Realtors fight over $1.3M commission tied to Little Havana pharmacy sale
A squabble between two commercial brokers provides a rare glimpse into the lucrative commission fees derived from the sale of net lease properties.
Brickell Avenue-based Bustamante Investment Group sued Surfside-based Municoy International Realty and its owner Elizabeth Municoy, also known as Elizabeth Ortiz Municoy, on Oct. 4, seeking to nullify a referral agreement tied to the listing of a CVS pharmacy at 1177 Southwest Eighth Street in Little Havana.
On July 19, a company called Mother Queen Inc. sold the CVS, which sits on a 2.2 acre site with a surface parking lot, to 976 Miami RE LLC for $13.1 million, of which 10 percent was paid by the seller to Bustamante as a commission.
According to the lawsuit, Mother Queen was originally represented by Municoy, which brought in Bustamante to handle the listing. Now, Bustamante wants a Miami-Dade Circuit judge to rule against Municoy’s demands for 7 percent of the $1.3 million commission allegedly per the brokerages’ referral agreement.
The attorney for Bustamante, Michael Schlesinger declined comment.
Javier Rodriguez, Municoy’s attorney, said Bustamante filed a meritless lawsuit to avoid paying the referral fee to Municoy, which represented Mother Queen when it purchased the CVS in 2012 for $12 million.
“Bustamante is now grasping at straws,” Rodriguez said. “We view this as a pretext to not paying the referral fee. I had sent them a demand letter in August, three months before [Bustamante] filed the lawsuit.”
According to the suit, Elizabeth Municoy met with the plaintiff’s owner, Ernesto Bustamante, in March 2016 to enlist his firm on behalf of Mother Queen. “[Municoy] did not want the CVS property listed for sale or appearing on the MLS and wanted to keep the sale confidential,” the lawsuit states. “Bustamante and MIR entered into three different referral agreements based on the fact that MIR kept changing the terms of the agreement.”
In addition to allegedly repeatedly changing the referral agreement, the lawsuit alleges that Elizabeth Municoy cannot receive the commission because Florida law prohibits payments to unlicensed real estate brokers. A check of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation online database confirmed Municoy is not licensed in real estate sales, but her business partner, Thomas Baker, is licensed.
“The referral agreement was with the realty company, not Elizabeth individually,” Rodriguez said. “Mr. Bustamante’s allegations are not only denied, they are irrelevant as she was not the selling broker.”