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South Florida News

  • Mortgage applications drop despite posting annual growth


    Mortgage applications fell last week, mostly due to a decline in homeowners seeking refinancing.

    The Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly refinance index dropped 7 percent seasonally adjusted for the week ending Sept. 25. The metric tracks the volume of refinancing applications filed each week across the country.

    Joel Kan, MBA’s head of industry forecasting, attributed the drop to lenders “working through operational challenges, ultimately limiting the number of applications they are able to accept,” he said in a statement.

    A spokesperson for Kan clarified that the challenges he was referring to include staff shortages, remote work and tightening credit rules due to uncertain economic conditions.

    Kan also said another possible factor for the drop in refinance applications may be due to refi rates not decreasing to the same extent as purchase loan rates, which MBA ascertained from feedback from lenders and its internal data.

    Despite last week’s decline, however, refinancing application volume was up 52 percent year over year, indicating continued robust demand from homeowners.

    MBA’s index following the volume of purchase applications also dropped by an adjusted 2 percent last week, though it also remained 22 percent higher than a year ago. It’s the 19th consecutive week the purchase index has reported annual growth.

    Rates for an average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell 5 basis points to 3.05 percent, a record low for MBA’s weekly survey, which has been running since 1990 and monitors 75 percent of the residential mortgage market. The average jumbo rate dropped 2 basis points to 3.33 percent.

    Kan noted that the average purchase loan size was $370,700 last week, just shy of the survey’s record of $371,000 from the previous week, indicating continued activity “in the higher price tiers.”

    The median price to buy a home exceeded $300,000 for the first time ever in July as the national supply of homes available for purchase dwindled to a 40-year low in the same month.

    Demand has not lessened despite higher prices, however. In August, home sales for both existing and newly-built homes reached 14-year highs.


    The post Mortgage applications drop despite posting annual growth appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Lawsuit seeking class action status accuses Grant Cardone of misleading investors
    Grant Cardone

    Grant Cardone

    Real estate crowdfunding guru Grant Cardone is facing allegations that he’s misled thousands of investors across the country by falsely promising them annual returns of at least 15 percent and other incentives that never materialized.

    Fresh off their acquisition of a waterfront Fort Lauderdale apartment complex, Cardone and his Aventura, Florida-based firm Cardone Capital were accused of violating federal securities laws in a suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles earlier this month. The lawsuit alleges they made false and misleading statements and omitted material facts in connection with public offerings for two Cardone Capital funds totalling $100 million.

    The funds raised money from investors through crowdfunding, including $50 million between 2018 and 2019 that was used to purchase an interest in a 346-unit apartment complex in Delray Beach, the lawsuit states. Between last year and June 25, Cardone Capital raised another $50 million, and some of the proceeds were used to purchase the Port Royale Apartments, a 22-acre waterfront complex with a private marina along the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale.

    Luis Pino, an Inglewood, California resident who invested $10,000 into both funds in September of last year, is the lead plaintiff in the complaint, which seeks class action status. Pino’s attorney Marc Seltzer declined comment.

    Cardone, whose Instagram account boasts more than 3 million followers, is a real estate entrepreneur who has leveraged his large social media presence into recruiting small-time investors hungry to put their money into commercial real estate deals, mostly involving multifamily properties. Cardone is also set to star in the upcoming season of Discovery’s reality television show, “Undercover Billionaire.”

    During his keynote appearance at The Real Deal’s annual Miami Showcase & Forum last year, Cardone said celebrity appeal was a key ingredient to his success. At the time, he boasted his firm bought more than $400 million worth of real estate in Florida, mostly apartment buildings between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. “Money follows glitter and noise and lights,” Cardone said. “You build a brand and you get attention…How do you sell anything? You get attention.”

    In an emailed statement, Cardone Capital said it attempted to return Pino his $10,000 investment upon learning of his lawsuit. “He declined so clearly the investor and his counsel have a different agenda,” the statement reads, adding that Cardone created Cardone Capital to “level the playing field.”

    “We have raised over $425 million and have one investor who presented himself to be a non-accredited investor, who invested the minimum five thousand dollars into two different funds and is now attempting to assert a class action lawsuit against us,” according to the statement.

    The lawsuit alleges that a Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyer sent a letter to Cardone Capital on July 30, 2018, warning the firm to remove claims in one of its public offerings that investors would receive a monthly distribution that represented an approximately 15 percent annual return on investment. The SEC lawyer wrote that Cardone Capital did not appear to have a basis for promising such a return, the complaint alleges.

    The lawsuit claims Cardone Capital ignored the warnings and continued to peddle misleading information to investors.

    Cardone uses his Instagram account to post photos and videos of himself living a luxurious, wealthy lifestyle, as well as pitching his crowdfunding business. The content is accompanied by captions proclaiming others can be just as rich as him by investing with Cardone Capital. For instance, the lawsuit cites an Instagram video post on Sept. 17, 2019 in which Cardone claimed a $220,000 investment would result in a $660,000 position in one of the funds and would allow investors to earn about $12,000 to $15,000 a year in distributions.

    “In fact, this statement was materially false and misleading because there was no reasonable basis for this representation and investors’ distributions have, in fact, been much lower than these amounts,” the lawsuit alleges.

    Cardone also acquired some of the properties with his own money and then subsequently flipped the real estate to the Cardone Capital funds. In some cases, Cardone provided mortgages to the funds for the purchases, charging a 6 percent interest rate. Those were paid with investor monies, the lawsuit alleges.

    The post Lawsuit seeking class action status accuses Grant Cardone of misleading investors appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Movers & Shakers: Interior designer joins Douglas Elliman team & more
    Sofia Joelsson and Lee Ann Edwards

    Sofia Joelsson and Lee Ann Edwards

    Interior designer Sofia Joelsson joined Douglas Elliman.

    Joelsson joined Elliman’s Carmenate/Duchon team, based out of South Beach. Joelsson has worked with developers who include David Martin of Terra, Marcelo Kingston of Multiplan Real Estate Asset Management and One Thousand Museum co-developer Louis Birdman.

    Jonathan Eismann, a longtime broker with Lombardi Properties, joined Gridline Properties as a senior associate.

    The Altman Companies hired Lee Ann Edwards as president of Altman Management Company, where she will lead business development and strategy. She previously worked at Riverstone Residential, Greystar and RE Carroll Management.

    Elandis, a real estate ownership and property management subsidiary of the Libra Group, announced the launch of a joint venture with international asset manager M&G Investments. The joint venture will focus on acquiring and repositioning workforce multifamily communities across the Sunbelt region, particularly in states that include Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Nevada.

    RKW Residential hired Carlos Vilchez as its new chief operating officer. Prior to joining RKW, Vilchez owned a consulting practice. He was also previously an auditor at the accounting firm PwC before serving as chief financial officer of several companies.

    RE/MAX Presidential announced it’s opening a new office at 19790 West Dixie Highway in Aventura. The space is expected to open Thursday, and is across the street from Aventura Mall.


    The post Movers & Shakers: Interior designer joins Douglas Elliman team & more appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Here’s what tenants are paying at Aventura Mall
    Simon Property Group’s David Simon, Turnberry's Jackie Soffer and the Aventura Mall (Getty, Wikipedia)

    Simon Property Group’s David Simon, Turnberry’s Jackie Soffer and the Aventura Mall (Getty, Wikipedia)

    Aventura Mall has stood out as a success story in a mall landscape battered by competition from e-commerce and shifting consumer preferences.

    The 37-year-old mall — the largest in Florida — was recently ranked as the second most-visited shopping center in the country with more than 28 million annual visitors, including a notable concentration of foreign shoppers from South America, Mexico and Europe.

    The pandemic has complicated things, of course. The mall shut down during the early days of the outbreak in March, and partially reopened two months later. The movie theater at the complex reopened just two weeks ago as Miami-Dade county entered Phase 2 of its reopening.

    The Soffer family’s Turnberry Associates, which developed the property in 1983, retains a two-thirds majority stake in the mall while Simon Property Group owns the remaining third. The owners completed a $230 million, 226,000-square-foot expansion at the mall in 2017, and landed a $1.75 billion refinancing for it the following year.

    That financing was distributed into several mortgage-backed security transactions, and rating documents associated with the securitization provide an inside look at the property’s finances.

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    The 2.2 million-square-foot mall was 91.9-percent leased to more than 300 tenants as of last September, according to the latest surveillance report from Kroll Bond Rating Agency. Four of the complex’s anchor tenants — two Macy’s spaces, Bloomingdales and Nordstrom — own their own buildings subject to ground leases from the mall owner, and those spaces are not part of the collateral for the mortgage.

    The property’s fifth anchor tenant is J.C. Penney, whose base rent comes out to just $3.41 per square foot for 194,000 square feet of space. The department store chain filed for bankruptcy in May, though its location at the Aventura Mall has not been included on any store closure list, according to Kroll. The mall’s minority owner Simon Property Group, along with Brookfield Property Group and Authentic Brands, are reportedly in talks to acquire the retailer.

    The next largest tenant by square footage is an AMC movie theater. The theater chain has been struggling massively due to the pandemic, and recent SEC filings raised “substantial doubt” about its “ability to continue as a going concern.” The AMC at Aventura Mall reopened this month, and moviegoers are required to wear masks at all times — which means no food or drink is allowed.

    Other tenants that are facing hard times include Forever 21, whose sub-brand XXI Forever has a store at the mall. The fast-fashion retailer had inked a three-year renewal at the mall — reducing rent from $70 to $62 — shortly before declaring bankruptcy last fall. Victoria’s Secret also plans to close hundreds of stores across the country after a deal to sell the company fell through in the early days of the pandemic.

    Despite challenges posed by coronavirus, the property has remained current on loan payments and has not appeared on servicer watchlists for Covid relief. (Some other large malls that were thriving before the pandemic, like Minnesota’s Mall of America, have had a much harder time.)

    The mall’s parking lot is now home to a drive-in coronavirus testing site, and a “COVID-19 Essentials” pop-up store at the mall sells products like hand sanitizer, face masks and “non-contact door openers.” Construction on a new Brightline station next to the mall kicked off this month following pandemic-related delays, and is set to improve the site’s connectivity to downtown Miami.

    Turnberry co-CEOs and siblings Jackie and Jeffrey Soffer split up to pursue individual projects last year. Jackie retained the Turnberry Associates brand and principal ownership of the Aventura Mall, while Jeffrey became head of a separate company, Fontainebleau Development. Kroll data indicates Jeffrey is still one of the guarantors for the Aventura Mall loan, along with Simon and Jackie.


    The post Here’s what tenants are paying at Aventura Mall appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Retail bankruptcies on pace to rival 2010: report
    Retail bankruptcies are on pace to surpass those filed in 2010, while store closings have already passed those from 2019, according to a report (Getty)

    Retail bankruptcies are on pace to surpass those filed in 2010, while store closings have already passed those from 2019, according to a report (Getty)

    It’s been a difficult year for retailers, and things may get worse before they get better: The number of bankruptcy filings by retailers this year could outpace those filed in the wake of the Great Recession.

    As of Sept. 29, nearly 30 retailers filed for bankruptcy, leading to almost 6,000 store closures, according to a biannual bankruptcy report from BDO International, a financial services firm. That’s on pace to beat 2010, when 48 retailers filed for bankruptcy.

    But this year has already seen one unfortunate record broken: Approximately 10,226 store closures were announced from January to mid-August, surpassing the record 9,500 stores that closed throughout 2019, according to BDO’s report.

    This year is also unusual because many of those store closures are unrelated to bankruptcies: More than 15 retailers that have not filed for bankruptcy — including Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Gap — decided to shed at least 50 stores each, totalling more than 4,200 store closings.

    In the pandemic-driven recession, apparel and footwear retailers have been among the hardest hit, with 10 bankruptcy filings accompanied by 2,368 store closings.

    One notable example was Brooks Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy in July and is likely to be acquired by Authentic Brands Group and SPARC Group, according to media reports. Others include Neiman Marcus, which emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month, and J.C. Penney, which has been acquired by Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.

    Home furnishing retailers came in as the second-most affected, with five retailers filing for bankruptcy and 1,433 store closings.


    The post Retail bankruptcies on pace to rival 2010: report appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Medical co-working space operator buys Miami medical campus
    John Bardis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and the office (Credit: Google Maps)

    John Bardis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and the office (Credit: Google Maps)

    An owner and operator of medical co-working space bought a medical office campus in Miami from a company with ties to Florida’s former lieutenant governor.

    Alpharetta, Georgia-based ShareMD bought the three-building, 10-acre property at 7400, 7500 and 7800 Southwest 87th Avenue, according to a press release. The company declined to provide the purchase price.

    Affiliates of PanAmerican Companies, led by principal Carlos Lopez-Cantera, sold the properties, which are about a mile away from Baptist Health South Florida’s Kendall campus.

    Lopez-Cantera was lieutenant governor from 2014 to 2019 under former Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

    Starwood Mortgage Capital provided ShareMD with financing to purchase the 177,000-square-foot medical campus. PSRS arranged the financing. Miami-based Ideal Management and FIP Realty Services represented ShareMD.

    The PanAmerican affiliates paid a combined $11.9 million for the buildings at 7800 and 7400 Southwest 87th Avenue between 1997 and 2000, property records show. They were built between 1989 and 2014.

    ShareMD now owns 12 buildings and more than 1 million square feet of healthcare assets in Florida and California, according to the release. The company is backed by private equity firm Martis Capital.

    Last year, ShareMD paid $33.2 million for the buildings at 5966 South Dixie Highway and 475 Biltmore Way. Each is about 50,000 square feet.

    The company is led by CEO John Bardis, a former assistant secretary for administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Trump. He served for about a year.

    The sale comes despite Covid-19’s potential impact on the office market.

    Other recent South Florida medical office sales include Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors’ purchase of a medical office complex in Lake Worth Beach for $7.3 million and a medical office building in West Palm Beach that sold at a discount for $5.2 million.

    The post Medical co-working space operator buys Miami medical campus appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Colony deal puts Highgate among biggest hotel owners
    Highgate’s Mahmood Khimji (left) and Mehdi Khimji (Credit: Kelly Taub/BFA.com)

    Highgate’s Mahmood Khimji (left) and Mehdi Khimji (Credit: Kelly Taub/BFA.com)

    Highgate’s deal to purchase a $2.8 billion portfolio of hotels from Colony Capital will catapult the company into the upper ranks of the nation’s largest hotel owners.

    The privately held hospitality firm, launched in 1988 by brothers Mahmood and Mehdi Khimji, will have the fifth-largest portfolio in the country when it finalizes its deal with Colony, which is scheduled to close early next year. Highgate owns more than 34,000 rooms, according to figures from Real Capital Analytics.

    It represents a huge leap in scale for the company that — although it is the largest hotel owner and operator in New York City — was a relatively small player on the national stage. Highgate’s current portfolio of 11,500 rooms makes it the 25th largest hotel owner in the nation, according to RCA, although Highgate said it owns 17,000 rooms. The discrepancy may be explained by rooms Highgate manages for others while also having a small equity stake.

    The acquisition of 22,676 rooms from Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital will roughly triple its room count. That puts the company in the ranks of such hotel powerhouses as the Blackstone Group, Extended Stay America, Starwood Capital and Host Hotels & Resorts.

    But the deal comes as the pandemic has thrown the hotel industry into an unprecedented crisis.

    Colony, which is divesting itself of its legacy real estate assets, announced last week an agreement to sell six of its seven hotel portfolios to Highgate. Colony will receive $67.5 million in the deal and Highgate will take over $2.7 billion in existing debt on the portfolio.


    The post Colony deal puts Highgate among biggest hotel owners appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Related Group launches sales of first SoFla condo project since 2016
    Nick Pérez and Solemar (Courtesy of Related)

    Nick Pérez and Solemar (Courtesy of Related)

    Related Group launched sales of Solemar, a luxury condo building planned for Pompano Beach.

    The 105-unit, 20-story oceanfront building would mark the second new development to be built on the beach in Pompano since Sabbia Beach was completed in 2018.

    Called Solemar, it’s also the first new condo project that Related is launching sales for since the beginning of 2016, when the Miami-based developer began selling the Residences by Armani/Casa in Sunny Isles Beach. That was completed late last year.

    While parts of South Florida face a glut of supply, such as Sunny Isles, there is little new development in Pompano.

    Related, led by Miami condo king Jorge Pérez, has owned the 2.8-acre site at 1116 North Ocean Boulevard since 2011. Nick Pérez, a vice president at his father’s company, is spearheading the project. More than 10 percent of the units are under contract, he said.

    Related Realty will handle sales of Solemar, with prices ranging from $1.3 million for two-bedroom units on the lower floors; to larger penthouses starting at $5 million. The units will range from 2,000 square feet to 2,600 square feet, and the three penthouses will span 4,600 square feet. They will have an average price of about $800 per square foot.

    Buyers will pay 20 percent deposits at contract, an additional 10 percent when the building tops off, and the rest at closing.

    Nick Pérez said Related plans to break ground in the first half of 2021 and complete the project about two years after that. The developer is seeking construction financing, though Pérez declined to disclose how much.

    The decision to launch sales was made prior to the pandemic but Pérez said Related remains “confident in this market and this product.” Like other developers, the firm is betting on the influx of people migrating from high-tax states, though single-family homes have benefitted the most over the last six months.

    Arquitectonica is designing Solemar and Meyer Davis is handling the interior design. Amenities will include a fitness center, spa, theater, wine salon and club room, sunrise and sunset pools, lounges, firepits and a poolside cafe, according to a press release.

    Pérez said Related is also targeting empty nesters from western Broward County. He called the project “an extreme value play.”

    “Covid will pass and we think this property we have is irreplaceable,” Pérez said.

    Pompano Beach is in the initial stages of redevelopment. Sabbia Beach, a 19-story condo developed by Fernbrook LLLP at 730 North Ocean Boulevard, averaged preconstruction prices of about $700 per square foot.

    Lionheart Capital is planning to construct a two-building, 239-unit luxury condo project at 1380 South Ocean Boulevard that is slated to become the city’s tallest tower. Developer Dev Motwani also has plans to build a 27-story condo building at 1350 South Ocean Boulevard.

    The city also recently completed the new pier.


    The post Related Group launches sales of first SoFla condo project since 2016 appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff to start blank-check company
    Spencer Rascoff (Getty; iStock)

    Spencer Rascoff (Getty; iStock)

    The co-founder of Zillow and Hotwire is the latest high-profile real estate figure to join the blank-check craze.

    Spencer Rascoff is co-chairing a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), also known as a blank-check company, that will be seeking to invest in a tech unicorn and take it public, according to Inman.

    Rascoff will be joined by co-chair Alexander Klabin, who will soon become executive chairman of Sotheby’s Financial Services. Robert Reid, a former senior managing director at Blackstone, will serve as the SPAC’s CEO, while Michael Clifton, a former principal at the Carlyle Group, will be its chief financial officer.

    The SEC filing for Rascoff’s SPAC says it believes “that there are significant opportunities to invest in advantaged growth companies that are well-positioned to benefit from thematic shifts and tech-enabled trends and are valued between approximately $1 billion and $5 billion.”

    SPACs have made a comeback in the real estate industry recently. iBuying startup Opendoor recently announced that it will go public by merging with a SPAC that valued the startup at $4.8 billion.

    Rascoff co-founded the home listing database Zillow, and served as the company’s CEO for about a decade. In February 2019, Rascoff took a role on the company’s board of directors, while his co-founder Rich Barton became CEO. In April, Rascoff stepped down from Zillow’s board of directors to concentrate on two tech startups.

    [Inman] — Keith Larsen

    The post Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff to start blank-check company appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

  • Top developers on their reasons for doubling down in South Florida market

    For some Miami developers, the last few months have provided an opportunity to “double down.”

    “Our affordable division is extremely active,” Jon Paul Pérez, executive vice president of Related Group, said during The Real Deal’s latest episode of Coffee Talks. Pérez noted that Related has broken ground on three projects in the last 45 days.

    Another guest on the episode, Dezer Development founder Gil Dezer, also remains bullish on building across Miami.

    Last week, Dezer received the first approval for a massive project at North Miami Beach’s Intracoastal Mall, despite opposition.

    When asked about financing for the project, Dezer said that his company has been covering all costs. “We don’t have financing today, but we don’t necessarily need it today either,” he noted.

    For Pérez and Related — the largest developer in South Florida — there are opportunities away from the luxury beachfront markets. “We’re very bullish in Wynwood,” he said. “I think that’s one of the neighborhoods that has the most growth potential.” He noted that Related owns four sites there, which it will transform into 2,000 units, and is finishing a new headquarters in Coconut Grove.

    The pair are competitors and collaborators: Dezer and Related teamed up on the Residences by Armani/Casa last year. Closings began in December 2019, and Dezer said it was just in time:  “We had our opening party, and a week later, Covid happened. Sometimes you have more luck than brains.”

    Watch the video above for more top developer takes on the Miami market.

    The post Top developers on their reasons for doubling down in South Florida market appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.