Carolina (Credit: Getty Images) 

Low apartment inventories might make relocating residents displaced by Hurricane Florence particularly difficult in small cities in North Carolina.

The hurricane pummeled some of North Carolina’s smaller cities, where single-family homes make up much of the rental inventory, the Wall Street Journal reported. For example, Wilmington and Fayetteville each have fewer than 1,500 empty apartment units, according to apartment research firm RealPage Inc.

That’s less than half of the vacant units in Charleston, South Carolina. After Hurricane Harvey, 70,000 units were available in Houston, Texas.

“A lot of the cities that were flooded are smaller and less dense,” Ric Campo, chairman and chief executive of Houston-based Camden Property Trust, told the Wall Street Journal. “They just don’t have the apartment inventory.”

Rents jumped in Houston after Hurricane Harvey while the vacancy rate declined. In Wilmington, the vacancy rate is at 6.6 percent with an annual rent growth of 2.3 percent. Florence is expected to drive the vacancy rate down.

According to Bloomberg, the Category 1 hurricane has caused an estimated $2.5 billion in insured losses in North Carolina. The storm has killed at least 32 people. [WSJ and Bloomberg] — Kathryn Brenzel

David Fite and Ryan, Bill and Chris Raveis

The Fite Group of Palm Beach is merging with William Raveis Real Estate.

David and Nadine Fite will continue leading the Palm Beach firm’s four offices and 100 agents. The deal gives William Raveis a foothold in the high-end markets of Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and Wellington. The brokerage is based in the Northeast with more than 130 offices and 4,000 agents, and in recent years it expanded to Naples with six branches, said Chairman and CEO Bill Raveis.

The Fite Group will take the William Raveis name, and roll out the new brand over the next six months, David Fite said. The Palm Beach firm previously had an affiliation with New York-based Town Residential that began in June 2017 and ended after Town shut down earlier this year.

Consolidation in the brokerage industry is rampant as overhead costs and commission payouts keep rising – a tougher business model for small to medium-sized firms. In South Florida, the Keyes Company has acquired a number of smaller firms from Miami-Dade up through the Treasure Coast.

Fite and Raveis hope to capitalize on each other’s markets, especially as more wealthy Northeastern residents from markets like Greenwich, Westchester and Manhattan consider moving to South Florida thanks to changes in tax legislation. “We are looking to the movement of our customers in the Northeast,” Raveis said.

Eighty-five percent of new residents in Palm Beach County are coming from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Fite said.

The Fite Group has completed more than $5 billion in sales since it was founded about 10 years ago. It’s headquartered in Palm Beach and has offices in Delray, Wellington and Palm Beach Gardens.

William Raveis completed $10.2 billion in sales last year, according to a release.

Raveis and Fite declined to comment on terms of the merger.

4736 North Bay Road

A North Bay Road waterfront home that once hosted fashion icons Emilio Pucci, Gloria Vanderbilt and Mary McFadden just sold for $10 million.

The trust of the late Sir Edward Porter sold a 8,473-square-foot home at 4736 North Bay Road in Miami Beach to Hamptons real estate developer Niklas de la Motte.

The Miami Beach home was owned by Porter and his wife Lady Anna Lee Porter, who co-founded the Miami International Fine Arts College on Bayshore Drive, which is now known as Miami International University of Art and Design, according to the Miami Herald. Emilio Pucci, Gloria Vanderbilt and Mary McFadden were regular guests at the of the Porters, the Herald reported. Edward Porter passed away in March 2017 at age 96.

De la Motte, who is the co-founder of a development company focusing on high-end homes in the Hamptons, bought the 25,410-square-foot property for $394 per square foot.

The nine-bedroom, 11-and-three-and-a-half bathroom house was originally built in 1924. The home was listed for $12.9 million in December 2017. The buyer and the seller were represented by Dora Puig of Luxe Living Realty.

De la Motte runs de la Motte | Schult and was raised between Paris and London and graduated from Harvard University. He previously owned and ran a hedge fund in Manhattan, according to Hamptonsrealestate.com.

North Bay Road is home to a number of celebrities and prominent real estate figures including Michael Stern, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Phil Collins and Barry Sternlicht.

Condo sales in Miami-Dade remained steady last week, with the majority of the top 10 deals taking place in Miami Beach’s South-of-Fifth neighborhood.

The county recorded 114 closings for a total of $41.9 million, just slightly down from last week’s total $43.9 million in sales across 101 closings.

Condos last week sold for an average price of about $367,835 or about $295 per square foot.

The priciest deal was at Portofino Tower in Miami Beach. Unit 803 sold for $2.3 million, or $983 per square foot. Tatiana Lahmann had the listing. Tracy Galya represented the buyer of the three-bedroom, 2,340-square-foot unit.

The second most expensive condo sale was also in Miami Beach. Unit 4E at Three Hundred Collins traded hands for $2.02 million, or about $1,103 per square foot, after being on the market for 147 days. Dina Goldentayer and Joseph Schafer had the listing and brought the buyer.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 sales from Sept. 9 to Sept. 15. Click on the map for more information:

Most expensive
Portofino Tower | #803 | 97 days on market | $2.3M | $983 psf | Listing agent: Tatiana Lahmann | Buyer’s agent: Tracy Galya

Least expensive
Yacht Club | #FL-4 | 61 days on market | $803.5K | $658 psf | Listing agent: Allan Kleer | Buyer’s agent: Jasmin Schumer

Most days on market
Giralda Place Residences | #6C |820 days on market | $1.6M | $637 psf | Listing agent: Christopher Zoller | Buyer’s agent: Christopher Zoller

Fewest days on market
Yacht Club | #FL-4 | 61 days on market | $803.5K | $658 psf | Listing agent: Allan Kleer | Buyer’s agent: Jasmin Schumer

Photos of the five apartment complexes

Large out-of-state investors are continuing to see value in South Florida’s multifamily market.

In August, a number of institutional investors bought apartments at a significant markup from their previous price.The largest sale of the month was the $71.3 million deal of The Latitudes at the Moors, an apartment complex that TIAA purchased near Hialeah. Many of the top deals are for properties outside of the urban core, such as Lake Worth in Palm Beach County.

The August investment sales figures were compiled from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County property records.

The Latitudes at the Moors – TIAA | $71.3 million

Nuveen Investments, which serves as the investment management arm of TIAA bought the 358-unit Latitudes at the Moors at 6200 Northwest 173rd Street for about $200,000 per unit.

Nuveen Investments financed the deal with a $31 million loan from Principal Life Insurance Company.

The seller, SDC Latitudes at the Moors, is tied to RREEF Property Trust. Records show it paid $22.15 million for the 12-acre property in 2000. The company is an arm of Chicago-based DWS Group, previously known as Deutsche Asset Management.

The complex was built in 1989 and offers lake views, and residents are given access to the adjacent Moors Club Center, which features tennis courts, playgrounds, several pools, a fitness facility and a lakefront fishing pier.

Vista Verde at Westchester – The Rilea Group | $59.75 million

The Rilea Group sold an apartment complex near Florida International University to Advenir for $59.75 million.

Vista Verde at Westchester, a 302-unit complex at 10491 Southwest 14th Terrace, just east of the university, sold for about $198,000 per apartment. Cushman & Wakefield’s Robert Given, Troy Ballard, Zachary Sackley and James Quinn represented Rilea, according to a release.

Advenir financed the deal with a $44.32 million loan from Freddie Mac. Berkadia’s Charles Foschini, Christopher Apone and Lourdes Carranza-Alvarez arranged the 11-year, fixed-rate loan with six years of interest.

The property was built in 1993 and is being marketed as a value-add complex. About 20 percent of the units have been updated, Cushman said. Rilea, which focuses on value-add commercial properties in South Florida, paid $2.2 million for the site in 1988, according to property records.

Aqua Isles Apartments – Mill Creek Residential | $37.2 million

Mill Creek Residential paid $37.2 million for a 127-unit apartment complex in Dania Beach.

The Dallas-based company bought the complex, known as the Aqua Isles Apartments at 4791 Southwest 39th Way for $29,330 per unit. Mill Creek purchased the property from Principal Real Estate Investments, a subsidiary of the Des Moines, Iowa-based insurance company Principal Financial Group. Roberto Pesant, Chris Conklin, and Omar Morales of Walker & Dunlop Investment Sales represented Principal Real Estate Investors in the sale.

Mill Creek financed the acquisition with a $24.4 million mortgage from MetLife Real Estate Lending.

The 155,6860-square-foot apartment building was constructed in 2012. Principal Real Estate Investments originally purchased the newly built complex in 2012 for $28.5 million from Aqua Isles by Carr Residential, a company affiliated with veteran developer James Carr.

Oakwood Apartments – Naya USA Investment & Management | $25.6 million

Naya USA Investment & Management sold an apartment complex in Lake Worth for twice what it paid for the property four years ago.

The Hollywood-based company sold the 160-unit, 200,000-square-foot development at 2425 Second North Avenue for $25.6 million, about two times the $12.9 million that Naya paid for the property in 2014. One Real Estate Investment, led by Jeronimo Hirschfeld, bought the complex, known as Oakwood Apartments.

One Real Estate paid about $160,000 per unit. The development, built in 1993, is near Palm Beach College. It’s 96 percent occupied, Hirschfeld, chairman and CEO, said. The apartments are all four-bedrooms and each rent for about $1,500.

Tal Frydman, Yoav Yuhjtman, Nicholas Perrone of Berkadia represented the seller, according to a press release. Berkadia’s Brad Williamson and Jared Hill also arranged a $19.23 million seven-year, fixed-rate loan for the buyer to finance the deal.

Royal Oaks – Preston Giuliano Capital Partners | $22.8 million

Alex Rodriguez’s business partner sold a townhome complex in Hollywood for $22.8 million, or about $330,000 per unit.

Property records show Royal Oaks United, owned by Stuart Zook, sold the 69-unit Royal Oaks apartment complex at 3200 Stirling Road to Preston Giuliano Capital Partners, a multifamily investment firm.

Monument Real Estate Services, owned by the former New York Yankees player, managed the property, a spokesperson said. Zook is a principal at Monument Capital Management, also owned by Rodriguez.

Calum Weaver of Cushman & Wakefield represented the seller.

The buyer financed the deal with an $11.75 million mortgage from the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, also known as Aflac.

Royal Oaks United purchased the 5-acre property in 2015 for $19 million from the New York-based Chetrit family. Chetrit paid $4 million for the land in 2004 and completed the complex in 2008. The townhouses rent for nearly $2,500 a month.

Entera founder Martin Kay and single family homes (Credit: LinkedIn and iStock)

The next big arms race in institutional residential investing may just involve artificial intelligence.

A handful of companies are developing ­big data technologies to help institutional investors find the homes they want and buy them in bulk, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That’s allowed their customers, like hedge funds and private equity investors, to scoop up more homes faster than ever before.

Firms including Entera Technology, Progress Residential and Amherst Residential each feed thousands of data points into their algorithms to find suitable investments for their institutional clients. That includes listing information like age of the property, the number of rooms and square footage.

Institutional investment in single-family real estate in particular spiked in the wake of the economic crash, which has made the market more competitive. Algorithms could help investors find yield where they may not have looked before.

Entera processes more sophisticated data like a home’s orientation and location of its kitchen, and the amount of light it receives during the day. The company’s computers can also scan listing photos to find images of a sunny kitchen based on similar photos they have fed into the machines.

It also scans data to see if a yoga studio or Starbucks — which could indicate a gentrifying neighborhood — has opened nearby recently.

Amherst’s technology can also project the cost of potential renovation work — based on jobs on similar properties — giving the investor a look ahead, according to the Journal. [Wall Street Journal] — Dennis Lynch 

Bungalo COO Greg Stewart (green), Amherst Residential president Drew Flahive (blue), and the Bungalo website (Credit: Bungalo and Twitter)

The days of buying a house — entirely online — have arrived.

Bungalo, a startup with $225 million in financial backing, has launched a solely digital platform where buyers can search, finance and purchase newly renovated homes.

The company, which officially launches Tuesday, is an offshoot of Austin-based Amherst Holdings, a $13 billion financial firm that in 2012 created Amherst Residential, which owns and manages 20,000 single-family rentals nationwide.

Amherst said it invested $225 million to launch Bungalo — which joins a burgeoning group of iBuying platforms that includes Opendoor, Zillow and Redfin. All three buy and sell homes directly to consumers after fixing up the houses in varying degrees.

In Bungalo’s case, the company will renovate each home it sells from top to bottom. It also offers “no-haggle” pricing — meaning it sets the price and accepts the first offer it receives.

“Residential real estate has lagged behind in on-demand services,” said Greg Stewart, the company’s chief operating officer.

Bungalo will start by selling 25 homes in Dallas-Forth Worth and 10 in Tampa, Florida, he said, before expanding to new markets later in the year.

Although transactions can be done entirely online, Bungalo also has a sales team of licensed agents who work with clients who prefer a high-touch approach. (For clients with buy-side agents, the company will pay a full commission.)

Bungalo’s website

Drew Flahive, president of Amherst Residential, said a “very large chunk” of the company’s initial investment in Bungalo will be spent on real estate and the services around repairing the property to move-in ready condition, he said. Other capital will go towards technology, infrastructure and staff.

Flahive said Amherst is committed to investing an additional $1 billion in Bungalo next year.

“This is a huge commitment that Amherst Residential and Amherst Holdings has made to the business,” Flahive said. “And it’s one that we’re able to be very patient with because it’s our own capital we’re investing in Bungalo.”

Each Bungalo home has to meet a 160-point quality standard, and all homes come with a one-year, third-party warranty. Buyers can also choose to get financing from Bungalo Mortgage, an affiliated underwriter which is also part of the new venture.

According to Stewart, homes will be priced around $250,000 to $550,000 after a full renovation.

“There’s a lack of high-quality inventory,” he said said. “From our research, buyers are looking for turn-key. We’re trying to get them as close to a new build as possible.”

Compass #compasscomingsoon listings (Credit: Compass, Instagram, and iStock)

In a world where movie trailers can still lure film goers into theaters, residential brokerage Compass wants to deploy that kind of sneak-peak marketing to sell homes.

The New York brokerage has launched a feature that allows its agents to post their listings to Compass’ website days before sharing them with local multiple-listing systems and portals like Zillow, StreetEasy and Realtor.com.

“Compass Coming Soon,” as it is called, launched last week nationwide except in New York and Washington, D.C., where it will roll out in the coming days.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin said the new strategy “will help our agents get a head start on marketing while still getting the property ready for market,” according to an email he sent agents last week, which the The Real Deal obtained. “By harnessing the power of pre-marketing, [the listing] actually shows up twice in everyone’s alerts: once when it hits Compass.com, and again when it hits the open market, doubling potential exposure.”

But critics of “coming soon” listings argue that — like whisper listings and pocket listings — they create an unfair advantage. They reward agents with direct deals and limit exposure to listings by not putting them on the open market.

Compass, which has aggressively been grabbing market share nationwide, may encounter a strong pushback with this latest move.

And it may start with The Real Estate Board of New York, whose universal co-brokerage agreement governs how listings are shared.

The agreement requires members who post listings publicly to share them simultaneously with other brokers and websites. “Public dissemination includes, but is not limited to, the display of the exclusive listing on the exclusive broker’s website, any exclusive agent’s public website, any social media application… [and] any third-party website,” the rule states.

“How would their agents feel if Corcoran or Elliman did that?” said one New York brokerage chief.

REBNY declined to comment on Compass specifically, but sources said it would vigorously defend the co-brokerage rules.

In his email letter, Reffkin said the idea for “Compass Coming Soon” came from agents who were informally announcing their listings on social media. But by validating the practice, Compass is also arming agents with a way to control their listings (and data) at a time when online portals are the first place buyers look for a new home.

The move comes on the heels of Compass’ acquisition last month of San Francisco-based Pacific Union International, which had recently launched a portal for showcasing listings before they hit the open market.

That offering, “Private View,” went live in May with $400 million worth of exclusives. “I think there’s a growing opportunity for brokerages to become more and more relevant,” Nick Segal, then president of Pacific Union in Southern California, said at the time.

For years, Zillow and Redfin have let agents promote future listings on their platforms. For its part, Zillow restricts “coming soon” posts to listings that will go live within 30 days, while Redfin allows those posts to publish within 21 days.

In June, Segal said Compass had been looking for its “own answer to what Zillow was doing.” But he saw a potential competitive advantage: While Zillow takes all the listing information as soon as it goes live, the company can’t “take advantage of the information before it goes live.”

On Compass’ website, landing pages with “coming soon” listings encourage visitors to the site to “discover local Compass properties that are not listed on the market.” In the Hamptons, for example, Compass listed 20 such properties, including a 9,500-square-foot home on Georgica Close Road in East Hampton, asking $7.35 million; and three-quarters of an acre of land in Montauk, asking $645,000.

Leonard Steinberg, who was president of the firm until he moved into the role of “Chief Evangelist” in July, said the firm’s legal team is looking carefully to make sure no rules are broken. That includes in New York or elsewhere, where local MLS rules dictate how listings may be shared. He said any “coming soon” listing would immediately be open to co-broking.

Still, in New York that quiet marketing — and an uptick in off-market deals — has divided brokers.

Whisper then a roar

In March, REBNY’s residential board proposed a ban on whisper listings, eliciting blowback from the city’s largest firms. They argued that some sellers have legitimate reasons for keeping properties off the open market.

As of early September, REBNY hadn’t come to a final conclusion on the issue.

Meanwhile, a former Keller Williams agent launched RealAgenz.com, a portal that charges brokers a monthly fee to access whisper listings.

Nationwide, similar portals have popped up in recent years. In Los Angeles — where off-market deals are the bread-and-butter of celebrity real estate — the Agency’s CEO Mauricio Umansky and agent Christopher Dyson rolled out “The Pocket Listing Service” last year, which allows brokers to share and search off-market deals.

Beth Styne, vice president Coldwell Banker’s COO for Greater Los Angeles, said she is against pocket listing services. “Their actual intent,” she said, “is to control inventory and steal clients.”

She criticized Pacific Union, which she said created “Private View” because “they are trying to create a value proposition where there is none.”

Steinberg distinguished between “coming soons” and whisper listings — which he tries to avoid. “I don’t like pocket listings because I think they’re exclusionary. These are as inclusionary as you can get,” he said. “I’m happy to show this listing at any time.”

But others were more dubious of Compass’ motives.

“They’re creating an island for themselves that doesn’t serve their clients’ best interests. It serves Compass’ best interests,” said Bess Freedman, co-president of Brown Harris Stevens.

If “coming soon” listings don’t violate REBNY rules, she said, they certainly go against the spirit of the co-brokerage rules. “We share our listings with each other. We promote working together,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to be received well by the brokerage community.”

Sheridan Village apartment complex in Pembroke Pines and Bell Partners’ CEO Jon D. Bell

Multifamily investment firm Bell Partners just picked up the Sheridan Village apartment complex in Pembroke Pines for $91.8 million, property records show.

The deal for the 300-unit rental community at 16700 Sheridan Street breaks down to $306,000 per apartment. Records show AVR Realty Company is the seller.

AVR bought the complex in 2014 for $78 million. It was completed in 2014 by Boca Raton-based developer Altman Companies, and includes one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Records show AVR also transferred $45.6 million in Fannie Mae financing from Wells Fargo Bank to Greensboro, North Carolina-based Bell Partners. In addition, Bell Partners secured $10.2 million in financing from Wells Fargo, bringing its total debt to about $55.8 million.

The previous sale in 2015 is not reflected in property records because Altman transferred management of the complex from itself to AVR, instead of filing a deed.

Sheridan Village features private balconies and granite counters. Amenities include a swimming pool, fitness center and game room with billiards tables.

Broward’s multifamily market is strong as demand outpaces supply. There were 1,343 more units absorbed than delivered in Broward, according to a second quarter report by Cushman & Wakefield. Vacancies in the county decreased to 5.3 percent from 6.5 percent, year-to-date.

Nearby, Art Falcone’s $350 million redevelopment of the former Plantation Fashion Mall is underway at 321 North University Drive. Once complete the project will feature 700 luxury rental apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail.

Last year, AVR sold a 700-unit rental complex called Montage at City Center in Pembroke Pines for $158.5 million to an affiliate of Harbor Group International.

Rendering of the Continental on Collins, a Hampton Inn & Suites

The owners of the Hampton Inn at the Continental on Collins just scored a $41.9 million loan and will start building a new retail and parking component, records show.

Sukkah Miami Beach Acquisitions LLC, a holding company owned by Boca Raton-based investment firms Pebb Capital and Duncan Hillsley Capital, received the loan for the hotel at 4000 Collins Avenue from IberiaBank.

Part of the loan will be used to refinance the existing hotel, which is now being renovated. The owners will then use the rest of the loan to construct a new 30,000-square-foot addition, which will be built on a vacant lot on the north side of the hotel.

Shane Hillsley, a managing principal of a Pebb Capital affiliated entity RoseHill Group, said construction should begin on the retail and parking component in the next couple of days. He projects the building will be completed in the third quarter of 2019.

The Real Deal previously reported that the property owners hired CBRE’s Paul Weimer, Christian Charre and Natalie Castillo to list the 100-room hotel. Hillsley now says the project is no longer for sale and Sukkah Miami Beach Acquisitions is planning to retain ownership of the hotel and run it.

Pebb and Duncan Hillsley paid more than $23 million to buy out the owners of the Continental’s 102 rooms and 18 commercial units in 2015, and unveiled plans to convert the condo-hotel into a Hampton Inn the following year.

The renovated building includes a rooftop deck and retail on the ground floor, where Piola signed a lease for about 1,800 square feet. Hillsley said the renovated hotel is expected to be open in January.

Pebb Capital was founded by the Rosenberg family, and the firm is closely related to Pebb Enterprises. Pebb Capital partnered with Duncan Hillsley to buy the retail component of Downtown Dadeland in 2014.

Och Ziff CEO Robert Shafir and the Solow Building at 9 West 57th Street (Credit: Och-Ziff Capital Management Group and Wikipedia)

Billionaire Dan Och’s hedge fund is looking to raise a $2 billion real estate fund, its largest investment vehicle targeting real estate yet.

Och-Ziff Capital Management Group is seeking a $2 billion raise for its fourth fund targeting opportunistic investments as soon as the end of this year, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Real estate has been a relative bright spot for Och-Ziff, which is trying to regain confidence from investors after the company settled a bribery investigation with regulators in 2016.

“In the foreseeable future, we think we’re extremely good in credit and in real estate,” company CEO Robert Shafir said on a conference call with investors last month. “What you will see is extensions that are logical adjacencies to those core businesses.”

Och-Ziff’s two most recent real estate funds generated net internal rates of return of 23.5 percent and 21.8 percent from the time they started through June 30, regulatory filings show.

The company, which is headquartered in New York City at the Solow Building, is also looking to raise a $750 million real estate debt fund and $150 million for an affordable-housing investment vehicle.

Private equity companies are still looking to raise record amounts of capital, even as spending is seeing its sharpest decline in years.

Blackstone Group is looking to raise an $18 billion fund, its largest fund to date. [Bloomberg] – Rich Bockmann

 

Hurricane Florence continues to slam the Carolinas with record-breaking rainfall and, with flooding now expected to reach Charlotte, NC, analysts are beginning to consider the after-effects of such a devastating, unusual storm.

Realtor.com’s chief economist Danielle Hale said damage from the hurricane was “likely to disrupt national home sales and construction for months to come.” She expects rainfall and subsequent flooding to cause damage even to properties outside the path of the storm leading to “a dampening of national housing trends.”

Hale elaborated that she projected there would be “a drop-off in demand… post hurricane as would-be buyers re-evaluate whether to live in these areas.”

Meanwhile, insurers are also watching Florence nervously, according to the Wall Street Journal. Analysts at Jefferies believe more homes in the hurricane’s path are insured, which means damages that exceed what modeling predicted could cause an outflow of investment in insurance markets and, in turn, a rise in prices for flood insurance. The colossal damages from 2017’s three hurricanes did not cause any such fallout as most homes affected were not insured.

In the days after Hurricane Harvey, investors poured into Houston looking to snap up flooded, damaged homes for resale, and Hale anticipates a similar occurrence when Florence finally dies out, but she believes investors will be more restrained this time.

“I expect there to be an uptick in investor activity in the Carolinas, but I do not expect it to be quite as large or as immediate as we saw in the Houston area because of the differences between vacation communities and year-round communities,” she told The Real Deal in an email.

She noted that Houston’s available housing inventory was increasing ahead of Harvey, while in the Carolinas supply was tightening before Florence hit. She also noted that seasonal markets for vacation homes, which makes up a chunk of the 38,000 homes in the two states that are both in the storm’s path and currently listed, would be less attractive for investors looking to flip homes on the cheap. “There is likely to be a greater pick-up in investor activity in more year-round areas,” she said.

Wells Fargo CFO John Shrewsberry and a Wells Fargo bank sign (Credit: Yale School of Management and Mike Mozart via Flickr)

Wells Fargo expects its book of commercial real estate loans to shrink as the bank struggles with governance issues.

CFO John Shrewsberry said during a conference Friday that he expects commercial real estate and industrial loans to fall from second-quarter levels, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Shrewsberry pointed to the bank’s deliberate lending discipline and a competitive lending environment with an influx of alternative funding sources as reasons for the decline.

But Wells Fargo is also facing fallout from scandals relating to the bank’s 2016 account-sales controversy. In the second quarter, the bank booked $171 million in costs to compensate consumers who were wrongly charged for currency trades, and the Justice Department is probing whether employees in the bank’s wholesale unit committed fraud by adding information to customer documents without their consent.

Wells Fargo’s total book of outstanding loans shrunk by $3 billion in the second quarter from the previous three-month period. Meanwhile, competitors like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase gave rosy lending forecasts. [WSJ] – Rich Bockmann

Brightline train and Patrick Goddard

The Real Deal is thrilled to announce a program addition to this year’s South Florida Real Estate Showcase & Forum: A one-on-one with Brightline president and COO Patrick Goddard.

Goddard will share exclusive news about the rail line and insight into the impact its growth will have on the South Florida real estate industry.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, Oct. 25 and join us at our new location at Mana Wynwood for a full day of programming, networking and viewing the latest real estate projects and products.

Click here to buy tickets

The event will bring together 5,000 industry insiders and 100 exhibitors for a full-day of market insights, networking opportunities, exposure to the latest real estate developments and products, and food and drink from a host of local merchants.

For information on sponsorship options, please email forum@TheRealDeal.com

Lissette Calderon and River Oaks Tower & Marina (Credit: Maria Galli)

Developer Lissette Calderon closed on the River Oaks Tower & Marina for about $61 million with plans to renovate the waterfront apartment building.

The deal marks Calderon’s return to real estate after leaving the Related Group in 2016, and to the Miami River, where she developed Neo Lofts, Neo Vertika and other buildings dating back 15 years.

Calderon’s firm, Neology Life, closed on the 199-unit, 20-story River Oaks building at 1951 Northwest South River Drive on Thursday. The company financed the deal with a $45.75 million bridge loan from an undisclosed life insurance company. The three-year, floating rate loan features two one-year extension options and interest only during the initial term, according to a press release. Berkadia’s Charles Foschini and Christopher Apone arranged the financing.

In a statement, Calderon, founder and CEO of Neology, said she had been working on the deal for a year with a team that includes Bilzin Sumberg and Akerman.

Property records show AP SC River Oaks LLC, a company led by Saul Campanella and Timothy Richards, sold the building.

The River Oaks building was completed in 2011. It features one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 720 square feet to 1,942 square feet. It also includes a clubhouse, pool, business center and picnic area.

Calderon joined Related in 2014 as president of the firm’s international and strategic projects division – the first woman to hold such a title at Jorge Pérez’s company. She left about two years later, after spearheading Related’s bid for a downtown Miami development site owned by Miami Dade College. The college terminated the contentious bidding process that became marred by litigation from competing developer Gary Nader.

3151 Southwest 27th Avenue and Miguel Pinto

UPDATED, Sept. 18, 1 p.m.: The development site of a planned office project in Coconut Grove just hit the market.

Former LointerHome principal Marco de Souza is looking to sell the 21,000-square-foot development site at 3151 Southwest 27th Avenue for $5.5 million. De Souza and his ex-partner Amanda De Seta planned to build 27@Lincoln, a five-story, 68,000-square-foot Class A office building with ground floor retail space and an automated 200-space parking garage.

De Souza, now of Weston Capital, is focused on other projects in Portugal and decided to sell the site now that the office market in the Grove is heating up, a spokesperson said. He’s also open to joint venturing with another developer on the site.

The property is listed with Miguel Pinto of Apex Capital Realty. Pinto said the site could also be developed into a 31-unit residential building with ground-floor retail, with units priced between $800,000 and $1 million. The retail space could rent for about $45 per square foot, triple net.

Baywood Hotels sold the three parcels for $4.63 million to Lincoln at 27th LLC in April 2017.

Other new office developments in the Grove include Terra and Mayfair Real Estate Advisors’ Mary Street, which is under construction, and Optimum Development USA’s office building at 3480 Main Highway in Miami.

An earlier version of this story misidentified Marco de Souza as a principal at LointerHome. He is no longer working with the company. 

Rendering of Causeway Village

Taubco’s Causeway Village project is back on track after more than five years in the works.

Nearly two years after the developer secured the OK from a North Miami planning commission, the city’s town council greenlit the same land-use amendment, allowing the mixed-use project to keep moving through the approval process. It’s the first step to include the parcel in a district just west of a zone that allows for mixed-use development.

Once the Causeway Village site is part of the overlay district, the developer could build up to 125 dwelling units per acre, or 516 units, said Joseph Geller, Taubco’s attorney and a partner at Greenspoon Marder.

As proposed, Causeway Village, with 297 luxury apartments and 15,480 square feet of retail, would be built on a 4.13-acre site at 1850 Northeast 123rd Street. Apartment rents would range from about $1,750 to $2,500 a month.

Taubco is targeting millennials looking for luxury apartments, said Laura Tauber, principal at the firm. Amenities at Causeway Village will include nearly an acre of green space with two pools, a club room, spa, fitness center, library, children’s room and a dog-walking area.

The nine-story building will be taller than its neighbors. Residents of Keystone Pointe, an upscale single-family home neighborhood just to the north of Taubo’s nearby Causeway Square development, have objected to it because of the noise and traffic the retail property generates.

Taubco bought the land for Causeway Village in May 2005 for $6 million. It had been the site of a Dodge Dealership.

A rendering of the Residences at Dolphin Citi Center

Rems Group Inc. just unveiled plans for Residences at Dolphin Citi Center, a Doral condo project set to rise between Dolphin Mall and International Mall.

Robert Lechter, a partner at Rems, said the 113-unit, eight-story condo building will allow short- and medium-term rentals with a minimum three-night stay requirement. The project is planned for a nearly 4-acre lot on the southwest corner of 108th Avenue and 17th Street. The developer spent about $6.2 million assembling the site between 2016 and 2017, Lechter said.

Rems Group expects to close on a roughly $30 million construction loan from CenterState Bank within six months, he said. It’s slated to open by the end of 2020.

Residences at Dolphin Citi Center was designed by architect Jenifer Briley and features units from 413-square-foot studios to 1,115-square-foot two-bedrooms. Amenities include a restaurant and outdoor pool, along with common areas and a gym on the second floor. The building will be connected to a three-level parking garage.

The developer began taking reservations about six weeks ago and has reserved about 20 percent of its units, according to Lechter. Prices start at $229,000 for studios and $300,000 for one-bedroom units.

Hallandale Beach-based Rems Group also owns the nearby showroom and warehouse complex called Dolphin Park Commerce Center I II and III.

New development in Doral includes Topgolf USA, which recently opened a three-story entertainment complex equipped with a driving range, restaurant and bar, nearby; CityPlace Doral and Downtown Doral.

President Donald Trump; behind, the Trump Organization’s Turnberry golf property. (Credit: Gage Skidmore, Terry Stewart)

Despite Trump International Golf Links Scotland money troubles, there is significant interest in buying homes the company’s developing adjacent to its Aberdeen course–at least according to their legal team.

“It is rare for a development to attract such interest prior to the submission of a planning application,” Trump’s law firm noted in its filings to Aberdeenshire Council, as reported by Bloomberg. Many homes have been reserved, the lawyers claim, despite the development’s pending plans. The company plans to construct up to 500 homes–if the city approves its proposal, and spend nearly $200 million in the process.

The Aberdeen golf course itself is not making money. According to Bloomberg, it wracked up losses to the tune of 1.4 million pounds ($1.8 million USD), while Trump’s second Scottish course in Turnberry had a shortfall of 17.6 million pounds ($23 million USD). [Bloomberg]Erin Hudson

USCIS West Palm Beach, Pointe 1801, One Spa World HQ, Pointe Broward, 8601 West Sunrise

Plantation’s office market dominated South Florida’s top office investment sales in August.

Three of the five priciest deals were for properties in Plantation. The west Broward city has attracted companies like Magic Leap and Aetna.

The August investment sales figures were compiled from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County property records.

USCIS West Palm Beach – Boyd Watterson | $19M

Boyd Watterson’s $19 million purchase of an office building leased to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Royal Palm Beach topped the August ranking.

South Florida Federal Partners West Palm Beach sold the 38,500-square-foot building at 9300 Belvedere Road for about $500 per foot. The U.S. government uses the building as the West Palm Beach field office for USCIS to process green card and naturalization applications.

The 4.7-acre property last sold in 2007 for $6.6 million, and was developed a year later.

Boyd Watterson focuses on acquiring and managing government-leased real estate and manages more than $2.7 billion in real estate assets, according to its website.

Pointe 1801 – Zaragon | $16.5M

Zaragon picked up a fully leased office building in Plantation for $16.55 million. TA Realty sold Pointe 1801 at 1801 Northwest 66th Avenue sold for about $167 per square foot.

The 99,255-square-foot building last sold in 2007 for $11.8 million.

In October, a subsidiary of Envision Healthcare Corp. inked an 89,140-square-foot lease at the property, which was valued at more than $20 million.

Last year, Pointe 1801 underwent a series of renovations to the lobby, common areas, elevator and parking lot. It was built in 1983.

One Spa World HQ – Midtown Capital Partners | $15M

Midtown Capital Partners bought a Coral Gables office building for $14.75 million, as part of a 12-year sale leaseback with cruise ship spa operator One Spa World.

Steiner Management Services, the parent company of One Spa World, sold the 58,500-square-foot building at 770 South Dixie Highway for about $250 per square foot. The property attracted 13 offers from investors and developers, according to brokers.

Steiner bought the then-vacant building in 2012 for $7.5 million and later renovated the interiors.

The company was acquired by L Catterton in 2015 for roughly $925 million, including the assumption of debt. L Catterton is the result of a merger between Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, Groupe Arnault and Catterton Partners.

Pointe Broward – Balogh Jewelers family | $14M

The Balogh Jewelers family paid $14.25 million for an office building in Plantation.

The buyer, Balogh Family Partnership II, is led by Robert “Bobby” Balogh and his wife Cara – the brother and sister-in-law of the jewelry company’s founder, the late David Balogh. The family has been investing in South Florida real estate. 

TA Realty is the seller. The deal for the 78,000-square-foot office building at 8211 West Broward Boulevard breaks downs to about $180 per square foot. The real estate investment firm paid $13.8 million for the property in 2007. It hit the market as part of a larger portfolio earlier this year.

8601 West Sunrise – Fifteen Group Capital | $12M

Fifteen Group Capital bought an office building leased to AT&T in Plantation for $12 million, with plans to reposition the property.

The 14-acre property at 8601 West Sunrise Boulevard traded hands for about $875,000 per acre. The seller, FT-Florida Property LLC, a Delaware company tied to the Winthrop Realty Liquidating Trust. It purchased the building for $28.2 million in 2004.

The 130,550-square-foot office building is home to an AT&T training center, which has been its only occupant since it was developed in 1985 and has a lease expiring in March 2020.

Port 32 Palm Beach Gardens (Credit: Yelp.com)

Marina owner, operator and developer Port 32 bought a full-service marina with the only dry dock boat storage in Tampa for $21.5 million.

Charleston, South Carolina-based Port 32 bought and plans to renovate Tampa Harbour Marina, a 12.1-acre property with 40 wet boat slips and 600 dry storage slips.

Tampa Harbour Marina property also includes retail and office space and a restaurant.

Port 32 will rename the property Port 32 Tampa.  The company operates marinas under the Port 32 brand in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Gardens and the Tierra Verde Marina Resort in St. Petersburg.

The Tampa marina is near Old Tampa Bay and the 52-acre, mixed-use Westshore Marina District development, designed a collection of restaurants, retail stores and residential units.

The property was listed for sale in June by the Tampa- and Atlanta-based Leisure Property Advisors team at brokerage firm Colliers International.

Andrew Cantor, Matt Putnam, and Dan Grovatt lead the team, which focuses on the sale of marinas, resorts and leisure properties nationwide.

“This sale shows the health of the marina market in Florida, and the demand for waterfront commercial property,” Putnam said in a prepared statement. “This transaction happened fairly quickly from the time we put it on the market.” – Mike Seemuth

Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo Development rendering of proposed convention center in downtown Jacksonville.

Bids to build a new convention center in downtown Jacksonville indicate the municipal cost could be near $1 billion.

Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority received three bids after publishing a request for proposals to build a convention center, hotel and parking garage.

Jacobs Engineering Group proposed a 1.8 million-square-foot complex with a convention center, hotel and garage that it would operate. The city of Jacksonville would repay the construction cost at an annual rate of $48 million.

That would amount to $1.2 billion over the 25-year term of a contract with Jacobs Engineering, which worked on its bid with Westmont Hospitality, the operator of the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel.

Under another bid by Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo Development, the city’s financial obligation would be $936 million under a 30-year lease deal requiring annual payments of $31.2 million.

Rimrock proposed a convention center with 200,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, a 6,000-square-foot kitchen, 1,300 parking spaces and ground-floor retail. Construction could start next year and conclude in 26 months.

A third bidder, Preston Hollow proposed a convention center with a price tag from $450 million to $460 million.

Preston Hollow wants the city to pay $229 million, or about half of the funding for a new convention center, but the firm didn’t specify how the city would raise the money.

Preston Hollow proposed a 400-room hotel atop a convention center with 431,000 square feet of exhibition space, 60,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom and a 22,000-square-foot junior ballroom. [Jacksonville Daily Record] – Mike Seemuth

Stephen Smeke

Commercial real estate finance firm Valencia Realty Capital will move its headquarters to Sarasota from Boston.

“Our presence in Florida puts us closer to a number of key stakeholders and opportunities,” Stephen Smeke, managing director of Valencia, said in a prepared statement.

The firm’s Boston office will remain open while Valencia relocates its headquarters to a new office in Sarasota.

Valencia, which began operations nearly five years ago in Boston, helps real estate investors and developers borrow money to acquire, develop or refinance commercial properties. Three principals run the firm: Smeke, Asian markets director Donald Choi and director of transactions Alex Riccio. – Mike Seemuth

Solis at Winter Park (Credit: HotPads.com)

Los Angeles-based TruAmerica Multifamily continued its apartment-complex shopping spree in Florida with a $79 million acquisition in Orlando.

TruAmerica paid about $132,000 per unit for a 596-unit Orlando apartment complex – its ninth rental property acquisition statewide since early 2017, when the real estate investment firm entered the Florida market.

TruAmerica’s has spent about $500 million to acquire its Florida portfolio, which now totals approximately 3,700 apartments, including more than 2,000 in Orlando.

The latest addition to the portfolio is a Class B property in Orlando called Solis at Winter Park, built in 1986.

The 30-acre property has 29 buildings, each two or three stories tall, with one- and two-bedroom apartments with an average size of 862 square feet.

TruAmerica plans to renovate all of the apartments as leases expire by installing faux wood floors, stone counter tops, new cabinet fronts, and updated lighting and plumbing fixtures.

The firm assumed a Freddie Mac fixed-rate loan in connection with its acquisition of Solis at Winter Park and got a supplemental loan arranged by Walker & Dunlop.

Shelton Granade, Luke Wickham and Justin Basquill of brokerage firm CBRE arranged the sale of Solis at Winter Park on behalf of the seller, Lindemann Multifamily Management, which has a $1 billion portfolio of rental properties. – Mike Seemuth

LakePark at Tradition in Port St. Lucie

Minto Communities USA has a deal to sell the remaining 130 lots for single-family home construction at a residential development in Port St. Lucie.

Minto announced that it expects to close a sale of the lots to Kennedy Homes LLC this month. Minto didn’t disclose terms of the deal.

The developed, single-family detached lots are in LakePark, the next phase of Tradition, a master-planned community in Port St. Lucie.

LakePark at Tradition, expected to open early next year, will have age-restricted houses and villas for adults 55 and older.

Kennedy Homes is planning to build three model houses at LakePark ranging from 1,950 square feet to 2,350 square feet with standard golf cart storage in garages.

This is a return to Tradition for Kennedy Homes, which previously built Heritage Oaks, a 630-home cluster at the master-planned community.

Minto’s ongoing development of LakePark at Tradition includes the final phase of a community called Harbour Collection. Minto released 184 villas in the final phase for sale on Friday.

Prices start in the low $200,000s for the villas, ranging in size from 1,503 square feet to 1,862 square feet. Floorplans have two bathrooms, a two-car garage and two or three bedrooms. – Mike Seemuth

Avison Young is marketing 2.35 million square feet of Sears property in Florida.

Struggling Sears exclusively retained brokerage firm Avison Young to sell five Central Florida properties including three department stores and the largest Sears distribution center in the state.

Avison Young’s Florida Capital Group will market the five properties totaling 2.35 million square feet.

The largest of the properties is the 1.93 million-square-foot Sears Southeast Distribution Center at 655 Southwest 52 Avenue in Ocala.

The smallest is a 126,336-square-foot store at 9409 U.S. Highway 19 in Port Richey.

Avison Young will market a 123,790-square-foot Sears store in Tampa at 7902 Citrus Park Town Center Boulevard and a 10,132-square-foot Sears Auto store in Tampa at 13193 Citrus Park Town Center Boulevard.

The brokerage firm also will market a 152,542-square-foot store at the Volusia Mall at 1700 West International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach.

The Avison Young team marketing the Sears properties includes principal Miami managing director Michael T. Fay, principals John K. Crotty and David Duckworth, senior vice presidents Jay A. Ziv and Ray Hayhurst, and senior associates Joshua Ladle and Brian de la Fé. – Mike Seemuth

Paul Manafort (Credit: Getty Images)

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, is surrendering four properties and money from several bank accounts as a part of a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation in exchange for reduced charges, according to the New York Times. As a part of the deal, he pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy and one charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Prosecutors dropped five other charges that included lobbying violations and money laundering.

He had said repeatedly that he would not cooperate with Mueller but reassessed his situation after his trial last month on separate charges. In that case, he was found guilty on eight counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failure to report a foreign bank account.

During the trial, real estate was found to be one of the main ways Manafort made his deceptions. One such instance involved his Trump Tower condo, which he claimed as his primary residence. One of his associates, however, testified that Manafort was actually renting out the property.

Documents from the trial showed that Manafort said he had real estate interests worth $216 million. Most of those properties he co-owned with Jeffrey Yohai, his former son-in-law, through Baylor Holdings, LLC. Yohai, for his part, is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings over four California properties owned by Baylor. He’s also being sued in New York for allegedly running a ponzi scheme.

The prosecution also claimed Manafort made bogus financial representations in order to obtain loans from banks. That included mortgages on the Trump Tower condo, as well as a townhome at 377 Union Street in Brooklyn and a condo at 29 Howard Street in Manhattan.

Manafort’s second trial on separate but related charges stemming from political consulting work he did in Ukraine was supposed to start next week.

The Real Deal interviewed Manafort’s real estate fixer Brad Zackson last summer, who said that the world was attacking his friend “for no reason.”  [NYT] – Eddie Small

In Topeka, Kansas, the salary required with a 10 percent down payment is $31,515. (Credit: iStock)

If you follow the golden rule of real estate–location, location, location–home ownership can be done with a low-five figure income.

The National Association of Realtors’ second quarter survey of national data found that an annual paycheck of $40,000 (or less) was sufficient to qualify to buy a home in 15 cities, according to CNBC. NAR’s index depends on a mortgage rate of 4.7 percent and monthly payments capped at 25 percent of the buyer’s income.

The ranking comes as less Americans are buying homes while the cost is rising fastest at the lowest price-points. Last year, the median age of a homebuyer was 45–a 30-year high.

That said, a recent PropertyShark survey of respondents from Gen Z–roughly between the ages of 18 and 23 currently–found that the younger generation on the heels of millennials expects to buy a house within the next five years. Here’s where they could do it without breaking bank. [CNBC]Erin Hudson

1. Abilene, Texas

Abilene. (Credit: Flofor15/Wikimedia Commons)

Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $37,827
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $33,624
Median home price: $167,200

2. Bloomington, Illinois
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $35,723
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $31,754
Median home price: $157,900

3. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo.

Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $33,732
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $29,984
Median home price: $149,100

4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $36,922
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $32,820
Median home price: $163,200

5. Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia. (Credit: Tim Kiser)

Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $32,035
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $28,476
Median home price: $141,600

6. Cleveland, Ohio
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $34,660
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $30,809
Median home price: $153,200

7. El Paso, Texas

Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas.

Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $35,271
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $31,352
Median home price: $155,900

8. Erie, Pennsylvania
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $27,533
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $24,474
Median home price: $121,700

9. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne. (Credit: Momoneymoproblemz)

Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $32,805
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $29,160
Median home price: $145,000

10. Lexington, Kentucky
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $39,524
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $35,132
Median home price: $174,700

11. Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery. (Credit: Max Pixel)

Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $32,963
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $29,300
Median home price: $145,700

12. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $37,216
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $33,081
Median home price: $164,500

13. Rochester, New York

Rochester. (Credit: Theresa Marconi)

Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $34,366
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $30,547
Median home price: $151,900

14. Springfield, Illinois
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $31,266
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $27,792
Median home price: $138,200

15. Topeka, Kansas
Salary required with a 10 percent down payment: $31,515
Salary required with a 20 percent down payment: $28,013
Median home price: $139,300

The former home of the defunct Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida

A Coral Gables-based firm moved a step closer to purchasing a vacant laboratory and office building from the city of Port St. Lucie for $14.5 million, or $135 per square foot.

The city’s mayor dislikes the deal, but he was the sole dissenter when the city council voted 4-1 to approve the sale to Coral Gables-based  RER Ventures, a distressed real estate investment firm.

The city council’s vote triggered a 90-day due diligence period, after which the deal could close within 30 days.

An independent appraisal valued the 107,000-square-foot building at $14.5 million, the price RER Ventures offered to pay.

Port St. Lucie would lose $49.5 million on the sale because the city guaranteed a $64 million loan to finance construction of the 107,000-square-foot building, which has nine laboratories.

The city seized the property last year after its previous occupant, the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI), shut down in 2015 after about two years in business.

Port St. Lucie has been repaying the $64 million loan since VGTI closed.

Mayor Greg Oravec objected to the $14.5 million appraised value of the former VGTI building because, with creditworthy tenants, the property would be worth more. [TCPalm.com]  Mike Seemuth

 

The Times-Union building and Wells Fargo Center (upper left), the newspaper’s future home.

The Florida Times-Union staff will move within six months to a new downtown location in Jacksonville from riverfront offices the daily newspaper has occupied for 51 years.

The Times-Union reported that its news, advertising and accounting staff will move into 27,000 square feet of second-floor space at a 35-story office building called the Wells Fargo Center by the end of March.

The newspaper has operated since 1967 at 1 Riverside Avenue in Jacksonville, which is owned by the Morris family of Augusta, Georgia.

The Morris family acquired the Times-Union and its 18-acre property along the St. Johns River in 1982.

Last year the family sold the newspaper to Gatehouse Media but retained the property and intends to redevelop it.

The Times-Union closed its printing operation at 1 Riverside Avenue early this year and moved production of weekday editions to Gainesville and the Sunday edition to Daytona Beach. [Jacksonville Daily Record]Mike Seemuth

Jeff Jones, managing broker of Engel & Völkers in Naples and Bonita Springs

August sales of Naples-area condominiums surged 21 percent from last year’s levels while house sales dropped 8 percent.

The Naples Area Board of Realtors also reported that the median sale price of condominiums in August was $250,000, unchanged from the same month last year.

The median price of houses sold in August slipped 3 percent to $319,000.

Most houses listed for sale in the Naples area last month have asking prices under $500,000.

But the Naples Realtors also reported that pending sales of condos priced from $500,000 to $1 million jumped 28 percent in August while pending house sales for more than $2 million soared 62 percent.

“The upper end continues to drive our market,” Jeff Jones, managing broker for the Naples and Bonita Springs offices of brokerage firm Engel & Völkers, said in a prepared statement.

New listings of Naples-area houses in August rose 2 percent to 4,913 from 4,807 in August 2017. New listings in August for condos were virtually unchanged at 2,353.

“Historically, August is where we begin to see an increase in inventory as sellers get ready for our busy winter season,” Mike Hughes, vice president and general manager for Downing-Frye Realty, said in a prepared statement. – Mike Seemuth

DR Horton house at Ventanas Del Sol development in Homestead

Home builder DR Horton bought vacant lots for 32 houses near Homestead, adding to its presence in south Miami-Dade County.

The Arlington, Texas-based builder paid $3.04 million for the land  at the northeast corner of Southwest 308 Street and Southwest 192 Avenue in South Dade.

Garden Developers LLC, run by Sergio Guardazzi, sold the land for a price that breaks down to $95,000 per lot.

Garden Developers has finished construction of two houses in the neighborhood, which the limited liability company sold for $380,000 and $466,000.

In June, DR Horton bought a vacant 20-acre site near Florida City for $6 million.

DR Horton lists 10 residential developments on its website that are south of Southwest 184 Avenue in Miami-Dade County. [South Florida Business Journal]Mike Seemuth

Iggy Pop (Credit: WikiMedia.org)

Rock music recording artist Iggy Pop transferred title to a Coconut Grove house he bought for $4.1 million to his wife, Nina Alu, after selling a Palmetto Bay house at a loss.

The five-bedroom, five-bathroom house in a gated community has black limestone floors, a library, a 20-foot entryway ceiling and an outdoor entertainment pavilion with a barbecue area that overlooks a swimming pool and a canal.

Iggy, 71, whose real name is James Newell OSterberg Jr., married Alu in 2008 and bought the house in Coconut Grove in 2016.

He transferred title to the Coconut Grove house to his wife after selling another house in Miami suburb Palmetto Bay.

He sold the three-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom house in Palmetto Bay for $235,000 less than he paid in 2006.

The Palmetto Bay property occupies more than an acre and features an aviary, a tennis court, swimming pool and spa, waterfall, wine cellar and library.

Iggy bought the house for $1.46 million and sold it for $1.225 million in June. [NZCity]Mike Seemuth

Andrew Maxey, director of land acquisition at PulteGroup (Credit: LinkedIn)

Home builder PulteGroup has proposed a downsized development on a former golf course in Oakland Park.

PulteGroup could start building 288 houses and 117 townhouses on the former Oak Tree Golf Course by the end of 2019.

The home builder originally proposed 850 homes, mostly townhouses, but drew criticism from Oakland Park residents and settled for a smaller development.

The development is pending the city’s approval of zoning and site-plan applications by PulteGroup, which has a contract to buy the former golf course from Blackwood Partners LLC and Blackshore Partners LLC.

Prices would start in the $300,000s for the planned townhouses and would range from the $400,000s to the $600,000s for the planned one- and two-story houses, Andrew Maxey, director of land acquisition at PulteGroup, told the Sun-Sentinel. [Sun-Sentinel]Mike Seemuth

 

Henri Bendel at 712 Fifth Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Amid sluggish sales, Henri Bendel is closing all 23 of its departments stores.

Parent company L Brands announced Friday that it would be shuttering the luxury store after 123 years, CNN reported. Its 23 stores will close after the holiday season in January 2019.

The move is an attempt “to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential,” including Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, the company said.

The retailer’s largest space is its flagship at 712 Fifth Avenue, which spans nearly 86,000 square feet, according to Commercial Observer. The lease in the Paramount Group’s building doesn’t end until Feb. 28, 2021, but Henri Bendel will be responsible for $6.5 million in annualized rent, the report said.

In the Chicago area, Henri Bendel has stores at Water Tower Place, Oakbrook Center and Westfield Old Orchard. It has also has outposts at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, the Dadeland and Aventura malls in Miami and Town Center in Boca Raton.

Bendel only accounts for a small portion of L Brands’ sales. Last year, the parent company reported revenue of $12.6 billion while Bendel’s 2018 sales were approximately $85 million, according to CNN. L Brands acquired Henri Bendel in 1985 and led its expansion into 11 states, the report said. [CNN] — Meenal Vamburkar

 

Phillip Frost and Opko Health Building 4400 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami billionaire Phillip Frost, the largest shareholder of brokerage firm Douglas Elliman’s parent company, denied charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he committed securities fraud.

Frost, who owns 15.3 percent of publicly held Vector Group, faces charges of participation in a fraudulent scheme to manipulate stock prices. Vector, which owns most of Douglas Ellimam through a subsidiary, is based in an office building at 4400 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. It also is the headquarters of Opko Health, which Frost runs as chairman and CEO.

“I was stunned by the SEC’s lawsuit and deny the allegations it contains against me,” Frost said Friday in a prepared statement. “It was particularly disturbing that the SEC departed from its own longstanding practice of providing advance notice and a meaningful opportunity to address their questions in advance of filing an action.”

The SEC filed a lawsuit Sept. 7 alleging that Frost participated in a scheme to inflate the prices of unidentified stocks and then sell them, generating $27 million of illegal stock sales and causing substantial harm to other investors.

The SEC charges in its lawsuit that Frost participated in stock fraud with Barry Honig, a Boca Raton businessman who allegedly orchestrated large purchases of stock issued by three small companies, then engaged in “illegal promotional activity and manipulative trading to artificially boost each issuer’s stock price.”

But in the statement he released Friday, Frost said he invested in two of the three unidentified companies “because I understood the entities presented promising medical developments and a real opportunity to deliver value for shareholders. I remain a significant long-term investor in both companies.”

Citing reports by other media outlets, the Miami Herald reported Friday that Cocrystal Pharma and MabVAx Therapuetics Holdings are the two of the three unidentified companies in the SEC lawsuit.

“The allegations against me are belied by common sense, my history of supporting promising scientific technology, and the facts,” Frost said in his statement. “Nothing is more important to me than my integrity … I intend to fight the charges that have been brought against me and will fight to clear my name.” – Mike Seemuth

Clockwise from top left: Freddie Mac starts search for new CEO as current one plans to retire, home loan originations hit a four-year-low in the second quarter, JPMorgan Chase initiative will let cities compete for $500M in funding, and House Republicans introduce legislation to make tax cuts for individuals permanent.

Home loan originations hit a 4-year-low in the second quarter, report says
Interest rates are rising, and the demand for home loans has hit a four-year low, according to a new report. Between April and June of this year, mortgage originators completed 1.5 million loans — the lowest level of loans completed since the first quarter of 2014, and a 27 percent drop from the same period of time last year, an Attom Data Solutions report showed. The report indicated that foreclosures and delinquencies are on the rise in major U.S. cities, while down payments are skyrocketing, creating difficulty for people looking to buy their first homes. [TRD]

Freddie Mac starts search for new CEO as Layton plans to retire
Donald Layton, who’s been the CEO of Freddie Mac since 2012, is stepping down, according to the Commercial Observer. Layton plans to retire in the second half of 2019, and the agency will either replace him with David Brickman — who was promoted to president at the agency and is the only internal candidate it’s considering — or an outsider. “Don has played an indispensable role in transforming Freddie Mac and moving the housing finance system in a better direction,” chairman Christopher Lynch said. [TRD]

JPMorgan Chase initiative will let cities compete for $500M in funding
A new JPMorgan Chase initiative called “AdvancingCities” aims to bolster economic growth across the country via public-private partnerships, the Wall Street Journal reported. Up to 30 cities will compete to receive part of $500 million in funding that will come from loans and philanthropic investments. The initiative aims to address “employment barriers, financial insecurity and neighborhood disinvestment,” according to the outlet. Cities interested in the funding will be able to submit to the request for proposals until the end of November and winners will be announced in the spring. [TRD]

House Republicans introduce legislation to make tax cuts for individuals permanent
The tax overhaul passed last year included lower tax rates for individuals, a change that is set to expire at the end of 2025. House Republicans, however, want to make those tax cuts permanent, Bloomberg reported. “It’s time to change the culture in Washington where we only do tax reform once a generation,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said in a statement to the outlet.“This legislation is our commitment to the American worker to ensure our tax code remains the most competitive in the world.” But the legislation also includes an extension of the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions — an inclusion that several Republican lawmakers in states that have been hit by the cap say they won’t support. [TRD]

MAJOR MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

Berkshire Hathaway snaps up Century 21 Commonwealth in Boston
Century 21 Commonwealth, which has 22 offices in Boston, has been snapped up by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Inman reported. The deal includes Commonwealth’s 500-plus brokers, and will see the firm eliminate its “Century 21” branding. “We considered different real estate networks as part of our research and decided Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices offered what we need to help our brokerage expand and reach new levels of production and service,” Commonwealth founding partner George Patsio said in a statement provided to the outlet. “After meeting the entire support team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, we are even more confident in our decision and excited to get started.” Patsio said Commonwealth’s new relationship with HomeServices will allow the company to double its sales volume. [TRD]

New York City brokers aren’t happy about Google Maps renaming neighborhoods
Brokers in New York City aren’t happy about Google rebranding neighborhoods, they told TRD. Last month, The New York Times reported that new names have been popping up on Google Maps — something Google attributed to a combination of user submissions, third-party data and public sources and satellites. In Manhattan, for example, a prestigious neighborhood called Sutton Place is split into “Sutton Place North and “Sutton Place South” on Google Maps. “It’s not helpful in any way, and the truth is it’s not a big neighborhood to start with,” Stribling & Associates’ Pamela D’Arc said. “To now turn it into two different locations is ludicrous.” [TRD]

Zillow Group’s homebuying program Zillow Offers is expanding to Atlanta
Atlanta is the newest market for Zillow Group’s homebuying program, known as Zillow Offers. As part of the expansion, the listings giant will be able to buy homes directly from Atlanta homeowners and resell them after preparing them for showings. The program is already up and running in Phoenix and Las Vegas, and is heading to Denver next. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers are teaming up with Zillow for the Atlanta launch. Zillow Offers hasn’t had a warm welcome in every city, however. During pilot programs in Las Vegas and Orlando last year, thousands of agents asked the National Association of Realtors to shut the service down. [TRD]

Miami luxury brokerage principals battling against one another in court
A luxury brokerage in Miami could be torn apart by its founding principals’ court battle against one another. International Sales Group’s Craig Studnicky and Philip Spiegelman are accusing each other of mismanaging funds, among other claims. Some of the claims are personal, with Studnicky claiming ISG’s third founding partner distanced himself from the brokerage because of Spiegelman’s “overbearing narcissism and obnoxious personality,” while maintaining his “substance abuse problems and antisocial behavior” have made him unproductive. Studnicky told TRD the two are “hopeful we can resolve our differences amicably in a short period of time,” while Spiegelman didn’t respond to requests for comment. [TRD]

Former Obama adviser and strategist David Axelrod lists his Chicago Gold Coast condo
Political strategist David Axelrod and his wife are parting ways with their 42nd-floor condo in Water Tower Place in Chicago. The former senior advisor to Obama currently leads the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. He and his wife put the 3,320-square-foot, three-bedroom unit on the market for $3.25 million, the Chicago Tribune reported. If it goes for asking price, they’ll turn a profit on the condo, which they purchased for $1.7 million in 2012. During their stay in the condo, the couple had hired Nate Berkus and Marvin Herman Associates to gut-renovate the unit, the outlet reported. [TRD]

Rendering of Midtown Boca and Angelo Bianco, Crocker Partners’ managing partner

Crocker Partners can now move forward with a lawsuit seeking $137 million in damages against the city of Boca Raton over its planned Midtown Boca project.

In April, the developer said it would file a lawsuit under the Bert Harris Act, which requires a 150-day period before a lawsuit can be filed. Last week, that 150-day time period ran out, and the developer said the city did not try resolve any of its claims with the Boca Raton developer. The Bert Harris Act provides relief to landowners whose property rights have been abridged by governmental actions.

Crocker Partners can begin with the discovery phase, and plans to file the suit in Palm Beach Circuit Court in the next four to six weeks, according to Angelo Bianco, Crocker Partners’ managing partner.

The suit is a part of the ongoing saga between the city and Crocker Partners that dates back to 2010, when the city council amended Boca Raton’s land-use plan for the 300-acre area and directed city staff to write new zoning rules for development there.

The rezoning would allow Crocker Partners and other developers to build a mixed-use project with up to 2,500 residential units on the site, which is just east of the Town Center shopping mall. But the zoning still has not been implemented.

In January of this year, the city council then voted to develop a “small area plan,” which prevented Crocker Partners from developing the project.

In May, a month after Crocker Partners notified the city of its intent to sue under the Bert Harris Act, the developer filed a separate lawsuit against the city to move forward with the rezoning without any damages. The court recently denied the city’s motion to dismiss the May lawsuit.

The city of Boca Raton declined to comment through a spokesperson.

David Edelstein, Tony Arellano and Devlin Marinoff, and an aerial view of the property

David Edelstein is spending about $32 million to buy a large assemblage on Fifth Avenue in Wynwood that he eventually plans to develop into a mixed-use project, The Real Deal has learned.

The New York developer is acquiring nearly two blocks on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 26th and 28th streets. The assemblage totals about 74,000 square feet, or 1.7 acres, of land. It’s near Goldman Properties’ new parking garage on a street that has yet to be redeveloped.

Edelstein’s New York-based TriStar Capital closed on the first piece on Friday, spending $18 million for the properties at 2641 and 2661 Northwest Fifth Avenue.

Tony Arellano, Devlin Marinoff and Jordan Gimelstein of Dwntwn Realty Advisors represented Edelstein, while Ari Dispenza of Central Commercial Real Estate represented the seller, Kie Nam Park and Soon Joo Park.

The second portion, between 27th and 28th streets, is slated to close in October for about $14 million.

The assemblage adds to the land that TriStar has on Northeast 24th and 25th streets between Second Avenue and North Miami Avenue. Edelstein estimated that he owns up to 250,000 square feet of land in the neighborhood. Earlier this year, LeBron James’ Unknwn, a men’s fashion retailer, secured a lease at one of Edelstein’s buildings.

Edelstein, who also owns the W South Beach, is a landlord to major tech companies like Amazon and Facebook in Seattle, and Apple in Sunnyvale, California, and thinks Wynwood fits the mold for those kinds of tenants.

Edelstein plans to renovate the warehouses and eventually develop the site into two buildings with up to 300,000 square feet of space each — possibly office, hospitality or retail.

On the west side of Fifth Avenue, Sterling Bay Projects is planning a 10-story, mixed-use office building called 545 Wyn.

“Fifth Avenue is the most desirable street in Wynwood, Edelstein said. “It’s always had the infrastructure to be the most walkable street; it’s just a matter of when that happens.” He said his project could break ground in three to five years, depending on market conditions.

Moishe Mana and Goldman are among the developers who already own property on Fifth Avenue. Mana Wynwood backs up the street, which is near I-95.

Meanwhile, a number of mixed-use apartment and office projects are under construction in Wynwood, from Miami and New York developers like the Related Group, East End Capital, Block Capital Group and Redsky Capital.

Jonathan Gray and 345 Park Avenue (Credit: Getty Images)

Blackstone Group is looking to raise $18 billion for its largest real estate fund to date.

New York-based Blackstone will invest the money in distressed properties globally, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

Its previous real estate fund raised $15.8 billion when it closed in 2015, part of $40 billion raised from its three most recent real estate funds.

Blackstone is launching the fund at a time when institutional investors are turning toward real estate to protect against inflation and broaden their portfolios. Data provider Preqin last month said the number of institutional investors that allocate $1 billion or more to real estate grew to 499 in 2018. That was up from about 436 in 2017.

In June, Blackstone raised $7.1 billion for an opportunistic real estate fund focused on Asia.

Now led by Jonathan Gray, Blackstone started its real estate division in 1991 and has amassed $119 billion in assets globally. Its portfolio includes hotel, office, retail, industrial and residential properties in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

An recent analysis by The Real Deal shows Blackstone owns 20.1 million square feet in New York alone. It also owns the iconic Willis Tower in Chicago as well as numerous properties in Los Angeles and South Florida. [Bloomberg] — John O’Brien

From left: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, a screengrab of the Corcoran affiliate page on Amazon, and Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman (Credit: Getty Images and Amazon)

Q: What do a leather pouf, UGG slippers and crystal decanter have in common?

A: They were all hand-picked by the Corcoran Group to appear on the firm’s new Amazon page.

Thanks to a new partnership with the e-commerce colossus, the New York brokerage is earning a small commission on the purchase of goods it recommends to customers, the firm said.”It’s a curated collection of products,” said Christina Panos, Corcoran’s chief marketing officer, who said Amazon reached out a few months ago to float the idea.

For years, Amazon has worked with affiliates to drive traffic to its website in exchange for a small percentage of sales.

In Corcoran’s case, the firm’s digital team and a “braintrust” of experienced agents put together the wish-list of items, which include things like a Nespresso coffee maker ($139) and wool throw ($79.99) and drawer organizer ($13.87). They’re also grouped in several categories, including fall favorites, smart home, entertaining favorites, new home essentials and beach home picks.

“We’re testing it out to see what works, to be honest with you,” said Panos, who declined to say how much Corcoran will earn off the referrals. “It’s less of a money-making endeavor right now and more just trying to expand the services we offer our clients that go beyond the closing of the home.”

Given that brokerage is a relationship business, Corcoran is not alone in wanting to tap into the vast “referral economy” surrounding home buying.

Earlier this year, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin said he envisions a time when brokerage commissions make up a small part of an agent’s earnings. In addition to sales commissions, he said they would get paid for referring clients to lawyers, interior designers and others. “You’re answering them today,” he said, referring to clients’ questions. “You’re just not getting paid for it.”

Recently, some developers have dabbled in referrals by enlisting social media “influencers” to promote their properties. Brooklyn-based Two Trees Management, for example, hired Tavi Gevinson to live in and promote 300 Ashland, a 379-unit building near the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Former Gold Dust Hotel and Motel Blu and developer Avra Jain

A partnership between Avra Jain and Dragonfly Investments just picked up a motel in the MiMo District – not too far away from Jain’s Vagabond Hotel.

Property records show Jain’s Gold Dust 7700 LLC paid $6 million for Motel Blu at 7700 Biscayne Boulevard, a two-story, 60-unit building next to the cabaret nightclub Gold Rush. The deal breaks down to about $100,000 per room.

Jain wrote that she and Dragonfly plan to restore and renovate the hotel, bringing back its Gold Dust name. The partners financed the acquisition with a $5.5 million loan from Continental Bank.

Ventura 77 LLC, led by hotelier Orlando Valdes, sold the property. He paid $4.2 million for the motel in 2014. It was built in 1957.

Valdes and his wife Gladys have also owned boutique hotels in Miami Beach. In 2015, the couple sold the Orchid House in Miami Beach for $7.5 million.

Jain has been credited with leading new investment in the MiMo District. Her projects along Biscayne Boulevard include the Stephens International Hotel and South Pacific Motel. She’s also working on projects in Hialeah, Overtown and Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

Earlier this year, 13th Floor Investments and Tricera Capital unveiled their plans for Paseo Miami, a mixed-use apartment building featuring 294 units, 27,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and more than 500 parking spaces, at 5700 Biscayne Boulevard.

L.A., Chicago and New York topped a survey of millennial populations.

With today’s young adults choosing city life at a much-higher rate than in previous generations, which neighborhoods in the country are attracting the highest concentrations of Millennials?

A new study looked at which ZIP codes have become Millennial strongholds and found that New York, Chicago and Los Angeles were among those that were attracting the most.

The analysis, by RENTCafe.com, found that Los Angeles has the top-two neighborhoods in the country in terms of increasing numbers of Millennials. The 90014 and 90013 ZIP codes topped the list of more than 3,000 ZIP codes in the 250 largest cities.

Downtown Los Angeles’ 90014 is both the most gentrified ZIP code in the nation, as well as the “next Millennial hotspot,” the study found. It saw a 91 percent increase in its share of Millennials – the highest growth rate in the country. The Downtown ZIP that includes the blighted Skid Row — 90013 — ranked second, with a 60 percent increase.

On the East Coast, the Lower Manhattan ZIP code 10282 has the third-highest influx of Millennials, up 54.5 percent. The ZIP code covers Battery Park City, which is adjacent to TriBeCa.

While increasing numbers of Millennials seem to be pouring into L.A. and New York, the age group’s domination is strongest felt in the West Loop in Chicago. The cohort makes up 73 percent of the residents of the 60661 ZIP code, for the largest share of any area in the country. The former manufacturing and warehouse area has only recently been transforming into a more residential district that is booming with new apartment developments.

Lower Manhattan’s 10005 — the Financial District — tied for second place with Manayunk, Pa., for the largest shares of Millennials, at 71 percent of the population.

Based solely on numbers of residents, both Chicago and New York are brimming with Millennials. New York has nine of the top 20 ZIP codes for Millennials overall — all of them in Brooklyn and Queens — followed by Chicago with seven.

The ZIP code 11211 in Williamsburg is home to almost 44,000 Millennials, the largest of any other zip code in the U.S. Chicago’s 60657, largely covering Lakeview, ranked second, with 41,500 millennials. Famous for its landmark Wrigley Field, Lakeview’s attractiveness comes from the relatively short commute to Chicago’s Loop, combined with a lively, young vibe.

For its study, RENTCafe.com analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2011-2016 with more than 3,000 ZIP codes in the 250 largest cities in the country. The survey ranked the highest increase of Millennials; the largest share of Millennials; and the largest Millennial populations. RENTCafe defined a “Millennial” as someone born between 1977-1996.

Isadore Havenick, Ken Russell, Poker and Jai Alai images (Credit: Max Pixel)

Miami officials moved closer to preventing owners of Magic City Casino from opening an Edgewater gambling venue that would include a jai alai court and poker room, following resident outcry over the proposal.

City commissioners voted 4-1 on first reading Thursday to authorize the Miami city manager and planning department draw up changes to the Miami 21 zoning code. That new measures would force developers proposing gambling venues to go through a public hearing and receive “super majority” approval from the city commission.

Prominent developers Jorge Pérez and Craig Robins, and auto magnate Norman Braman publicly oppose West Flagler Associates’ new venue. But Commissioner Ken Russell — who proposed the changes — said that multiple homeowners associations, which oppose the plan, were the driving force.

The state’s division of pari-mutuel wagering recently approved a permit for West Flagler Associates — which owns Magic City Casino — to open its new venue. The complex would rise on land owned by real estate firm Crescent Heights, at 3030 Biscayne Boulevard. Executives for West Flagler, which has a tentative lease agreement with Crescent Heights, claim they were able to obtain the permit because of a letter submitted by the city’s planning department in support of the gambling venue.

“We are disappointed the city has taken such and adverse position to us in wanting to create another entertainment venue and employee 500 more residents of Miami and Miami-Dade County,” West Flagler’s Isadore Havenick told The Real Deal following the vote.

The amendments to Miami 21 would define what gambling facilities are and where such venues can be located. Four out of five commissioners would also need to vote in favor of opening any future pari-mutuels, casinos, or card rooms.

The commission is expected to vote on the proposed Miami 21 amendment at its next meeting. If approved, the measure would pass.

Steven Mnuchin and 740 Park Avenue (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia, and Warburg Realty)

The storied building at 740 Park Avenue has been home to some of the country’s most powerful families like the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers and the Kochs.

It has also been in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s family since the 1960s. Now, Mnuchin is looking to sell his family’s 6,500-square-foot residence, asking $32.5 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The luxury building on East 71st Street has a long and distinguished history in New York, and recently has also been home to Ronald Lauder, Stephen Schwarzman and Vera Wang.

Mnuchin reportedly bought the five-bedroom pad from his aunt, Carol Lederman, for $10.5 million in 2000. But the unit, spread over 12 rooms and two floors, did not serve as Mnuchin’s primary home. He was based in California as a Hollywood financier. Carol Lederman, a broker for Warburg, is also the listing agent.

In April, the former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain listed his penthouse there for $39.5 million. In 2004, David Koch paid $18 million for an 18-room duplex in the premises. [WSJ] — David Jeans

The Vista Shopping Center, Enclave Shops at Coral Ridge, Shoppes & Offices at PGA West, Toys “R” Us and Wawa

Commercial real estate heavyweights Blackstone Group and Stiles Corp. recorded the two priciest retail trades in South Florida in August.

Another notable trade last month involved a former Toys “R” Us building in Plantation. That sale was part the company’s efforts to unload 284 of its stores after filing for bankruptcy a year ago.

Overall, the retail market in South Florida has remained strong despite its notable struggles nationally. Sales volume in the retail sector rose 3 percent to $748.7 million in the second quarter.

The August investment sales figures were compiled from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County property records.

The Vista Shopping Center – Blackstone Group | $34.5M

A company tied to Blackstone bought a Sedano’s-anchored shopping center near Miami Lakes for $34.5 million. The seller, Miami-based Saglo Development, built the property that sits on 10 acres in the mid 1980s.

It quietly listed the complex after a neighboring shopping center sold to Jamestown in October for $34.25 million. The 97,600-square-foot Vista sold for about $350 per foot. Tenants include Navarro Pharmacy, Chipotle and Gyroville. The sale also included three standalone buildings that include a 7-Eleven, La Brasa Rotisserie & Grill and Jiffy Lube as tenants.

Enclave Shops at Coral Ridge – EEP Enterprises | $18M

Stiles Corp. sold its recently completed shopping center in Fort Lauderdale for $17.9 million to EEP Enterprises, a company led by South Florida investor and co-owner of Weston-based FGI Realty, Eduardo Pelaez.

The Enclave Shops at Coral Ridge, a 35,725-square-foot property at 3860 and 3800-3848 North Federal Highway, sold for about $500 per square foot. It’s leased to the high-end grocery store, The Fresh Market, SunTrust Bank and Spatch and Peri-Peri Grilled Chicken.

Stiles built the project as part of a joint venture with a group of investors led by the late auto dealer magnate Phil Smith. They also build the nearby 36-lot single-family residential community, The Enclave at Coral Ridge Country Club.

Shoppes & Offices at PGA West – Juster Development Company | $9.25M

Juster Development Company bought the Shoppes & Offices at PGA West for $9.25 million from LNR Partners. The office and retail center in Palm Beach Gardens spans nearly 38,000 square feet and sold for about $245 per square foot.

LNR took ownership of the property in 2012 after foreclosing on a $6.8 million mortgage from the previous owner, PGA Commons, which is tied to the Channing Corporation. PGA Commons paid $4 million for the 4-acre property in 1999 and developed the building in 2001.

Shoppes & Offices at PGA West features about 18,350 square feet of retail space and 19,400 square feet of office space. The property is nearly fully leased to tenants including La Masseria, Salute Market and Lickstein Plastic Surgery.

Toys “R” Us – Golf & Tennis Pro Shop Inc. | $7.6M

Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, known as PGA TOUR Superstore, paid $7.6 million for the former Toys “R” Us in Plantation.

The toy retailer sold its store at 8101 West Broward Boulevard, at the same time it did 13 other Toys “R” Us buildings, according to a bankruptcy court filing from late July.

Toys “R” Us recently brought on New York-based Raider Hill Advisors to help sell off 284 stores, distribution centers and other properties around the country. The company announced earlier this year it would shutter all of its stores after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year ago. At the time it had $5 billion in long-term debt and $400 million due in 2018.

Wawa – Timothy Patrick Development | $6.1M

Timothy Patrick Development bought a new Wawa gas station and convenience store in Lauderhill for $6.1 million.

The seller, Mash Petroleum Inc., paid $2 million for the 1.5-acre site — at 4401 Northwest 76th Avenue — last year. Timothy Patrick Development, a Farmington Hills, Michigan-based development firm, submitted plans with the city to build the store as early as 2016.

The gas station and food store opened in April. Over the past year, a number of Wawas have opened. This one was it’s sixth location in Broward County.

In an era when you can find almost anything you want to know online about real estate — the estimated market value of a house, the rankings of neighborhood schools, crime rates, walkability and much more — there’s one important subject that’s difficult for consumers to check out: Ethics infractions by local Realtors, including agents you might want to hire to list your house or help you buy.

You can see tons of agent reviews and ratings on sites like HomeLight and Zillow, but you really have to dig to find out that a particular agent has allegedly:

–Failed to disclose a fuel leak from a nearby facility that endangered the drinking water of houses, including the one the agent sold to unsuspecting clients.

–Misled buyers about the cause of a strange odor in a house listed by the agent, terming it nothing more than “sea air,” when in fact the sickening smells came from a buried septic tank and an oil tank on the property. The house ultimately had to be removed from the site.

–Concealed the fact that the agent representing the seller and the agent representing the buyer shared a massive conflict of interest: They were married to one another.

–Disclosed confidential information about the seller’s dire health condition. “You can offer whatever you want,” the agent representing the seller allegedly told the buyers. “She’ll take it.”

These are actual instances of violations of the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a detailed set of rules which the 1.35 million members are required to follow. Realty agents who are not members are under no such restrictions. The total number of ethics complaints and cases in a given year tends to be small. NAR does not track complaint statistics, but Jill Landsman, spokeswoman for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, said that so far in 2018, there have only been 96 ethics-related cases filed with her association, out of a total 12,881 members.

Earlier this year, the NAR’s board of directors adopted a policy change allowing local associations of Realtors to publish the names of members who have two ethics violations within a three-year period, along with details of the infractions. The policy, which is voluntary for local associations, won’t take effect nationally until next January. The head of the committee that recommended the policy to the board said in a statement quoted in Realtor magazine that, “This is what people have been wanting for so long. Right now, we don’t know who the violators are because it’s not published.”

But there’s something missing in this effort at greater transparency. The list of violators will only be permitted in publications that are accessible to local members of the participating associations. Home buyers and sellers will not be able to check whether the agents they’re considering hiring are on the infractions list or not.

So why not let us consumers know about violations? Some Realtors have mixed feelings on the matter. Anthony Lamacchia, broker-owner of Lamacchia Realty Inc. in Waltham, Massachusetts, told me, “I’m of two minds” on disclosing to the general public. At first reading, he said, the policy “sounds pretty well stacked in the Realtor’s favor.” On the other hand, Lamacchia said, most ethics cases involve “agent-to-agent” conflicts “that don’t affect the consumer,” such as complaints filed by one agent about the business practices of a competitor.

Dana Hollish Hill, a Realtor in Washington D.C. and an instructor on ethics, says she would not object to wider dissemination of ethics violations “as long as all the information is presented in context.” It should show degrees of severity — if someone got slapped on the wrist for a minor mistake, it should be clearly distinguished from more serious violations that have the potential to affect clients.

Elizabeth Weintraub, a Realtor in Sacramento, California, says “ethics violations are either serious or they’re a joke, and that’s the problem with the ethics complaint program. You don’t know which. The public viewing of dirty laundry is never gonna happen.”

Absent disclosure of ethics infractions by local Realtor associations, where can you go for information? One possibility is your state real estate commission, which may allow you to search for violations if you look up the agent’s realty license number. Or you can search for reviews — or take note of the lack thereof — on Realtor.com.

Downtown Miami (Credit: iStock, Pixabay)

After a more than eight-year run that changed the Magic City’s skyline, Greater Downtown Miami’s condo cycle is likely nearing the end.

The Downtown Development Authority’s mid-year report, prepared by Integra Realty Resources, suggests that the cycle is coming to a close as Miami’s urban core has yet to see a new condo project break ground so far this year.

The average resale prices for condos fell to $392 per square foot from $405 per square foot at the end of 2017 – a sign that per-square-foot prices are returning to 2014 levels. Condo prices will likely continue to fall in the near future on a per-foot basis to about $360 per square foot.

“It’s hard to argue there could be any better time to buy as pricing edges down late cycle,” the report states.

The number of units under construction in Greater Downtown Miami totaled 3,849 by mid-year 2018, down from nearly 5,000 units at the end of 2017. By the second quarter of this year, there were nearly 28,000 condo units in the pipeline, up 5 percent year-over-year, according to the DDA. The pipeline includes units that are completed, under construction, under contract, reserved and proposed in downtown Miami, Brickell, Arts & Entertainment District, Edgewater, Midtown Miami and Wynwood.

Anthony “Tony” Graziano, who authored the report, stresses that this cycle is healthier than the previous one because developers have more equity in their projects. In most condo projects this cycle, developers required buyers put down 50 percent deposits and banks generally required 50 percent presales before providing a construction loan.

“You don’t have any of the big banking risk exposure,” Graziano said.

By the end of this year, the DDA report estimates that the number of units under construction will be fewer than 2,500 – less than 10 percent as large as the pipeline was when the financial crisis hit.

While the condo market is winding down, the report signals that the multifamily market continues to remain strong. Overall gross average rents for apartments increased 4.5 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2018 to $2,175 a month.

Over the past year, more than 2,400 rental units at Square Station, Solitair, Panorama, 2500 Biscayne and Midtown 29 have been delivered in Greater Downtown Miami. Another 1,600 units will be completed in the next nine months.

Eduardo Costantiniand the Ballerina restaurant at Oceana Bal Harbour

Can a delicately prepared five-course meal be enticing enough to get a condo buyer to sign on the dotted line?

The latest amenity at high-end condominium towers is the private restaurant for residents, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Developers in major U.S. cities hope they can attract customers in competitive and overheated markets by serving up what literally no one but residents can taste.

Miami is a hotspot for private dining rooms. Consultatio USA has resident-only restaurants at its Oceana Bal Harbour and Oceana Key Biscayne developments. The firm’s owner, Eduardo Costantini has a unit there.

“It’s very different than operating a regular restaurant — it’s like we are their own kitchen,” said Tommaso Morelato, whose Toscana Divino Hospitality Group runs Ballerina and a residents-only restaurant at Oceana Key Biscayne. “These residents can come to eat three or four times a week.”

Gil Dezer’s Porsche Design Tower, with units listed from $6.3 million to $32.5 million, has its Fuel restaurant serving truffle pasta. Residents of Miami’s private Fisher Island can grab drinks and snacks from Palazzo Del Sol.

Many of these private restaurants for residents are run by celebrity chefs. Boston’s Millenium Tower has Mina at the Tower, run by chef Michael Mina. Residents also have access to a private smartphone app to order food from the restaurant delivered to their units.

In Chicago, the team behind the under-development 1000M skyscraper is planning a full service bar and lounge on the building’s 72nd floor, open only to residents.

Exclusive amenities are popping up at rental properties, too. At 63 Wall in New York, there is a speakeasy called The Transcript on the building’s second floor. Only tenants can imbibe. [WSJ] – Dennis Lynch

For the The Real Deal’s latest subscriber conference call, senior content director Jill Noonan sat down with senior reporter E.B. Solomont to discuss residential unicorn Compass, as it shoots for $1 billion in revenue amid rapid expansion and major brokerage acquisitions.

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