ExMiami founder should explain mission

By Peter Zalewski | January 21, 2014 12:00PM

Peter Zalewski

It is no surprise that investors look to New York City to trade stocks, Chicago for commodities and Miami for condos.

For many of these investors, the key to every trade, whether in equities, futures contracts or units, is access to timely and accurate information that can be used when making decisions.

It is this desire for actionable information in the highly competitive South Florida real estate market that has apparently prompted a number of Miami brokers, investors and even news websites to almost blindly refer to blog items posted on a website run by an anonymous individual – or group – who refuses to divulge his or her identity despite multiple requests.

That the website in question, ExMiami, is posting regional real estate information without citing an author is far from significant.

After all, the guiding principle for the Internet is ‘buyer beware,’ especially with unknown sources.

What is noteworthy is that the ExMiami website seems to have a knack for publishing applications for new real estate developments even before the respective government bodies apparently make the information available to the general public.

ExMiami’s insider-like information has helped the website build up nearly 1,300 followers on Twitter in recent months. This column will likely only add to ExMiami’s follower total in the days ahead.

Still, it is important to consider how many real estate professionals and investors may have made property transaction decisions based on posts on the ExMiami website.

The efforts by ExMiami to reveal proposed real estate developments in South Florida are commendable, as the postings ensure the industry and public are made aware of many of the projects in the works.

The impact of government information, such as development plans, is apparently so powerful that the Florida Legislature has created some of the strongest “Sunshine Laws” in the country to ensure transparency across all levels of local, regional and statewide bureaucracy.

Despite having won the Freedom Of Information Act debate, the ExMiami website appears to be compromising its argument by refusing to reveal its ownership, editorial board and mission.

Simply put, why hide in the shadows of anonymity if the cause is noble and the access to information is legal?

It is against this backdrop that multiple e-mail inquiries were sent to the only contact information posted on ExMiami site.

This is the delayed email response that was received in reference to questions about the ExMiami mission:

“I want to let you know that we have followed your work for years and are admirers of what you have done,” according to an e-mail from ExMiami. “However, at this time we don’t want to do any interviews or publicity – in fact we prefer to stay pretty much incognito, at least for now. Thanks for taking the time to e-mail us though.”

As the ExMiami brass refuses to come forward with an explanation of its mission and ownership, skepticism is likely to grow about the site’s objectives and accuracy.

Given the increasing questions about the posts on ExMiami, the time is now for the site’s owner to reveal his or her objectives and mission regarding the future of the website.

Peter Zalewski is real estate columnist for The Real Deal who founded Condo Vultures LLC, a consultancy and publishing company, as well as Condo Vultures Realty LLC and CVR Realty brokerages and the Condo Ratings Agency, an analytics firm. The Condo Ratings Agency operates CraneSpotters.com, a preconstruction condo projects website, in conjunction with the Miami Association of Realtors.