New York investor allegedly skipped out on a $1.44M commission

Miami Gardens complex and Nabeel Abunassar
Miami Gardens complex and Nabeel Abunassar

A North Miami real estate brokerage firm and one of its realtors are accusing a former client of skipping out on his commission fee bill, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

La Rosa Realty and realtor associate Nabeel Abunassar sued John Sismanoglou and his company Ellington Residences in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month for breach of contract in connection with his purchase of an 86-unit, seven-story apartment building in Miami Gardens a month earlier.

The lawsuit accuses Sismanoglou of reneging on an agreement to pay La Rosa and Abunassar a 4 percent commission for finding him investment properties to buy. Sismanoglou could not be reached for comment. Abunassar told The Real Deal that Sismanoglou attempted to keep him in the dark about the apartment building while he was actively looking for properties for his then-client.

“Miami is a very small town, especially among the small community of commercial realtors,” Abunassar said. “You can hear through the grapevine when something is going on. I had an exclusive buyers agreement that was signed by the investor.”

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Abunassar said Sismanoglou bought the multifamily property at 700 Northwest 214th Street for $36 million on November 1. According to the lawsuit, Sismanoglou is a “sophisticated real estate investor specializing in the acquisition and sale of commercial properties in Florida and New York.”

Sometime in spring of last year, Sismanoglou began communicating with Abunassar about buying properties in Miami-Dade County using the proceeds from the sale of real estate he owned in New York, the lawsuit states. On May 18, 2016, Sismanoglou signed the exclusive buyers’ agreement with Abunassar and La Rosa. For the next five months, Abunassar scoured Miami-Dade to identify and present properties for Sismanoglou’s consideration, according to the lawsuit.

In September of last year, Sismanoglou told Abunassar that he no longer needed the realtor to scout for properties because he had found one, although he didn’t provide any specific details about the site, the lawsuit alleges. A month later, Sismanoglou incorporated Ellington Residences, which is the company that holds title to the building.

Abunassar contends that a provision in the exclusive buyers agreement entitles him and La Rosa to a 4 percent commission, or $1.44 million.