Real estate

At the end of last month, the Palm Beach County Commissioners, County Administrator, decision-makers, community leaders and others in the region, assembled at the Palm Beach County Convention Center for a six-hour annual summit.  The focus of the Palm Beach Housing Summit was to find a way to “reduce financial barriers, policy and regulatory barriers while exploring innovative tools and models that will provide the housing options that will keep pace with growth in our community.”

It was very productive for those with an interest in the maintenance of a sustainable community such as real estate employees, lenders, housing counselors, non-profits, etc.

One of the topics discussed was how to respond to the increasing challenge of providing affordable housing for youngsters.  Crisis Housing Solutions executive director Craig Vanderlaan suggested the use of shipping containers to build more affordable housing as has been the case in London (for a shopping mall), Los Angeles (housing for veterans) and the Netherlands (student housing).

One of the biggest pieces of Florida real estate news recently took place. The “Winter White House” which belonged to the Kennedy family for years and then to merchant banker John Castle, Castle Harlan Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, has now been sold. The oceanfront compound in Palm Beach was sold was sold to Jane Goldman for $31 million.

Interestingly, the town never granted landmark protection to the house, but the buyer says that she will be keeping the residence intact. A confidentiality agreement, however, prevents any of the parties involved from commenting.

The Castles purchased the property for $4.9 million in 1995 from the Kennedy family. They underwent a two-year renovation to add air conditioning for the first time and to carefully preserve several of the rooms to look as they had during President Kennedy’s era when he lived there with first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and their two young children.

The home has 15,347 square feet of living space, 11 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and three half-baths. The Kennedys actually fought against landmark status a number of times as they were worried that it would make the property more difficult to sell. Today, there is a high perimeter wall and wooden gate which are the only parts of the property that are landmarked.

The home was originally bought by the Kennedys in 1933 by Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. from the Wanamakers. They were a Philadelphia department-store family. The two-story home was designed for Rodman Wanamaker II by society architect Addison Mizner and was originally named “La Querida.” The Castles called the estate “Castillo del Mar” or castle by the sea.

The estate has quite a history as the location where Kennedy Sr. had his legal residence as of 1941. He frequently swam in the pool and John F. Kennedy is said to have written his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, at the house while recovering from back surgery in 1956. Many members of the Kennedy clan played touch football on the lawn and Jacqueline Kennedy recuperated from her 1960 birth to John Jr. at the house.

Certainly, the home has a long and lush history as it moves from the ownership of John K. Castle of Castle Harland to Jane Goldman.

propertiesThere are various options when it comes to investing in real estate. Steven P. Rosenthal, President and CEO of Northland Investment Corporation, has been working in this industry for many years. According to one business writer, Andrew Beattie, over the last half-century, property purchasing has gained increasing popularity as a sound investment. However, one who is interested in the market needs to realize that in general, real estate investment is significantly more complex than standard stocks and bonds investments.

Northland Investment Corporation – a real estate investment company of over four-and-half decades – achieves its results by its “ability to create value.” The firm focuses on determining potential. As they explain on their website, “The paramount consideration in Northland's approach to real estate investing is identifying value creation opportunities.”

When it comes to real estate investment, Northland seeks to amass real estate assets “diversified by markets, sectors and lines of business—and balancing the acquisition of high quality, lower risk assets with higher yielding, valued added assets and development opportunities.” In terms of determining the best real estate investment for an individualized fiscal situation, people should analyze the following basic options: basic rental properties (buying a property and thereafter renting it out); real estate investment groups (gives one the benefit of buying a property, renting it out but not having the stress of being a landlord. A company buys apartments and allows investors to buy them through the company); real estate trading; real estate investment trust and leverage.

It is important to look at all options and discuss them with experts in the field before delving into the real estate market.

Doral Bank, a Puerto Rico-based bank with a presence in Florida, recently reaffirmed its commitment to real estate by announcing a partnership with San Juan Board of Realtors. During the oath ceremony of the Association’s new board, Doral Mortgage addressed the Board of Realtors and confirmed its support of the continued education program. Jesus D. Mendez, the operations EVP at Doral Bank Puerto Rico, took the oath of the new San Juan Board of Realtors president Eduardo Santos Alvarado at the event.

Alvarado acknowledged Doral’s support, and stated “It’s important to work together to achieve the goals we all have in the mortgage market. Our present is challenging, therefore, it’s important to know the existing opportunities to provide successful solutions to consumers in a responsible manner and that’s what we are looking for with our partnership with Doral.”

Doral bank also issued a statement, explaining that it “is essential to establish such partnerships in times of economic change, emphasizing that Doral has always distinguished itself by extending services of opportunities and alternatives for citizens in programs aimed at the acquisition of homes. With programs such as HARP (Home Affordable Program Refinance) and FHA Streamline, they have followed families to refinance their mortgage at a lower interest rate even at a time when the value of the property has been affected, allowing a significant financial relief for these families.”

Since the housing market in the Florida region is generally improving, this suggests that the state’s overall economic outlook is following the same pattern.  The Leisure and entertainment industries are also benefitting.

When Brooklyn-born Evan Burschkopf started the expansion of his restaurant-bar Zarsha Leo franchise, he felt that this was as good a time as any to open up a branch in New Port St. Lucie, where his grandmother had recently retired.  “As a businessman, I am always seeking opportunities for expansion,” he explained.  “Given that the real estate market of Florida is booming right now and my grandmother loves her life there, I figured why not give the locals something different with Zarsha Leo?”

In today’s strapped economy, many struggling homeowners have difficulty selling their properties. Oftentimes, those in need of immediate cash flow will find themselves selling their properties at a substantial discount.  The real estate research firm Radar Logic, for instance, estimates that the discount that sellers face at the moment averages approximately 40%-.

Helping those in need, companies like Transcendent Investment Management with Jordan Kavana offer a balanced strategy.  While purchasing properties from banks, courts and other sources, TIM can purchase and sell single-family homes, condominiums and multi-family properties while also purchasing properties for rental.

As TIM explains, “This provides capital gains balanced with a stable cash flow from a portfolio of value-priced hard assets.”  Transcendent earns its returns by serving as a capital provider for distressed properties and best in class investment manager across the country. Their knowledgeable team finds high absolute return investments in real estate that show fundamental value, a favorable risk-return profile and an identifiable exit.