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Texas teachers’ pension fund makes huge investment in international real estate

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Texas teachers’ retirement fund is betting big on the international real estate market.

The $3 billion Teacher Retirement System of Texas announced it will invest over $500 million with Dallas-based private equity firm Lone Star Funds, plus another $150 million for an infrastructure fund, according to IP&E Real Assets.

About $300 million will be invested into Lone Star’s Real Estate Partners VI fund, which is seeking $3 billion for property investments in Western Europe, North America and Asia. The pension fund will also invest $200 million into the firm’s Residential Mortgage Fund II, which will invest in the U.S. mortgage industry.

The pension fund will also invest about $10 million into CBRE’s French Logistics Feeder, another real estate investment vehicle. The pension fund last year committed over $100 million to the investment pool, according to IP&E.

On top of it’s real estate investments, the retirement system will inject $150 million into the Global Energy & Power Infrastructure Fund III.

American public pension funds have increased their real estate investments by a measure of six times between 2006 and 2016. [] The funds are now seeking riskier, more opportunistic real estate deals as a means of closing funding gaps.

Manhattan real estate has been a target of public pension funds, but the strategy has not been adopted by New York City’s retirement systems. Instead, the city invested $4 billion of its pension funds into climate change solutions.


This Week in Miami Real Estate: Q1 sales, remote notary and more

Monday, May 20, 2019

First quarter condo sales grow in Miami

Condo sales that closed during the first quarter of the year within Miami-Dade County were up incrementally on an annual basis, according to the latest market data from the Miami Association of Realtors. Total condo closings in the first three months of the year came in just shy of 3,000 in Miami-Dade County, a 0.8 percent increase from Q1 2018. However, overall closed sales were down 1.9 percent on the year, pulled lower by a 4.9 percent drop in single-family sales. Total sales volume in the area still grew marginally, finishing the quarter at $2.7 billion. Median prices for both property types also rose by around 4 percent each.

Across the U.S., total home sales (including single-family homes and condo units) were down 5.4 percent from a year earlier, but 1.2 percent above levels seen in Q4 2018.

Top ONE SIR team joins Compass

The Alex & Joe Team, formerly part of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, announced their move to Compass Florida’s Miami Beach office in a May 13 press release. Comprised of 14 agents and led by Alex Miranda and Joe Padula, The Alex & Joe Team were the No. 1 top-producing team of ONE SIR in 2017 and ranked No. 2 in 2018. They join Compass with another recently relocated ONE SIR team: The Cherry Group, led by Sylvia Cherry and Gary Hecht, who are now based out of Compass’s Coconut Grove office.

Coldwell Banker names new field marketing manager

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate named Lauren Johnson the new field marketing manager of its southeast Florida region, according to a May 15 press release. Johnson joins the brokerage with 19 years of marketing experience, most recently at her own corporate communications firm where she specialized in working with clients including Fortune 500 builders and real estate developers. Johnson will provide CBRRE’s 19 offices in the southeast Florida region (totaling some 2,000 agents) with marketing assistance.

Florida may become latest state to legalize remote notary

The Florida legislature passed a measure this week that would make the state the latest to legalize electronic notarizations for transactions including real estate sales. If Governor Ron DeSantis signs the bill into law, it would allow residential and commercial real estate transactions to be closed via an online notary system, rather than require an in-person closing to be attended by a notary public. Proponents of the bill say it could encourage further investment in Florida real estate, particularly from foreign buyers. Virginia was the first state to legalize digital notary services in 2011, however it wasn’t until 2017 that a residential mortgage closing was performed via remote notary, for a home in Illinois.

Two Realtor groups merge in Broward

Two existing Realtor associations based in Broward County have agreed to merge, according to a May 14 press release. The Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale (RAPB + GFLR) agreed to join forces with the South Broward Board of Realtors (SBBOR). The combined association will include an estimated 33,000 Realtors and an MLS of 57,000 active listings as of May 14.


Energy-saving solutions let homeowners cut costs while helping the environment

Thursday, May 16, 2019

You probably have a rough idea of how much energy and water your home uses, based on your utility bills.

But new technologies aim to turn the tables, letting you see just how much in resources you are using in advance of those bills so that your bottom line is lower. And that goes for everything from everyday appliances to your sprinkler system.

If you want to get smart about your home's energy efficiency, perhaps it's time to upgrade.

Making smart upgrades in a home — electricity, water usage, heating and air-conditioning — could save a homeowner from 5% to 30% on annual utility bills, according to

There are a variety of in-home technology products that will save a homeowner money on their utility bills and help the environment at the same time. These technologies aim to help conserve resources — and potentially save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in unanticipated costs.

Flo Technologies

The idea for Flo Technologies' products was inspired by a disaster.

Company CEO Gabriel Halimi's family had catastrophic water damage to their home, which resulted in a $300,000 insurance claim. Some of the losses, such as family heirlooms, were irreplaceable.

Halimi's father, Henry, a mechanical engineer by training, was inspired to come up with a solution. The result is the company's water monitoring and control technology for the home.

The technology is installed on the home's main water supply. It works by tracking the flow, temperature and pressure of your home's water system. Some insurance plans will give you a rebate for using the technology, Halimi said.

It also shows you in real time via an app how much water you're using. If your water usage requires attention, it can also send push notifications, text messages or emails. If you don't respond, it can call you by phone.

The technology can turn off your water in severe situations. You can also turn it off yourself by pushing a button.

The key to the technology is that it can help a homeowner save by alerting them to a problem that needs to be addressed that they might not know about, like a broken sprinkler or water pipe.

"Unless you have something like this, you have no way of knowing between the times that you get your water bill that you have something wrong with your home," Halimi said.

The product sells for $499, plus the cost of having a plumber install it.


Another company, called Sense, also lets you monitor your home remotely via an app, but this one is for electricity usage.

The technology works through a home monitor that helps to identify the biggest energy drains. The technology is installed inside the electrical panel in your home. It then lets you measure how much energy is used in real time.

That can be especially convenient if you're away from home. If you have a vacation house, for example, you can see if the hot tub has been shut off.

The technology can also identify which routine appliances are driving up your energy bills. Old refrigerators or TVs are typically some of the big culprits, according to Mike Phillips, co-founder and CEO of Sense.

Switching from incandescent lights to LED lights is another big energy saver, he said. In a large house that had not yet changed over to LEDs, the move could save about $500 per year, Phillips estimated.

The average annual energy bill for a typical single-family home is about $2,060, according to Energy Star, a government-run program. Heating and electronics account for about half of those costs.

If you do a home-energy audit, you can shave an average of $105 to $627 off your annual utility bills, according to estimates from the Department of Energy.

Sense's technology costs $299 for the hardware and access to its applications. You also have to pay to have an electrician install it.

The technology can help you eliminate energy guzzlers and troubleshoot for possible new drains that could drive up your bills, Phillips said.

"It's all of these bits of visibility into what's going on in your home that you just didn't have visibility into before," Phillips said.

If you're still using an old sprinkler system, you could be wasting water — and paying an unnecessarily high water bill.

Rachio, a smart sprinkler company, offers technology that is installed directly into your home irrigation system. Once the hardware is in place, you can connect to it through your Wi-Fi.

From there, you can control how the different zones of your lawn are watered. If you have tomato plants or a section of your lawn you want watered more frequently, for example, you can program the system to make those areas a priority.

Rachio's technology gives you a few options for scheduling your lawn's watering.

A fixed schedule lets you schedule watering on certain days, at certain times, for certain lengths of times and in certain areas of your lawn.

A flexible monthly schedule lets you schedule your watering for every month, based on climate data and your geographic location. A flexible daily schedule updates every day based on the soil's moisture.

Through an app, you can control the system remotely. That means you can check your phone to track your water usage, skip a scheduled watering or turn your sprinklers on.

The system is voice-enabled, so you can ask Google or Alexa to turn off the sprinkler if you have visitors coming and you do not want them to get drenched.

The company recently launched its third-generation product. The price ranges from $229.99 to $279.99, based on how many zones you want it to cover.

The company estimates its customers have saved more than 36 billion gallons of water. That can lead to lower water bills. Some municipalities will offer a rebate for purchase of the product.

"Across the board, all of our customers are seeing some sort of savings after using Rachio," a company spokeswoman said.


What agents need to know about coastal flood risks and solutions

Thursday, May 16, 2019

If you’re a real estate agent, there are many perks of selling a coastal home to a consumer, whether if it’s a rental or a permanent residence. But, there are many considerations that should be rendered to the consumer beforehand, so they can have full disclosure on their home investment. Let’s review the considerations for agents when informing consumers in the middle of the buying process.

Flood insurance risk

A FEMA study last year shows that 41 million Americans are at risk of flooding, more than three times the current estimate. The effects of recent hurricanes, such as Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, only shine a brighter light on weather-related issues for residents in coastal communities. In fact, about one in 10 homes had flood insurance in counties hit by Hurricane Florence and FEMA grants only cover $33,000 in damages from flooding under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Today, FEMA is looking to reform the NFIP with the intent to better reflect a coastal property’s flood risk. The way flood insurance premiums are structured now under the NFIP is based on a Flood Insurance Rate Map Zone and Base Flood Elevation. Risk-Rating 2.0, the name of the NFIP’s redesign of flood insurance rates, will also factor in characteristics such as the distance a building is from the coast, logical rating-variables like different types of flood or the cost to rebuild a home.

In the instance coastal properties are hit by another major weather event like Hurricane Florence or Michael that pounded Florida’s Panhandle last fall, homeowners will not be able to repair their home without lifting it first per the 50 Percent Rule. The guidelines state that a building must be elevated and brought into compliance if damaged by any cause for which the repair costs are 50 percent or more of the value of the building, and the building is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This could have detrimental impacts for families living on the coast who don’t possess the financial resources to pay for the damages to their property on top of lifting it after a storm.

Weather threats on coastal properties

Extreme weather events are getting worse for coastal residents nationwide and it will be the residents who purchase these homes who will run the risk of experiencing damaging weather events as they’re starting off on a higher baseline than they were 20 years ago. With properties becoming more vulnerable, housing costs have risen 11.5 percent over the last three years in North Carolina’s Outer Banks and more than 60 percent in Miami beach year over year during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Yet, the few financial barriers to making a coastal move are enticing homeowners to take a leap of faith, which is a sales opportunity for coastal real estate brokers. However, the greater intensity and consistency of weather-related events, especially on the Gulf Coast in the past year will still be a talking point that agents must address directly.

Nevertheless, consumers should be in the know about the growing threat of climate-related damage on their pocketbooks. In other words, as the waterfront lifestyle is appealing to many, it’s crucial to be aware of the hidden (or not so hidden) costs down the road is disaster strikes.

Advice for coastal agents to present to buyers

There is no question that it is a buyer’s market in real estate, but real estate agents within the industry need to keep the mindset of information being the focal point of consumer interaction. Here are a few tips for agents to keep in mind:

  1. Search for private flood insurance options

The NFIP will not fully cover damages in the event of a weather-related disaster to your home. Thus, I strongly suggest purchasing private flood insurance that supplements your coverage if you get NFIP insurance first. Waiting for reform on the national level is not a smart investment.

  1. Know your flood zone and the 50 Percent Rule

It’s essential to understand before a buyer signs all the documents if their property is in a SFHA. If not, they won’t need to harbor the expense of lifting their home, along with rebuilding it if serious damage is inflicted on their property.

  1. Define weather-related incidents and home alternatives

If a homeowner purchases a one-story home in a flood zone, it would be wise to give the option for them to raise their home. If the home is above the floodplain, it is no longer bound by the 50 Percent Rule.


Real Estate in Brief: Trump at NAR, Redfin-RE/MAX split and more

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

President Trump to speak at NAR conference

The National Association of Realtors announced in a May 12 press release that President Donald Trump would address attendees of its Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. this week. While NAR said it invites the president to each of its annual legislative meetings, President Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to speak at an NAR meeting since George W. Bush in 2005.

“We welcome the President of the United States to our conference,” the association said in a separate FAQ document. “We believe a sitting U.S. President’s involvement in our conference underscores the importance of real estate and the role Realtors play in selling the American Dream of homeownership.”

It went on to clarify that NAR’s invitation and President Trump’s appearance did not constitute an endorsement of the president’s ongoing re-election campaign, nor did NAR plan to donate to the campaign.

Redfin-RE/MAX partnership ends abruptly

Barely two months after announcing the start of an exclusive referral partnership, RE/MAX and Redfin now say they are terminating the arrangement. According to RISMedia, RE/MAX chose to pull out of the deal after it “developed concerns” about another service just announced by Redfin, Redfin Direct, that threatens to reduce the role of the buyer’s agent in a home transaction.

“Given Redfin’s recent announcement regarding a program that would encourage buyers not to use agents on listings where the seller is represented by Redfin, we cannot continue with an official, corporate-level relationship at this time,” RE/MAX said in a May 13 statement, according to RISMedia. “We have begun the process of dissolving our exclusive referral agreement with them beginning today.”

Redfin’s response essentially affirmed that characterization of Redfin Direct.

“Redfin understands this concern, as we employ thousands of licensed professionals and believe the vast majority of homebuyers need professional advice, and will happily pay for it,” the company wrote in response to RE/MAX. “But we also have a duty to get as many offers for our customers’ listings as we possibly can, and to give those listing customers the best value. We believe in consumer choices; our mission is to redefine real estate in consumers’ favor.”

Zillow CEO voices optimism on iBuyer model

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, newly appointed CEO of Zillow Group, Rich Barton, discussed in detail his thoughts on the modern real estate industry and his company’s growing role within it. Barton was named CEO of Zillow in February after having previously served in the same role more than a decade earlier. (He co-founded Zillow in 2005 but left his position of executive chairman in 2010.) Before his time at the real estate startup that has emerged as a key player in the industry, Barton helped launch Expedia in 1999.

Speaking with the Journal about his history with the company and its future, Barton said Zillow’s iBuyer platform, Zillow Offers, didn’t represent an attempt to compete with or replace traditional real estate agents. Instead, Barton said Zillow could “hand off” sellers to partner agents in the event a homeowner chose not to accept Zillow’s offer on his or her property.

“We actually think this increases the size of our traditional business,” Barton said.

Zillow hopes annual revenue from its Offers business will grow to $20 billion within the next five years. While a portion of that revenue would come from fees charged on each transaction, the bulk of its potential is predicated on home prices remaining historically high. Barton said that he doesn’t worry about Zillow getting “caught holding a lot of houses in a down market” because it can always respond by increasing fees. The company continues to test the financial viability of the Zillow Offers model using both historical models of home price behavior as well as real-world testing in the handful of markets where the service is currently available.

NAR advises members on pending class-action lawsuits

Last week, the National Association of Realtors released a series of FAQs related to Moehrl v. NAR et al., one of three similar class-action lawsuits pending in U.S. Federal court that have received considerable media attention. In it, NAR acknowledges that the lawsuit and other related cases are only expanding in scope, most recently having grown to encompass four MLSs in Missouri.

The FAQ also advises Realtors on the key issues at hand in the lawsuits, as well as how agents can address the situation with clients.

“Brokers and agents are encouraged to have transparent conversations with current and prospective clients about the services they will provide and how they will get paid for those services. This lawsuit doesn’t change that,” NAR wrote in the FAQ.

The original complaint in the case was filed by Minnesota resident Christopher Moehrl and names multiple defendants including Realogy, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams, in addition to NAR and numerous MLSs throughout the U.S. The plaintiffs allege NAR, MLS operators and real estate brokers have been conspiring to artificially inflate commissions paid by home sellers, in violation of federal antitrust laws.

“We won’t speculate on what may or may not happen,” the FAQ concluded. “What we can tell you is how confident we are in our position about the clear pro-competitive, pro-consumer benefits of the MLS system.”

GSE refinancing crackdown begins with VA lenders

The Department of Veterans Affairs issued federal subpoenas to at least eight mortgage lenders in what could be the start of a broader effort to curtail excessively risky lending through government-backed mortgage programs. Politico reported May 7 that the lenders subpoenaed were suspected of engaging in a practice called “churning,” in which the same property is refinanced multiple times in quick succession. The process could be aided under certain government lending programs, including VA and FHA loans, which in some cases will approve a government-backed loan refinance without requiring a home appraisal or inspection. Federal agencies that offer mortgage guarantees, like the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (which administers FHA loans) have recently worked to curtail these forms of refinancing as well as other types of loans considered very risky.


How to make the most out of networking events

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Beth Butler has been working in the real estate industry for many years. And even as President of Compass Miami with more than 500 agents, she still takes the time to attend a variety of networking events each month.

“In management, it’s still important for any leader, whether they lead an office or lead an entire organization, to be visible out in the market area,” she said. “It’s your reputation and brand, and networking is an essential part for anybody in the real estate world.”

In real estate, networking can be the catalyst to finding more involvement in the community, building lasting relationships and hopefully increasing your referrals. Kimmylea Taylor, owner and designer of LimeLight Expressions in Omaha, has been creating networking events for years for companies, from big galas to small affairs. But she understands the particular need for real estate agents and brokers to attend such events, as she has designed networking events for NP Dodge, one of the largest real estate companies in her city, for the last nine years.

“As a real estate professional, you need to get your name out there,” Taylor said.

The importance of non-real estate contacts

While it’s important to get to know other agents and brokers in your community, meeting and building relationships with the home inspectors, tax attorneys, lenders and other industry professionals at events can help you serve your clients. Butler chooses a few events to attend each year — especially those sponsored by a local Realtor association — so she can connect with people in the business.

“There is no limit to the events being put on in the Miami area,” Butler said. “But you just have to pick a few that sound interesting to you. I may go to an event to support an agent or go to one that I know there will be an interesting discussion going on.”

Butler also suggests not going to just networking events full of a lot of real estate agents. “It’s nice sometimes being the only real estate agent in the room.”

It’s all about making choices. When you have young children at home, real estate can be tough profession. There’s always that balance you need to work out. That’s why she says Business Network Institute (BNI) has worked well for about 20 of her agents, most of whom each belong to a different group within the organization. Only one person from each profession specialty is allowed to join a chapter of BNI, eliminating the possibility of competition. Many of them meet for early morning meetings and refer each other to their own clients or friends and family.

More than just business

Networking is not just about building up a list of professionals who can help your clients. Real estate networking events can run the gamut from a small gathering for coffee to a big conference with speakers and activities. It’s important to choose events carefully and tailor them to your business goals.

Everyone is busy these days, so it’s important to see networking events as not only a chance to meet new people, but also an opportunity to unwind and enjoy one’s community. Many of the business events Taylor has been planning recently have become family-friendly, as more young professionals want to also spend time with spouses and young children.

“The more family-friendly people make it, the more people love it. We have had magicians, balloon artists, face painters, a lasso guy, bonfires, raffle prizes and more,” she said.

Taylor noted similar successes with networking events that also benefit local charities. “It’s all about giving back to the community,” she said. “It’s a great way to help others out while socializing and building your circle.”

Be realistic about goals

If you’re at a big event with hundreds of people, it won’t really benefit you or your business to try to meet everyone. Darrah Brustein is the founder of Network Under 40, a company based in Atlanta that puts on variety of networking events that range from intimate dining to more than 500 people at one gathering. She advised real estate professionals to focus on quality rather than quantity.

“If you talk to three to five people and have meaningful conversations, that’s better than trying desperately to meet everyone,” she said.

Brustein said her best advice is to never go to a networking event looking for client. “You need to go with the outlook of how you can help other people,” she said. “Start a relationship, and look for partnerships. They are more fruitful. People will open many doors for you over time if you have a mutual relationship. Don’t go to a networking event trying to sell something.”

Real conversations

While many assume networking events are for extroverts, there’s a secret weapon that introverts bring to the networking table.

“Introverts ask great questions,” she said. “If you listen more, you will build rapport.”

Butler says that if you want to network, find a place that you have a natural interest in.

“When my son was younger, I was in the PTA. I loved volunteering for them. It benefitted my career, but I didn’t get into it for the business,” she said.

In fact, Brustein advised real estate professionals throw out some of the traditional networking activities in order to build better relationships. Start out by simply sharing your name, she said, but don’t offer a title until someone asks you. She also advised against quickly asking what someone else does, as this can make the conversation feel overtly transactional . Finally, only give business cards out if someone asks for one. Wait until you actually make a connection, and use the card as a catalyst to continue a conversation or relationship.

Making the event worth your time

After you’ve thought about your goals for the event, it can be a whole different ball game when it comes to putting your plan into action. Taylor said she has watched people wander around the room or stand in the corner by themselves.

“You have to go up and introduce yourself. You never know where that will lead,” she said.

It may be tempting to show up fashionably late, but Brustein suggested arriving within the first hour of event. Perhaps surprisingly, she said promptness is especially important for a looser event such as a happy hour. This way attendees are still fresh and not already heading out the door.

If you’re not sure where to stand, Brustein offered a few suggestions, such as strategically placing yourself kitty-corner from the bar or buffet table. This means you’re in the perfect spot for someone to turn toward once they get their drink or food. Often, she said, people are thankful there is someone there to talk to right away. You can also sit at an empty table, and people may come to you because they don’t know many people either. But make sure you don’t stare into your phone at that empty table, as this puts up a subtle “do not disturb” sign to other attendees.


Boosting the middle class through smarter housing policy

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The American middle class is considered a crucial demographic in the political, economic and social sense. But defining who, or what, is middle-class has never been easy for experts or ordinary people. Most Americans consider themselves middle-class, even if their income, wealth or social status lie nowhere near the statistical middle. Some economists like to refer to a decidedly non-economic definition of a middle-class household: any household with two refrigerators — a new one in the kitchen and an older one in the basement or garage, where beer is stored.

A new study from the Brookings Institution’s Future of the Middle Class initiative defines this all-important demographic as the three middle quintiles (or fifths) of Americans sorted by income. From here, the paper by research fellow Jenny Schuetz goes on to make a few surprising conclusions about America’s middle class and its experience in the housing market.

One conclusion isn’t what we might first assume: Even as home prices and rents across the U.S. have risen faster than incomes for much of the 21st century, most of the middle-class isn’t feeling particularly squeezed by housing costs. However, affordability is a much more urgent problem within certain subgroups that comprise the middle-class. In particular, members of the lower middle-class quintile are spending about 40 percent of their income on rent or mortgage payments, above the 30 percent threshold that most consider affordable. More middle-class families with children report crowded home conditions, in which more than two people per bedroom occupy a household. Finally, a large swath of middle-class households, according to the Brookings report, experience longer than average commute times. Across all three middle-income quintiles, around 10 percent of workers in high-cost metros say they deal with commutes in excess of one hour, ostensibly because they live in more affordable suburbs. Moreover, affordability worsens when examined along more predictable racial and other demographic lines.

“It’s not that we haven’t known this is a problem,” Schuetz said when presenting her findings at a seminar in Washington, D.C., May 8. “It’s just that the politics turn out to be a little more difficult than many realize.”

Why middle-class housing inequality is a tough fix

Cost, crowding and commutes have long been issues that middle-class households struggle with, and solutions to these and related affordability problems have long been a facet of political platforms on both sides of the ideological spectrum. So why haven’t they been addressed in any meaningful way, generations after the middle-class became the driving force behind civilian life in America?

A key issue, and the most obvious area for improvement, Schuetz said, is the numerous policies that empower homeowners politically and financially. By contrast, renters are often excluded from, or negatively impacted by, those same policies.

“Many homeowners with excess space have built up a lot of wealth, but they are resistant to allow new development that will reduce the value of their home or simply change the neighborhood,” Schuetz said.

But solving the affordability problem among the middle-class doesn’t have to come at the expense of homeowners. Schuetz pointed out that even among the cost-burdened lower middle-class, the difference between affordability and un-affordability is the equivalent of about $100 dollars per month, on average. Therefore, it would take only modest increases in income, or modest reductions in living expenses, to level the playing field. On the income side of the equation, Scheutz suggests expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to cover workers in the lower middle-class. On the other side, the government could offer incentives for reducing energy consumption that would simultaneously lower housing costs, or create a “forced savings mechanism” for renters that mirrors the wealth-building power of home equity.

“There are wide variations in the kind of housing challenges faced by middle class families – by metro area, race, income level and family type,” Schuetz wrote. “Policies to reduce housing stress are available, but will have to be carefully designed and implemented.”


This Week in Miami Real Estate: Housing demand, MLS changes and more

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Miami needs 50,000 homes to meet housing demand

Miami needs to build or conserve at least 50,000 housing units in order to meet the existing need, according to The Connect Capital Miami Report. The report also found that 71 percent of people in Miami are renters and 61 percent of them are cost burdened and spend more than 30 percent of their household income on housing. The report gave development criteria as guidelines for the building and preserving of affordable housing, like incorporating support services and taking environmental sustainability into consideration. It suggested city leaders redevelop public housing, change the zoning code, reduce property taxes and consider a a vacancy fee. The report listed a goal of creating or preserving 12,000 affordable housing units by 2024.

Simmonds and Snyder teams joining Compass

The Simmonds Team and the Snyder Group will be joining Compass’s Palm Beach office. The Simmonds Team, led by Amy and John Simmonds, was ranked in the top one percent of sales agents in the country at Keller Williams. The Snyder Group, led by Dylan Snyder, was named one of Keller Williams Top 50 teams nationwide and was the top producing luxury team in Jupiter, according to a press release.

Florida MLS becomes ‘Stellar MLS’ in June

My Florida Regional MLS, the nation’s third-largest multiple listing service, will rebrand as Stellar MLS on June 4, 2019. As part of the rebranding, the new service will be upgrading its education platform to include a “recommended training curriculum” and implementing a new email marketing platform. Stellar is currently involved in the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) and offers a RESO Compliant Web API, according to a press release.


Has #MeToo changed real estate?

Monday, May 13, 2019

The sexual misconduct allegations against Richard Meier offer a telling case study for the #MeToo movement.

In many ways, the mixed messages the case sent is indicative of how the movement has unfolded in the New York City real estate industry over the last year and a half.

Related: Reinvention acts

On the one hand, real estate firms are taking sexual harassment more seriously — not only because they’ve been forced to comply with new legislation, but also because they’re protecting themselves from financial liability. But on the other hand, cultural changes at some firms have been limited.

For Meier — who was accused by multiple former female employees and another woman of exposing himself to them and unwanted touching, among other things — there was short-term backlash. Cornell University rejected his endowment for a professorship, Sotheby’s auction house canceled a planned exhibit of his work, and GID Development quietly removed his picture from marketing materials for Waterline Square, a residential megaproject on Manhattan’s West Side where he designed one of three condo towers.

Then in October 2018, after a six-month leave of absence from his eponymous firm, it was widely reported that Meier would step down.

But that never happened. He remains a partner at the company and makes biweekly appearances in the Midtown office, though the company has set up an anonymous hot-line and made other internal changes.

“There are future generations of architects, female and male, to consider, who will be taking cues from how people let these people off easy,” said Stella Lee, one of Meier’s first accusers.

How easy remains to be seen. With this new heightened awareness about appropriate workplace behavior, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw sexual harassment complaints jump 12 percent in both New York and nationally from 2017 to 2018.

To get a better understanding of what changes real estate firms have made since Harvey Weinstein’s case broke open the #MeToo movement in 2017, The Real Deal reached out to more than 50 of New York City’s biggest commercial and residential brokerages and most active developers. We’ve also talked to high-ranking women since 2017 who’ve opted to stay silent about #MeToo moments, saying there’s a real risk of getting blacklisted in the industry and seeing their careers derailed.

Some firms acknowledged that the movement has prompted changes in policy. Others refused to discuss the subject, only saying that they’ve always had policies in place — or haven’t seen a need to revisit them.

“I think at all companies, including ours, collective awareness has been heightened with these stories,” said Darcy Mackay, CBRE’s chief of human resources. “It’s hard to be exempt from that.”


Bargain beacons? Coast Guard offers Florida lighthouses as free fixer-uppers

Monday, May 13, 2019

The feds are offering four Florida lighthouses free of charge to qualified entities. The catch? New owners may have to spend seven-figure sums to make them habitable and operable.

The Coast Guard is offering four historic Florida lighthouses built before and after the Civil War, according to the New York Post. Each structure would cost an estimated $2 million to $3 million to restore it to full functionality, according to Eric Martin, president of the Florida Keys Lights Foundation.

If the Coast Guard is unable to give away the lighthouses to an eligible entity such as a non-profit group or educational organization, ownership could be transferred in a public auction.

Martin said if a lighthouse preservation group like his fails to take ownership of the Florida lighthouses, they could be converted to a commercial use such as a bed-and-breakfast resort.


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