EB-5 sees investment boost, tensions flare between brokers and StreetEasy: Daily digest

A daily roundup of New York real estate news for October 21, 2019

Every day The Real Deal rounds up New York’s biggest real estate happenings, from breaking news and scoops to announcements and deals. We update this page throughout the day, starting at 9 a.m. Please send any tips or deals to tips@therealdeal.com.

This page was last updated at 2:40 p.m.


A construction worker was killed this morning at a Lower East Side worksite. The worker died when a wall collapsed at 60 Norfolk Street, the site of a historic synagogue that burned down in 2017, according to PIX 11. One other worker was injured and is hospitalized in serious condition. No other injuries were reported. [PIX 11]


Deed theft and deceptive home purchases may be growing in black, gentrifying areas. Brooklyn’s booming real estate market is fueling the activity, according to the New York Times. Homeowners will often be led to believe the documents they are signing are for financial assistance, but they turn out to be deed transfers. Neighborhoods including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights are popular targets. [NYT]


Investors are pouring into EB-5 projects before new rules kick in (Credit: iStock)

EB-5 has seen an investment boost, but that could soon reverse. Federal regulations effective Nov. 21 will double the dollar amount that foreigners need to invest in a project to qualify for EB-5 visas, so many are rushing to get into the program at the existing minimum, according to The Real Deal. In low-employment zones, the amount will rise to $900,000 from $500,000, and in all other areas to $1.8 million from $1 million. [TRD]


Tensions between StreetEasy and brokerages are on the rise once again. The latest flare-up stems in part from accusations that StreetEasy is using exclusive rental agreements to reach out to landlords to persuade them to work with StreetEasy directly instead of using agents. Also, last month the platform said it would reform its Building Expert program with a new fee model but would not say how much the change would cost agents. [TRD]


Cuomo will have state agencies investigate a Bronx building dogged by accusations of bedbugs and drug crimes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told his Department of Health on Sunday to perform an environmental health assessment at the property, and his Office of Rent Administration to examine whether the owner is properly maintaining rent-regulated units, according to CBS-2. Five Star Management is the building manager. [WCBS]


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The family of a security guard who died in a construction accident is in a legal battle with the building owner. Harry Ramnauth was hit and killed by a 2,300-pound window last year at 217 West 57th Street, according to the Daily News. The family is fighting with developer Extell Group, insurance company AIG and contractor Pinnacle Industries over whether and for how long Ramnauth suffered, a key component in how much money his family will receive. [NYDN]


The law firm Katten is moving to Rockefeller Center. The firm has signed a 125,000-square-foot lease for five floors at Tishman Speyer’s 50 Rockefeller Plaza, according to TRD. The Chicago-based firm will move out of its office at 575 Madison Avenue starting next spring. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. [TRD]


Compass’ Robert Reffkin and Avi Dorfman (Credit: Facebook, iStock)

Compass is appealing a judge’s decision to order a jury trial in the Avi Dorfman case. Dorfman is suing to be recognized as a co-founder of the firm, and a New York Supreme Court judge ruled Oct. 1 that he was entitled to a trial, denying Compass’ motion for a summary judgment, according to TRD. Dorfman sued Compass five years ago for a stake in the company worth more than $200 million, but Compass has called the suit opportunistic and said he turned down multiple offers to work at the brokerage. [TRD]


Turns out New York is not the world’s least affordable city for home buyers. Hong Kong is No. 1 by a good margin based on the years of median salary it takes to buy a home: 20.9, according to Bloomberg. Vancouver comes next at 12.6 years, followed by Sydney at 11.7 years on a list of selected cities. The first American city listed is San Jose at 9.4 years, at the No. 5 spot, while New York doesn’t appear until No. 14, at 5.5 years. [Bloomberg]


Di-Ann Eisnor has left WeWork as well. The executive held the title “CWeO of Cities” and reported to former CEO Adam Neumann, according to The Information. She had spearheaded WeWork’s “Cities” team and hired designers, engineers and researchers to study urban issues such as affordable housing and sustainable construction. Her team had about 30 people, but they have left or are planning to leave the company. [The Information]


There were 19 luxury contracts signed for about $159 million in Manhattan last week. This was a boost in sales and dollar volume from the week before, when 11 contracts were signed for about $77.5 million. The properties spent an average of 196 days on the market and had an average discount of 8 percent from the original asking price. [Olshan]


Brooklyn’s luxury market saw eight contracts signed last week for a total of roughly $23.8 million. Both figures were down from the previous week’s 19 contracts signed for about $55.3 million. The average contract went for about $3 million, and the properties spent an average of 236 days on the market. [Compass]