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Will rent control dent the multifamily market? Lenders, investors weigh in

From left: Gavin Newsom and David Chiu (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)
From left: Gavin Newsom and David Chiu (Credit: Getty Images and iStock) Ben Lamson, the founder of Bluestar Properties, has been a real estate investor, owner and manager in the Inland Empire for three decades. But California’s march toward a landmark rent-control law served as his eviction notice. Lamson sold his $15 million portfolio of apartment buildings in a swath of Southern California that extends from Victorville and Lake Elsinore to Long Beach and Torrance. He’s packing up and moving to Nevada, making property investments in what he described as a “friendlier state.” “They are all sold and gone,” said Lamson of his California portfolio. “You can raise rents but money goes out the other side. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the rent control legislation.” On Oct. 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1482, which sets rent caps and implements “just cause” eviction rules, making...
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Stanley Black says longtime partner bilked him out of millions

From left: Robert Barth and Stanley Black with 840 Greenway Drive (Credit: Getty Images and Zillow)
From left: Robert Barth and Stanley Black with 840 Greenway Drive (Credit: Getty Images and Zillow) Prominent real estate investor Stanley Black is suing his business partner of 34 years, Robert Barth, claiming Barth defrauded him out of $8 million in a Beverly Hills mansion sale. Black filed the explosive lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging Barth concocted an elaborate scheme to siphon millions of dollars for himself through a maze of limited liability companies. Black founded Beverly Hills-based Black Equities Group in 1985 along with his son Jack and brought Barth on board as CEO. The partners grew the firm into one of the country’s biggest commercial and residential real estate investors, with over 18 million square feet of property across the U.S. However, the lawsuit charges would appear to strain, if not immediately destroy, their longtime partnership. According to the complaint, Black says that he and...
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Can influencers and college students save Greenland’s Metropolis?

Greenland Holdings has already decided to sell one downtown Los Angeles Metropolis tower and convert another into apartments, as it struggles to sell two others.
Greenland USA’s vice president of sales and marketing Kimberly Lucero
The Agency’s Mike Leipart (Credit: The Agency Creates)
Greenland president Zhang Yuliang
The Metropolis towers
The pool at Metropolis

“Dianne and Jim's" living room
Greenland Holdings has already decided to sell one downtown Los Angeles Metropolis tower and convert another into apartments, as it struggles to sell two others. It was two days before Halloween, and for Kimberly Lucero that meant a sales opportunity. Sporting a gothic dress, princess crown, ruby ring, and spider necklace with blood red paint on her chest and forehead, Greenland USA’s vice president of sales and marketing conducted a condominium tour. Lucero was showcasing units on the 12th floor of one of four towers that make up the Metropolis project, a 3.3-million-square-foot development three blocks south of the Staples Center that has reshaped the downtown Los Angeles skyline. Before Lucero came on board in May, Greenland largely sold units to Chinese buyers, but that pool has shrunk dramatically. “We had a good majority of international buyers,” Lucero said. “Then, it kind of shifted, and we started having a lot of...
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Mr. Hadid: Tear down that mansion, judge rules

Mohamed Hadid and his spec mansion (Credit: Getty Images)
Mohamed Hadid and his spec mansion (Credit: Getty Images) A Santa Monica judge has ordered Mohamed Hadid’s Bel Air “Starship Enterprise” spec mansion demolished to its foundation slab and put into receivership. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan ruled from the bench Wednesday that Hadid must tear down his illegally built creation, siding with a plaintiff group of Bel Air neighbors led by Judith and John Bedrosian. The demolition order, which TMZ first reported, might be the beginning of the end for Hadid’s 30,000-square foot home at 901 Strada Vecchia that has triggered not just multiple lawsuits, but also a criminal case and FBI probe. Karlan’s ruling comes a few weeks after City Attorney Mike Feuer also demanded the building torn down in a simultaneous criminal case against Hadid. A Van Nuys criminal court judge has yet to rule on Feuer’s request, and it is not clear how the...
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Is real estate’s Bitcoin buzz just getting started?






The real estate industry — much like the rest of the world — is still trying to figure out exactly how its connection to cryptocurrency should work. Since virtual money first broke through a decade ago, with the launch of Bitcoin, buyers and sellers of property are increasingly using crypto as a form of payment. And the range of digital coins has exploded in recent years, with about 3,000 different types being traded as of October, some specific to real estate. It’s a roller coaster ride for big-time crypto owners, to say the least. The entire cryptocurrency market was worth an estimated $222 billion as of mid-November, down dramatically from its market cap of about $830 billion at the beginning of last year. The digital currency units are decentralized and encrypted — and bypass standard financial institutions — which has been a big part of their draw, despite that drop. Some...
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Here are LA’s biggest office leases of 2019

1200 W. 7th Street and 5750 Wilshire Boulevard (Credit: Google Maps)
1200 W. 7th Street and 5750 Wilshire Boulevard (Credit: Google Maps) Here’s what continued to drive the Los Angeles office leasing market in 2019: Technology, co-working, media and entertainment firms. But it was an outlier that snagged the biggest single deal of the year, according to The Real Deal’s analysis. L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s biggest publicly-operated health plan, signed the large office lease of the year. The firm consolidated several offices into a single lease, inking a deal at Rising Realty Partners’ downtown building for more than 370,000 square feet. Other big L.A. leases included WeWork, whose July deal at the Wilshire Courtyard close just before the company’s descent; the Walt Disney Company, Union Bank and cannabis tech firm Ghost Management. The tech sector especially has been a big winner in the leasing race in 2019. For the first three quarters of the year, tech firms signed 1.6 million square...
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Yes, these North Pole houses really are for sale

1068 North Old Steese Highway and 3660 Regius Avenue (Credit: iStock)
1068 North Old Steese Highway and 3660 Regius Avenue (Credit: iStock) At Christmastime, real estate brokers and investors alike turn their thoughts to the North Pole. Sure, it’s cold there, really cold and full of snow, but Amazon does deliver, we think. Santa, however, does not live in this North Pole. In fact, this North Pole is in Alaska, and is about 1,000 miles south of the actual North Pole, which is somewhere in the Arctic Ocean. But all the same, this North Pole, just outside of Fairbanks and with a population of over 2,000, possesses the world’s largest fiberglass statue of the jolly man himself. It also has more than 370 homes on the market — all for under $500,000 — including one that can be rented through Airbnb. There is only a 20 percent chance of snow on Christmas Day, and the temperature is expected to hover at around...
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RE data startup CrediFi to shut down following failed sale

Credifi CEO Ely Razin (Credit: iStock)
Credifi CEO Ely Razin (Credit: iStock) CrediFi, a venture-backed startup that jostled for supremacy in the commercial real estate data and analytics space, is shutting down, The Real Deal has learned. Employees at the startup, which has raised $29 million to date, were informed of the company’s decision to close on Tuesday, according to sources. A meeting was held at the company’s Tel Aviv headquarters, and employees in the New York office were informed via a virtual meeting. The company, led by CEO Ely Razin, had been in talks to sell to firms including Moody’s — which has been ramping up its real-estate data business — but no deal ever went through, according to a senior employee, whose account was later confirmed by sources familiar with the talks. CrediFi had laid off a large chunk of its workforce in June, and also lost the company president, Jeff Hendren. Reached by phone...
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Here are the biggest LA hotel sales of 2019

The sale of the Ace Hotel was the biggest L.A. County hotel buy in 2019 (Credit: Google Maps)
The Ace Hotel, at right, was sold in November for $117 million. (Credit: Google Maps) The upper-echelon of hotel sales in Los Angeles this year were more modest than in 2018 when two DoubleTree by Hilton hotels sold for at least $150 million. That is, until this week, when the 201-key Montage Beverly Hills hotel was sold to Qatar-backed Maybourne Hotel Group. Financial terms were not disclosed but the deal values the exclusive hotel at over $400 million, which would easily make it the priciest hotel sale in L.A. this year.  Before that, the splashiest hotel transactions of 2019 was the 92-year-old Ace Hotel in downtown, which actually changed hands twice during the year. Another notable development was that Blackstone Group unloaded two of the properties in The Real Deal’s ranking of the top five hotel sales of 2019, selling both properties to regional hotel investors. Here are the top five...
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A Christmas miracle? LA may loosen key Airbnb restriction

Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky in front of Los Angeles city hall (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)
Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky in front of Los Angeles city hall (Credit: Getty Images, iStock) Just in time for the holidays, Los Angeles may reverse a key element to its recently-adopted ordinance restricting Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms. The citywide ordinance, which took effect Nov. 1, bans short-term hosts from renting multiple residences . On Friday, the Planning Commission voted to allow a host to rent out a secondary residence, which the city defines as a “vacation home,” according to Curbed. But the proposal would also place limits on renting out those secondary residences. Those units could only be rented out for up to 90 days a year and short-term stays would be not allowed at rent-controlled buildings, Curbed reported. Also, the number of secondary residences be rented out could not exceed 1 percent of L.A.’s housing stock. The city said the move was an attempt to balance concerns...
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Nationwide overbuilding is causing rents in even the hottest markets to plummet, freeze


Nationwide overbuilding is causing rents in even the hottest markets to plummet, freeze Minuscule 0.5 percent gain in U.S. rents over July was the smallest increase since 2012 (Credit from left: Henk Monster, Wikimedia Foundation) Timing is everything. It’s a great time to be renting in America as a glut of new supply is causing rents across the country to take a nosedive. Meanwhile, the lag time between the planning and delivery of rental projects is hurting developers and landlords who are now feeling the crunch. But the signs were there for the past few years, as Zillow’s senior economist Aaron Terrazas explained to Bloomberg. “This is something that we first started to see two years ago in New York and D.C.,” he said. “A year ago, it was San Francisco and most recently, Seattle and Portland. It’s spreading through what once were the fastest growing rental markets.” Best case, rents...
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Madison Square Garden Co. accuses Inglewood mayor of “outrageous, fraudulent conduct”


Madison Square Garden Co. accuses Inglewood mayor of “outrageous, fraudulent conduct” The owner of The Forum is suing and holding the mayor personally liable for damages (Credit from left: Ritapepaj/Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons) The former home of the Lakers is taking issue with the Clippers trying to move in nearby. The owner of The Forum, Madison Square Garden Co., is accusing the city of Inglewood and mayor, James T. Butts Jr., of fraudulent behavior saying he convinced them to forgo buying a $6.9 million, 15-acre tract of land that executives later learned he was in talks to sell to the Clippers for a new stadium, according to the Daily Breeze. MSG said it didn’t pursue buying the land because company representatives believed the mayor was developing a technology park. The Forum’s termination agreement with the city specified that whatever development did go forward on the site, it would not be in...
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Meet the developers building the country’s wildest spec homes



Meet the developers building the country’s wildest spec homes “It’s a crazy business; you don’t do it unless you’re a little nuts." The “Billionaire” spec house in Bel Air and Bruce Makowsky (Credit: Makowsky via LA Times, Getty) Are you prepared to bet tens of millions of dollars on building outrageously lavish spec homes that you hope to sell for nine-figure sums? If the answer is yes, you’re part of a small and extremely quirky club. Despite murmurs of a slowdown at the top of the luxury market, a handful of Los Angeles developers are creating playgrounds for the ultra-wealthy with price tags of high as $500 million. It’s an extremely risky proposition – these builders risk being stuck with gilded, one-off properties that they’ve sunk substantial money into. The personalities and stories of these spec builders tend to be as colorful as the homes themselves. “It’s a crazy business,” Bruce Makowsky,...
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This week in celeb real estate: An $88M home comes to market, a plot with Hollywood history is for sale.. & more


This week in celeb real estate: An $88M home comes to market, a plot with Hollywood history is for sale.. & more Michael Palumbo, Gary L. Wilson and the guest house of 320 Delfern Drive (Credit: iStock, Pixabay) Sell, sell, sell. At least that’s what celebrities in Los Angeles are hoping for this week. Four lavish homes came on the market, ranging from new construction specs to residences rich in Hollywood history. The most expensive listing this week can be spotted in Bel Air, where a luxury spec home is under construction. Elite Investment Management is building the 19,000-square-foot mansion , listed at $88 million. Once completed, it will include a 1,700-gallon fish tank, wine and cigar lounge, 18-seat movie theater and even a waterfall. Architect Michael Palumbo designed the three-story house. Another yet-to-be-completed property hit the market nearby. A parcel of land adjacent to one of Holmby Hills’ grand estates...
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‘House of Sin’ party pad lists for $8.5M





‘House of Sin’ party pad lists for $8.5M Photog Richard Franklin shot celebs and 600 models there “House of Sin” (Jerrod Jones) A Hollywood Hills home designed with a playboy bachelor’s dreams in mind hit the market this week for $8.5 million. Nicknamed the “House of Sin,” the eight-story home on Sunset Plaza Drive, near the Bird Streets , is known for its eclectic and alluring decor.   The owner, photographer Richard Franklin, frequently worked on photoshoots at the home with celebrity clientele, such as Kim Kardashian, and more than 600 models, according to a spokesperson for Franklin.     Designed to accommodate an over-the-top party lifestyle, it features a rooftop pool and hot tub, an indoor spa, a dancing studio, a casino, and a black-light disco nightclub. The 5,332 square-foot house has five bedrooms and six bathrooms. The home was built in 1990. Franklin purchased it five years later for...
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City Council signs off on one-year pilot program for e-scooters


City Council signs off on one-year pilot program for e-scooters The decision follows new rules set by Santa Monica officials City Hall and Bird scooters (Credit: Wikimedia Commons) The Los Angeles City Council approved a pilot program for dockless scooters, further establishing the presence of startups like Bird and Lime in Southern California. The new set of regulations, which the council approved on Tuesday, will allow each company to launch 3,000 electric scooters and bikes, the Los Angeles Business Journal reported. They’ll also have the opportunity to launch another 2,500 in low-income neighborhoods, and up to 5,000 more in pockets of the San Fernando Valley. That amounts to a maximum of 10,500 vehicles per company, a drastic upgrade from when the City Council was considering a proposed citywide ban last month. While the final policies are being finalized, council members will have the flexibility to further regulate the companies. For example,...
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Mesirow Financial closes latest real estate fund at $567M


Mesirow Financial closes latest real estate fund at $567M The funding will help support investment for multifamily properties and student housing Mesirow Financial CEO Dominick Mondi and generic multifamily homes (Credit: Mesirow Financial and iStock) Mesirow Financial closed its Real Estate Value Fund III at $567 million, attracting commitments from institutional investors across the U.S., Europe and Australia. The fund is managed by Mesirow Financial’s Real Estate — Direct team, which focuses on the multifamily and student housing sectors in the United States, according to RE Journals. The closing follows two previous funding rounds that allowed the firm to acquire more than $1.6 billion in assets. The real estate investment team for Chicago-based Mesirow has raised $1.5 billion in equity over the past five years and has invested in nearly 13,000 multifamily units in 23 cities nationwide. Private real estate investment funds closed out the second quarter with the lowest fundraising...
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Video game publisher Nexon inks lease in El Segundo


Video game publisher Nexon inks lease in El Segundo Company is moving from Starwood's PCT to standalone creative office A rendering of the 621 Hawaii Street property (Source: Montana Avenue Capital Partners Video game publisher Nexon America is leaving Starwood’s PCT complex for a standalone office less than two miles away. The company signed a nine-year, 49,000-square-foot lease at 621 Hawaii Street, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal. The property includes a backyard, patios, video streaming rooms, video editing suites, and a 15,000-square-foot gaming area. The new office will be the company’s headquarters. It’s unclear how much square footage the company leased at PCT. The company laid off an undisclosed number of employees in February — up to a fifth of its workforce — according to sources cited by gamesindustry.biz. Nexon’s new landlord is Montana Avenue Capital Partners, a Santa Monica-based firm. Montana renovated the 53-year-old building as a creative...
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Tencent, Warburg Pincus are betting big on China’s housing market


Tencent, Warburg Pincus are betting big on China’s housing market The companies are investing $1.5B in a brokerage firm Tencent CEO Ma Huateng and the Beijing skyline (Credit: Getty Images and Francisco Anzola via Flickr) Chinese internet giant Tencent is betting $1 billion on one of the country’s largest brokerages. Beijing-based Lianjia is planning to raise about $2 billion from investors including Tencent and private equity firm Warburg Pincus, the Wall Street Journal reported. The fundraising round would value the company at roughly $13 billion. Warburg Pincus is investing $500 million, the report said. Sign up for China Watch for weekly emails on Chinese real estate investments. Lianjia, whose formal name is Homelink Real Estate Agency Co., has a website for sale and rental listings and also offers services including home decor and property management. It operates 8,000 retail outlets with brokerage services in 28 Chinese cities, and has close to...
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A market grows for entitled LA properties


330 N. Patton Street and Keller Williams Realty agent Shawn Kormondy (Credit: iStock) Go on, take the money and run. That was the temptation facing Thomas Agius, owner of a development property in Echo Park, after a two-year ordeal entitling it for a 32-unit multifamily development. A few years earlier, the developer had high hopes for the 11,200-square-foot piece of land. He planned to develop the apartment building on the site at N. Patton Street, with a mix of units that would each have their own balcony. But the grueling process to entitle the property took its toll. Agius is one of a number of developers in Los Angeles who are struggling with a sort of post-entitlement hangover that leaves them with little appetite to break ground. Thanks to a strong market for entitled properties, they have a way out — sell their shovel-ready, recently entitled sites to builders at a...
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