Young Leaders of Broward County Hosts Industry Leaders Karsenti, Foschini and Behar for Lively Chat
ULI’s Southeast Florida/Caribbean chapter and its Young Leaders of Broward County hosted a group of some of South Florida’s most recognizable real estate players on June 14 for an entertaining panel discussion about the available sources of capital in today’s dynamic market and the local projects that are tapping into unconventional financing sources like EB-5.
An enthusiastic crowd of industry professionals convened at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale to hear insights from the panel, which was moderated by Jim Fried, President of Sandstone Realty Advisors and host of the “Fried on Business” radio show. Panelists included Larry J. Behar, an attorney with Behar Law Group who is one of the nation’s leading EB-5 specialists; Charles Foschini, Senior Managing Director of Berkadia; and Arnaud Karsenti, Managing Principal of 13th Floor Investments. Young Leaders of Broward Events and Programming co-chairs Evgeny Munkov of BBX Capital and Jenae Valentine of RMA kicked off the proceedings with opening remarks and panelist introductions.
Foschini, a premier capital markets broker, described present financing conditions as “active but inefficient,” citing stringent regulations for banks and the challenges facing the borrowers who need funding the most. He pointed out that the stranglehold on traditional banks is opening up new opportunities for CMBS lenders and debt funds.
Karsenti, who has had tremendous success over the last decade turning around distressed real estate assets and making savvy value-add investments, shared wisdom about his approach to putting new deals together. He said a potential deal needs “a good story” for all of the pieces to fall into place and that “being on the right side of time” supersedes the old adage that location is most important in real estate.
EB-5 continues to provide much-needed funding to prominent South Florida developments, including Panorama Towers in Miami and 100 Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. Behar noted that Chinese investors still make up the vast majority of EB-5 applicants, but he is starting to see more interest in the vehicle from Venezuela. EB-5 investors are particularly chasing opportunities for “safe” acquisitions like hotels, student housing and charter schools.