Ben Ashkenazy threatened to “go nuclear” on Century 21 family: lawsuit

first_imgShare via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink From left: Ben Ashkenazy, 1991 Broadway, 2067 Broadway and Samuel Gindi (Getty; Google Maps)UPDATED Dec. 22, 2020, 2 pm: Real estate developer Ben Ashkenazy told the family behind Century 21 that he would “go nuclear” on them for wrecking his business, according to a recent lawsuit.Ashkenazy and the Gindi family are in a heated legal battle over their joint investments in real estate. In the lawsuit, Isaac, Eddie and Raymond Gindi of ASG Equities allege the billionaire developer engaged in illegal conduct with their investments. The Gindis claim Ashkenazy owes them at least $21 million, according to the suit, filed in Manhattan, Crain’s reported.Ashkenazy, meanwhile, has his own lawsuit against the Gindis, accusing them of spreading rumors about him and misappropriating funds.The issue arose when Ashkenazy asked the Gindis to provide millions of dollars in cash to rescue their investment properties from possible bankruptcy, according to Crain’s. The Gindis refused to pay despite having a contractual agreement, according to Ashkenazy. But the Gindis allege that Ashkenazy never provided the financials of the properties.The family members, known for the Century 21 retail chain, which filed for bankruptcy in September, are investors in seven of Ashkenazy’s North American properties including four commercial units at 1991 Broadway, retail space at 2067 Broadway and a retail building in Queens.Ashkenazy allegedly told Raymond Gindi that he would “go nuclear if I need to because you destroyed my business,” according to the Gindis complaint.The Gindis also allege Ashkenazy misappropriated money and withheld shared profits, according to their lawsuit. This includes 1991 Broadway where Ashkenazy allegedly took $1 million of the Gindis’ investment that was overfunded and put it toward the acquisition of another building also owned by the Gindis, according to the complaint.Marc Kasowitz, an attorney for Ashkenazy Acquisition, said in a statement to The Real Deal, “Ashkenazy sued the Gindis because they failed to meet capital calls during the pandemic despite making millions in profits for many years prior to the pandemic. Now, the Gindis, whose main business is in bankruptcy, have filed counterclaims making completely unfounded excuses for their failure to pay. Their desperate claims will fail.”[Crain’s] — Keith LarsenThis story has been updated to include a statement from an attorney for Ashkenazy Acquisition.center_img Tagsben ashkenazyCommercial Real EstateReal Estate Lawsuitslast_img read more

Average size of home mortgage nears $400K

first_img(Getty)Applications for home loans fell last week as rates ticked up and the average loan size neared the $400,000 threshold.An index that tracks mortgage applications to buy homes dropped 4 percent, seasonally adjusted, from the prior week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s survey.The MBA metric, known as the purchase index, had reported week-over-week gains for the preceding two weeks.Read moreVicious cycle creates “huge supply crunch,” pushing home prices upForbearance rate stubborn among home-mortgage borrowersUS home prices surged 9.5% in November TagsHousing MarketMortgage RatesMortgagesResidential Real Estate Email Address* Message* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinkcenter_img Share via Shortlink Joel Kan, MBA’s head of industry forecasting, noted that the unadjusted volume of applications to buy homes was still up significantly year-over-year, tracking with the housing market’s ongoing strength.ADVERTISEMENTHe pointed to the average loan size as further evidence of strong buyer demand, despite last week’s dip. The average purchase loan rose to a record high of $395,200, up from $384,000 the week before.“The average purchase loan amount has steadily risen in line with the accelerating home-price appreciation occurring in most of the country,” said Kan, citing strong demand and extremely low inventory levels.Housing prices surged last year with existing homes closing 2020 with a median price of $309,800.Refinancing activity also dropped last week. MBA’s index following refinance requests fell by 5 percent last week. Kan attributed the decrease to mortgage rates increasing.The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 2.95 percent, up three basis points from 2.92 percent. The average jumbo rate went the other way, falling two basis points to 3.17 percent.Despite the slight increase, Kan said last week’s indices indicate that “borrowers are increasingly more sensitive to higher rates.”The MBA’s weekly survey tracks 75 percent of the residential mortgage market and has been running since 1990.Contact Erin Hudson Full Name*last_img read more

US needs 4M homes to meet demand from buyers

first_img Full Name* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink Message* Email Address* While demand for homes usually decreases during a recession, giving builders more time to build, the pandemic had the opposite effect. Some people fled the city, opting for more space where they could work remotely. The pandemic also led to supply chain delays that slowed down construction of new homes.Now, home builders would need to construct as many as 1.2 million single-family homes per year to meet long-term demand, a National Association of Home builders chief economist told the publication.The shortage is bad news for millennials: Homeownership rates are rising among those in that generation, generally viewed as those between the ages of 24 and 40, Business Insider reported. The millennial homeownership rate grew to 47.9 percent from 40 percent three years ago, according to Apartment List’s Homeownership report.Experts told Insider that the existing housing inventory could run out by May. Owners are holding on to their homes, worried they won’t be able to find an affordable replacement, the publication reported.[WSJ, Insider] — Cordilia JamesContact Cordilia James home salesHousing MarketResidential Real Estate Tags The housing market needs 3.8 million single-family homes to meet current demand (iStock)The U.S. is facing an unprecedented housing shortage — one that’s creating problems for millennials.The housing market needs 3.8 million single-family homes to meet current demand, according to an analysis by Freddie Mac, first reported by the Wall Street Journal. That’s 52 percent higher than 2018, when the mortgage company first began looking at housing shortages.While the shortage was exacerbated by pandemic-related moratoriums and investors turning starter homes into single-family rentals, the main problem stems from a lack of housing production over the past decade, according to the report.“This is what you get when you underbuild for 10 years,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economists.ADVERTISEMENTRead moreIt’s never been more expensive to buy a home in the US National home sales jump 20% in June There’s a scramble to refinance and buy new homes last_img read more

From slam dunk to junk: US developers face Israeli bond market reckoning

first_img all year managementisraeli bond marketTel Aviv Stock Exchange Tags (Getty images)About a decade ago, the Israeli bond market emerged as an attractive source of capital for U.S. real estate companies at a time when traditional sources of financing proved somewhat scarce.For U.S. firms, a corporate bond issuance in Israel provided the ability to raise debt without saddling a building with a mortgage, and at favorable interest rates compared to those available closer to home. For Israeli institutions with limited domestic investment opportunities, the bonds provided attractive returns.But the easy access to financing at low rates has also had a downside, as firms like Starwood Capital Group, Brookland Capital and Canada-based Urbancorp took on more than they could handle and defaulted on their debt.ADVERTISEMENTAnd after the latest scandal involving a U.S. real estate company — All Year Management — and the Israeli bond market, the Israel Securities Authority decided to take action. But is it too little, too late or is it too much?A proposed rule change that targets how mutual funds assess a company’s rating would effectively relegate foreign issuers — mostly American real estate firms — to junk bond status starting next year. With the vast majority of U.S.-issued Israeli bonds classified as junk, Israeli mutual funds would be forced to sell much of their holdings, increasing the cost of financing for American developers. It’s no surprise the industry has come out in opposition to the proposal.In a letter to the ISA, Israel’s Association of Mutual Fund Managers said the rule will “lead to a wave of bankruptcies of various companies due to the inability to refinance debt by those companies.”While noting that the attractiveness of the Israeli bond market derives from its liquidity and direct exposure to retail investors, an ISA spokesperson said the market also “needs to be highly supervised.” Its risk profile, she added, “is not appropriate for certain investors that have preferred to invest in solid funds.” The changes will take effect in January if finalized; interested parties have until April 21 to comment. Among U.S.-based firms that have issued bonds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the response has also been negative. “It paints all U.S. issuers with a bad brush because of poor behavior by three companies in total,” said Michael Shah of Delshah Capital, a New York developer that has issued three Israeli bond series since 2015. Shah said the firm has spent six years “being good borrowers and cultivating our relationship with the Israeli market.”Lightstone Group CEO David Lichtenstein called the ISA’s move “silly” in an interview last month with the Wall Street Journal, comparing it to shutting down “the stock exchange after Enron.” The New York-based developer has issued two Israeli bond series backed by a nationwide portfolio.Other commentators view the rule change as reasonable given the latest shakeup in the bond market — the collapse and delisting of developer Yoel Goldman’s All Year, whose four outstanding bond series have a total face value of about $700 million.“It’s a pity that this is only happening now, after the risk has materialized in two of the [American real estate] companies — and despite the warning signs spread before it,” journalist and market analyst Yaniv Rahimi wrote in a March opinion piece in Israeli business newspaper Calcalist. Rahimi was referring to the recent All Year debacle as well as the challenges facing Starwood, which last year defaulted on Israeli bonds tied to a regional mall portfolio in the U.S.GlocalQuestions about the risks associated with non-Israeli bond issuers go back to mid-2016, when Canadian condo developer Urbancorp filed for bankruptcy just months after raising $48 million in Tel Aviv. That prompted several scrapped IPOs and an investor backlash that lasted for about a year. Then in late 2018, Boaz Gilad’s Brooklyn-based Brookland suspended trading while All Year disclosed an “accidental” transfer of funds to Goldman’s personal account, leading to another bond market meltdown  that lasted several months.Following both the 2016 and 2018 crashes, market commentators argued that Israeli investors would learn to be more selective in their investments and subject U.S. bond issuers to more scrutiny. But now, the ISA seems to have decided that stronger regulatory intervention is needed.While U.S. borrowers may argue that turmoil in the Israeli bond market is just the fault of a few bad apples like Urbancorp, Brookland and All Year, the ISA sees a broader systemic problem — a failure to distinguish between ratings for local (Israeli) companies and global firms. “In recent years, there has been an increase in the issuance and listing of bonds by companies with no affiliation to Israel,” the ISA said in announcing the proposed rule change. It noted that most of the companies in question are incorporated in the British Virgin Islands with business activities focused in the U.S.“These companies are rated by Israeli rating companies on a local scale and not on a global scale … despite their global characteristics and the risks associated with their activities,” the ISA said.To address this apparent discrepancy between local and global rating scales, the ISA’s new rules will require Israeli mutual funds to narrow their definition of “investment-grade” for bonds issued by foreign companies, raising the lower threshold by seven grades from BBB- to AA.Under this new definition, only four of the more than 30 bond series issued by American developers will still be considered investment-grade. Those are two issued by Silverstein Properties with a total value of more than $1 billion and two issued by Joel Wiener’s Pinnacle Group with a total value of about $540 million. The total face value of bonds in the Tel Bond-Global index, which tracks foreign issuers, is more than $13 billion.Silverstein declined to comment on the proposed rule change. Pinnacle did not respond to a request for comment.No place like homeWith a few weeks left before the ISA makes a final decision on whether to implement the new rules, at least one major New York developer is still moving ahead with plans to raise new debt in Tel Aviv.Just days after the ISA announced its proposal, Gary Barnett’s Extell Development disclosed to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that it was considering a new bond series. Ratings agency Midroog rated the proposed issuance, worth up to 150 million shekels, or about $45 million, and gave it a grade of Baa1 (equivalent to BBB+) — a few notches above junk under existing rules, and deep in junk territory under the proposed new rules.Extell declined to comment. Kushner Companies, reportedly considering a $100 million Israeli bond issuance in December, also did not comment.If American developers’ access to the Israeli bond market faces new constraints, they will have to rely more on lenders closer to home. With interest rates at historic lows, it isn’t a bad time to be a borrower in the United States.In particular, many U.S. developers that issue bonds in Israel have also tapped the CMBS market to refinance their properties in recent months — and at interest rates that are comparable to those they pay in Tel Aviv.Take Silverstein’s recent $165 million refinancing of 120 Wall Street, its 670,000-square-foot office tower in Lower Manhattan. The loan came with an interest rate of 3.2 percent, while its two Israeli bond series have interest rates of 3.38 and 3.49 percent. But the CMBS loan is secured by a senior mortgage on the property, while the Israeli bonds are unsecured corporate debt.Meanwhile, Delshah was able to pay down one of its Israeli bond series with a $180 million loan from Arbor Realty Trust on its 205-unit luxury rental conversion project in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights.Prior to its December meltdown, even All Year came close to securing a big refinancing in the CMBS market. The developer was negotiating with Citi and Goldman Sachs for a $652 million refinancing of the Denizen rental complex in Bushwick, according to an October rating report from DBRS Morningstar. The deal would come with a 3.69 percent interest rate and would include 10 other multifamily properties. A $410 million piece of the loan was to be securitized in a CMBS transaction, whose tranches had preliminary ratings ranging from AAA to BB.But that deal evaporated soon after and the provisional ratings were officially withdrawn in February as All Year faced foreclosure. In a massive understatement, the rating agency noted that “this transaction is not expected to close in the immediate future.” Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

Virtual broker eXp Realty has another record quarter

first_img Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Full Name* Message* Agents at the brokerage get high commission splits and operate on a revenue-sharing program that prioritizes recruiting new agents. The firm exists only in the cloud, with agents using avatars to interact in a Sims-like world. The format helped the company thrive during the pandemic.The firm’s Net Promoter Score, which measures agent satisfaction, clocked in at 73, compared to a score of 70 at the end of March 2020.“Not only are we experiencing an acceleration in the number of agents joining eXp, but the agents we are attracting have proved to be increasingly productive and our Net Promoter Score continues to climb,” founder and CEO Glenn Sanford said in a statement.eXp also expanded into four new locations and territories in the first quarter, including Puerto Rico, Brazil, Italy and Hong Kong. eXp World Holdings launched in Colombia shortly after, and there are plans to launch in Spain and Israel by the end of the second quarter.Contact Cordilia James Tags eXp CEO Glenn Sanford (eXp, iStock)eXp Realty started 2021 off real strong.Revenue at the virtual brokerage increased 115 percent to $583.8 million in the first quarter of 2021, the company reported during a Thursday earnings call.Its net income increased a whopping 3,348% to $4.8 million, compared to $100,000 during the same period last year. Meanwhile, gross profit increased to $53.5 million, compared to $28 million in the first quarter of 2020.The firm, which is based in Bellingham, Washington, is one of the fastest-growing real estate brokerages, having recently cracked the top 5 — both by sales volume and number of transactions — in RealTrends’ ranking of top brokerages in 2020.Closed residential and commercial transaction volume grew by 123 percent to $24.5 billion in the first quarter of 2021, more than twice the amount from the same time last year.In the first quarter, eXp also grew its agent count by 77 percent, with the number of brokers on the platform hitting 50,333.Read moreeXp rides housing boom with $31M in profits Virtual brokerage eXp notches most profitable quarter ever Virtual brokerage eXp sees first profitable quarter Share via Shortlink Email Address* eXp realtyResidential BrokerageResidential Real EstateTechnologylast_img read more

Mesocyclone activity over the Northeast Atlantic. Part 2: An investigation of causal mechanisms

first_imgCausal mechanisms of mesocyclone and synoptic cyclone characteristics over the Northeast Atlantic and Nordic Seas are investigated using a 2-year database compiled from infrared satellite imagery. A strong seasonality is found, with peak activity in winter and a minimum in spring. A distinct interannual variability is also found. Smaller mesocyclones (<400 km diameter) were found to be strongly linked to the shallow baroclinic zone along the sea ice edge. Midsize mesocyclones, 200–600 km diameter, are often associated with cold air outbreaks following the passage of synoptic systems. A chart analysis confirms this, showing that convective instability is the major mechanism for the origin of these storms. Although the temporal coverage of the database is short, some support for this is found in comparison with teleconnection patterns and also potential reasons for the large interannual variability.last_img read more

Shifts in coastal Antarctic marine microbial communities during and after melt water-related surface stratification

first_imgAntarctic coastal waters undergo major physical alterations during summer. Increased temperatures induce sea-ice melting and glacial melt water input, leading to strong stratification of the upper water column. We investigated the composition of micro-eukaryotic and bacterial communities in Ryder Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, during and after summertime melt water stratification, applying community fingerprinting (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis) and sequencing analysis of partial 18S and 16S rRNA genes. Community fingerprinting of the eukaryotic community revealed two major patterns, coinciding with a period of melt water stratification, followed by a period characterized by regular wind-induced breakdown of surface stratification. During the first stratified period, we observed depth-related differences in eukaryotic fingerprints while differences in bacterial fingerprints were weak. Wind-induced breakdown of the melt water layer caused a shift in the eukaryotic community from an Actinocyclus sp.- to a Thalassiosira sp.-dominated community. In addition, a distinct transition in the bacterial community was found, but with a few days’ delay, suggesting a response to the changes in the eukaryotic community rather than to the mixing event itself. Sequence analysis revealed a shift from an Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria to a Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides-dominated community under mixed conditions. Our results show that melt water stratification and the transition to nonstabilized Antarctic surface waters may have an impact not only on micro-eukaryotic but also bacterial community composition.last_img read more

Regulation of Virus Neutralization and the Persistent Fraction by TRIM21

first_imgDespite a central role in immunity, antibody neutralization of virus infection is poorly understood. Here we show how the neutralization and persistence of adenovirus type 5, a prevalent nonenveloped human virus, are dependent upon the intracellular antibody receptor TRIM21. Cells with insufficient amounts of TRIM21 are readily infected, even at saturating concentrations of neutralizing antibody. Conversely, high TRIM21 expression levels decrease the persistent fraction of the infecting virus and allows neutralization by as few as 1.6 antibody molecules per virus. The direct interaction between TRIM21 and neutralizing antibody is essential, as single-point mutations within the TRIM21-binding site in the Fc region of a potently neutralizing antibody impair neutralization. However, infection at high multiplicity can saturate TRIM21 and overcome neutralization. These results provide insight into the mechanism and importance of a newly discovered, effector-driven process of antibody neutralization of nonenveloped viruses.last_img read more

Sexual and individual foraging segregation in Gentoo penguins Pygoscelis papua from the Southern Ocean during an abnormal winter

first_imgKnowledge about sexual segregation and gender-specific, or indeed individual specialization, in marine organisms has improved considerably in the past decade. In this context, we tested the “Intersexual Competition Hypothesis” for penguins by investigating the feeding ecology of Gentoo penguins during their austral winter non-breeding season. We considered this during unusual environmental conditions (i.e. the year 2009 had observations of high sea surface and air temperatures) in comparison with the long term average at Bird Island, South Georgia. Through conventional (i.e. stomach contents) and stable isotopic values from red blood cells, plasma and feathers of both male and female Gentoo penguins, we showed that there were significant differences between sexes, with males feeding mainly on fish (54% by mass) followed by crustaceans (38%) whereas females fed mainly on crustaceans (89% by mass) followed by fish (4%). Themisto gaudichaudii was the most important crustacean prey for males (64% by mass; 82% by number; 53% by frequency of occurrence) and females (63% by mass; 77% by number; 89% by frequency of occurrence), contrasting with all previous studies that found Antarctic krill Euphausia superba were generally the main prey. Stable isotopic data showed that, in terms of habitat use (based on δ 13C), there were significant differences in short-term carbon signatures between males and females (based on plasma and red blood cells), suggesting that both sexes explored different habitats, with females exploring more offshore pelagic waters and males feeding more in coastal benthic waters. Based on δ 15N, males fed on significantly higher trophic level than females (based on plasma and red blood cells), in agreement with our diet results., Thus, Gentoo penguins behave in a similar manner to other non-breeding penguins species (e.g. king, macaroni and rockhopper penguins), albeit at a smaller spatial scale (as they do not disperse as these other penguins do), in that they have a wider habitat and trophic niche during the Antarctic Winter (in comparison to Summer). We also detected individual specialization in feeding/trophic levels for each gender, with certain males feeding mainly on fish and certain females mainly on crustaceans, which may be driven the prevailing environmental conditions that lead individuals to search for alternative prey, and cause sexual diet segregation. Our results provide further information to help improve understanding about sexual segregation and individual specialization of marine organisms, while contributing valuable information on the winter diet for Antarctic monitoring programs and for modelling Antarctic marine food webs.last_img read more

Observed response of stratospheric and mesospheric composition to sudden stratospheric warmings.

first_imgIn this study we investigate and quantify the statistical changes that occur in the stratosphere and mesosphere during 37 sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events from 1989 to 2016. We consider changes in the in-situ ozonesonde observations of the stratosphere from four sites in the northern hemisphere (Ny-Ålesund, Sodankylä, Lerwick, and Boulder). These data are supported by Aura/MLS satellite observations of the ozone volumetric mixing ratio above each site, and also ground-based total-column O3 and NO2, and mesospheric wind measurements, measured at the Sodankylä site. Due to the long-time periods under consideration (weeks/months) we evaluate the observations explicitly in relation to the annual mean of each data set. Following the onset of SSWs we observe an increase in temperature above the mean (for sites usually within the polar vortex) that persists for >∼40 days. During this time the stratospheric and mesospheric ozone (volume mixing ratio and partial pressure) increases by ∼20% as observed by both ozonesonde and satellite instrumentation. Ground-based observations from Sodankylä demonstrate the total column NO2 does not change significantly during SSWs, remaining close to the annual mean. The zonal wind direction in the mesosphere at Sodankylä shows a clear reversal close to SSW onset. Our results have broad implications for understanding the statistical variability of atmospheric changes occurring due to SSWs and provides quantification of such changes for comparison with modelling studies.last_img read more