Ecvet Sayer wanted to buy an $8.6 million penthouse at Biscayne Beach Residences, so the Turkish oil and gas entrepreneur plunked down $2.7 million to hold the unit. But the developers of the new Edgewater luxury condo tower never allowed him to close the deal and illegally terminated the sales contract, Sayer alleges in a lawsuit recently filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
Sayer is suing West Palm Beach-based Eastview Development and its entity, Biscayne Miami Partners for civil theft, conspiracy and racketeering, among other counts. Also named as defendants are Stewart Title Guaranty and brokers Attila Yildiz of Keller Williams Realty and Kinga Konsorska of Cervera Real Estate. Yildiz and Konsorska did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Sayer’s attorney Michael Hacker said Eastview tried to take advantage of his client because he was a foreigner and strung him along for nearly three years. “Our client has been seriously hurt and damaged and he looks forward to securing relief in Miami-Dade Circuit Court,” Hacker said. “I would hope this lawsuit sends a message to developers locally and internationally that you can’t be taking advantage of innocent people all for the sake of the almighty dollar or euro.”
Barry Rothberg, a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig representing Eastview, said Sayer’s lawsuit is without merit and that he didn’t have the money to buy the penthouse when the closing was supposed to take place in July 2017.
“The plaintiff admitted at the time his own financial difficulties made him unable to complete his funding obligations for the deposit installments or to pay the purchase price at closing,” Rothberg said in an emailed statement. “When it was clear Mr. Sayer would not or could not close when required under the contract, the developer terminated the contract in accordance with its terms and started the process to find a replacement purchaser.”
Sayer’s complaint provides a rare glimpse into the high-pressure sales environment for developers and brokers of luxury condominium projects. Sayer alleges he began looking for a second home in Miami in 2014 when he became reacquainted with Yildiz and Konsorska, who at the time were selling units at Biscayne Beach, located at 2900 Northeast 7th Avenue.
Sayer claims Yildiz and Konsorska were so eager to have him sign a sales contract that they convinced the developer to lower the price of the penthouse, but the lawsuit does not state by how much. At a meeting on Nov. 14, Sayer said the developers and the brokers pressured him to sign a reservation agreement that they did not sign, according to the complaint. He was also required to place $1 million in an escrow account maintained by Stewart Title.
Between 2014 and 2016, Sayer deposited another $1.7 million into the escrow account, plus another $107,500 for parking spaces and a storage room, even though the reservation agreement was non-binding because it lacked the developers’ signatures, the lawsuit alleges. During that time, several red flags popped up, Sayer claims.
For instance, Eastview executives “confessed” to Sayer in January 2015 that the Federal Aviation Administration had warned them the proposed height of Biscayne Beach would interfere with incoming and outgoing air traffic from Miami International Airport, according to the suit. The developers could not guarantee Sayer would get the penthouse he had made deposits on, but insisted he continue to put money into the escrow account toward the purchase, the lawsuit claims.
The same month, Stewart Title notified all parties that it was going to terminate the escrow account and return all monies in it because the developers had still not countersigned the reservation agreement. It is unclear if Stewart followed through, the lawsuit states.
Instead, Sayers alleges the developers and the brokers kept insisting he continue adding money to his deposit until the closing. In January 2017, the developers refused to allow Sayer’s representatives to go inside the finished penthouse and take photographs. To keep him from walking away, the developers informed Sayer his penthouse was now worth $9.8 million on the open market.
Seven months later, on July 7, the scheduled closing did not take place and Sayers was hit with a notice of default by Eastview’s in-house counsel, the complaint claims. He subsequently received a termination of agreement.
Sayer alleges the penthouse remains unsold and that the developers are using the unit as a showroom for Elysee, a neighboring project under development by Eastview affiliate Two Roads Development.