IN THE PRESS
REALTOR® Magazine - 30 Under 30 - Reuben Saul Robin
Rookie of the Year
Straight out of Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business, Reuben Saul Robin was so keenly interested in real estate that he took a minimum wage job in the copy room of Marcus and Millichap. In three years, he worked his way up to senior associate and was tapped to direct the company’s National Multi Housing Group. In his years with the company he won many sales achievement awards, including to national awards. Robin left in 2007 to found the Robin Group, his own real estate investment company focusing on multifamily properties. The company has closed $160 million in sales to date and also provides leasing, property management, research, and advisory services. Reuben sits on his local association’s public policy committee and devotes three evenings a week to philanthropic organizations. He was co-chair of The Jewish Federation’s Real Estate & Construction Dvision’s 2009 campaign.
A Sweet Deal
When looking to buy his first place, Robin knew he wanted a unit in Los Angeles’s coveted Wilshire corridor. By befriending the head valets at his most desired buildings, he gained the inside lead on a suddenly vacated unit. He bought it for a bargain and, a few years later, sold it for more than three times the price.
“Sometimes others tease me about my specific ideas about how things should be done, but there is a rationale behind it,” he says. “I believe that every action we take counts, so I perform small tasks with the same mindfulness as I do large ones. Very often, it’s the details that make the difference!”
Concord Companies Pivots Toward NPL Opportunities
Real Estate Capital USA
Los Angeles-based real estate investment manager Concord Companies is shifting away from multifamily acquisitions toward more non-performing loans transactions as the current market downturn presents rare, distressed opportunities to investors with this appetite.
Reuben Robin, founder and chief executive, said the company started to shed multifamily assets in the Sun Belt region in 2021, understanding that a run-up in prices in Texas and other Sunbelt states were affecting the attractiveness of yields.
“[We] didn’t see the fundamentals supporting what the pricing became, so we made some really exciting, nice exits for ourselves and our investors,” Robin said.
Robin’s move to pivot toward distressed opportunities stems from his experience in the years following the global financial crisis, when quick-thinking investors were able to acquire and manage non-performing debt. While Robin’s focus following that period was more on acquisitions, a series of interest rate hikes and a murkier market outlook in the second half of 2022 had the firm thinking differently.
“As we were closing our last major assets, we decided that we were going to look at non-performing loans heavily,” Robin said.
Because Concord Companies is not currently dealing with buyers or any legacy asset management issues, the firm will be able to commit to this window of opportunity over the next 18 to 24 months. “Our plan is to do some mass acquisitions in the non-performing loans space, probably this year,” he added.
The firm’s first NPL deal is close to closing, with Robin citing the acquisition of a $45 million loan backed by a portfolio of office, retail and apartment buildings in Los Angeles. The purchase price presents a significant discount to the loan’s original value of $68 million.
“California [is] the most interesting for me simply because it’s my backyard. And the process of foreclosure is a whole lot easier than most states,” said Robin.
The firm is looking for distressed loan acquisition opportunities in Dallas, as well. As Concord sees more potential distress in the multifamily sector, the firm is looking to acquire defaulted loans backed by multifamily properties across markets.
Best Places to Work 2023
ALM | GLOBEST
CONCORD COMPANIES Concord Companies emphasizes that it is not a suit-and-tie commercial real estate firm, but one where team members wear jeans to work and can play their favorite music over the office sound system. Within this work-hard-play-hard model, Concord also treats each of its team members like leaders with hopes of creating an entrepreneurial culture that fosters creativity, authenticity and mutual respect. Led by founder and CEO Reuben Robin, the real estate investment and services organization offers a full suite of in-house services, including capital markets, lend-ing, brokerage, property management, leasing and construction. Recognizing the value of strong work ethics, the firm has a history of pro-moting employees from front-line staff to partners. Concord places a strong emphasis on work/life balance and it is piloting an alternative workweek schedule known as a 9-80 schedule during which employees work 80 hours over nine business days and have the 10th business day off. Team members also enjoy quarterly events that build camaraderie, such as a Halloween costume contest and a summer barbecue. Concord provides a budget for employees looking to access training in their field and encourages cross-training and job shadowing to build well-rounded employees. The company is an advocate for diversity, inclusion and belonging and it is committed to building an inclusive workplace where differences are embraced, recognized and understood. One employee states that they appreciate the company’s growth mentality. “I have been here four years and within that time frame I have experienced both company growth and personal growth,” he says. “I like that everyone is goal-oriented. It does not matter what department you are involved with, everyone wants to achieve and do well for themselves and the company.”
Jonathan Fhima of F2: Five Things I Learned As A Twenty-Something Founder
-An Interview With Doug Noll
Don’t forget to give back. As you achieve success, be sure to remember the importance of giving back and dedicating your time to those who may benefit from your experiences. While individuals in their 40s, 50s, and 60s often recognize this, it can be easy for those in their 20s and 30s to overlook the significance of providing guidance and support to the next generation. Ultimately, it is important to remember that success is not only measured by personal achievements but also by the impact that you have on others and the legacy that you leave behind.
Thank you for having me! I’m a Los Angeles native and stayed in the city until I graduated high school. I took a slightly unconventional route, spending a year studying abroad through an exchange program before starting college in New York City. After earning my degree in Accounting with a minor in Business Management from the Sy Syms School of Business, I was fortunate to start my career as an investment analyst at Lightstone, a highly respected real estate private equity firm in NYC.
During my almost six years with Lightstone, I worked on sourcing, underwriting, due diligence, leveraging, and closing over $1 billion in real estate transactions. I quickly advanced to the roles of Associate and Vice President before co-founding Lightstone Capital, the firm’s private debt vertical, in Q1 of 2019. As part of the Lightstone Capital team, I originated and closed over $400 million in senior debt, mezzanine debt, preferred equity, performing and non-performing debt investments across all major asset classes in the United States.
In June of 2021, I decided it was time to embark on a new challenge and build my own real estate private equity firm. That’s how the F2 story began. I chose the name F2 because my last name is Fhima, and I’m the second child. While the name may not be very creative, it holds a lot of meaning for me personally.
Concord Refocuses on SoCal
Los Angeles Business Journal
Beverly Hills-based real estate company Concord Capital Partners is refocusing on Southern California after years of being primarily invested in Texas, going against a trend seen in recent years of more investors looking at markets outside of L.A.
The company, which was founded in 2003, had been focused on the Lone Star State since 2014.
“In the last two years, I guess the secret was out and lots of investors came in and it got too frothy in my opinion,” Concord Founder and Chief Executive Reuben Robin said. “I see opportunity in California. There’s a lot of money heading away from California.”
“Now more so than ever, we’ve seen high net-worth private capital move its way out of California,” Anthony DeLorenzo, a vice chairman at CBRE Group Inc., said.
As a result of such large amounts of money moving out, Robin believes there is an opportunity for others to fill the vacuum in Southern California.
As part of its L.A.-centric strategy shift, Concord has hired commercial real estate veteran Samuel Landman as chief investment officer.
Multifamily: Shelter from the Economic Storm?
Despite 2022’s tremendous shakeup in the capital markets due to rising interest rates and the resulting commercial real estate (CRE) slowdown and re-trades, investors may have still found a solid place to take a stand. That is, in part, thanks to the multifamily sector’s advantageous supply and demand struggle.
Although multifamily investment volume decreased by 19 percent year-over-year in 2022, the $278.8 billion transacted was still the second largest annual total on record, according to CBRE. That impressive aggregate came despite fourth quarter volume falling by 34 percent quarter-over-quarter and 70 percent year-over-year to $48 billion. CBRE expects that demand will turn positive in first quarter 2023 after three consecutive quarters of negative absorption. Elsewhere, moderate-income and workforce apartments ranked No. 1 overall for investment prospects — and No. 3 for development prospects — in PwC and Urban Land Institute’s 2023 “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report.
The report also notes that the “high-income apartments” category is the highest rated CRE subsectors for both investment and development prospects. Properties such as KBS’ Park Central Apartments in Raleigh, North Carolina, have demonstrated that providing a nearly all-inclusive lifestyle with high-end amenities is an attractive alternative to homeownership.
Concord Real Estate Services recently rolled out two mobile property management offices: Fiat 500E electric vehicles, tricked out with a printer, scanner, copier, and sliding desk. Director of management services Aric Ohana, flanked by mobile managers Chris Aguirre and Avi Kram, says the cars are aimed at increasing efficiency. They provide the managers with the tools they need to take care of tenant, maintenance, and vendor issues while out in the field, without having to go back and forth to the office to do the administrative work.
Aric showed us the inner works. The machines run off the vehicle’s electricity, and a wireless router allows Avi and Chris to stream movies, er, print and scan to their iPads minis. Since the mobile manager cars were introduced, they’ve been able to lease units faster, too. They now can show units to prospective tenants, have them fill out an electronic application, and pull up their credit info on the spot. The cars run 100 miles on a single charge and cost about $34k each, Aric says, but state and federal rebates make it economical for small management firms.
Concord RE Revs Up Expansion Strategy
ALM | GLOBEST
LOS ANGELES—Concord RE has unveiled its aggressive expansion goals. The Beverly Hills-based brokerage house has acquired Prosser Stevens Real Estate Investment, a multifamily investment sales-focused firm founded in 2011 by Kenny Stevens and Heidi Prosser Stevens. Formerly an independent operating firm under Keller Williams Commercial Realty, Prosser Stevens’ 12-person team has moved to the Concord RE offices in Beverly Hills and will operate under the name Concord RE as a single firm.
“We have been really focused on multifamily investment sales for the past six years, and we were really drawn to Concord’s full-service model,” Prosser Stevens, who is now chief operating officer and managing partner at the new firm, tells GlobeSt.com. “We really saw the benefit of being at a full service platform for both our agents, and most importantly, our clients. Because of where the market is right now—this is such an exciting time and there is a ton of growth—we felt like this was the best time to capitalize on this opportunity.”
Cultural compatibility was a key factor in the decision to combine the two firms. Concord has thoughtfully developed its inclusive culture while as the firm has organically grown into a multi-faceted platform. “Concord is a full service firm,” Yoav Sarraf, managing director at Concord RE, tells GlobeSt.com. “We started as a commercial brokerage firm, but organically grew over time to include property management, asset management, construction services, capital markets and so on. We wanted to deliver a full service to our clients. Today, people don’t want to go to a different specialist; they want everything in one place and in one experience. That is what we have grown to be.”
While the Prosser Stevens, focused on multifamily investment sales, Reuben Robin, the CEO of Concord, agrees that the deal was less about the product type and more about a shared vision. “You are going to want to bring in a multifamily team, always, but this wasn’t really about that,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “This was really about the amount of business that they are doing and who they are. We know them personally, which was really important to me. It was more about the volume of business than the type of business that they do.”
TRG, Cresta Buy in Koreatown
Los Angeles Business Journal
L.A.’s Koreatown continues to attract multifamily investors. A joint venture of Beverly Hills firm TRG Investments and Century City’s Cresta Properties has bought a 49-unit, 36,925-square-foot Class C art deco apartment building and adjacent parking lot at 808 S. Hobart Blvd. for $8.4 million, or roughly $230 a square foot, from San Francisco’s Virtu Investments. The property last sold in 2005 for only $4.9 million, or $133 a square foot.
The new ownership group plans to complete a renovation program started by the previous owner that will include upgrading the lobby and common areas as well as refacing the building exterior.
The five-story property, dubbed the Ashby, includes 39 studios that are 650 square feet and rent for $1,129 a month, according to CoStar. It also includes 10 one-bedroom units that are just under 1,000 square feet and rent for $1,600 a month. Only one unit is vacant.
The buyers declined to comment on their plans for rents at the property.
Beverly Hills’ Concord Real Estate Services will manage the property and oversee capital improvements.
“Koreatown is rapidly becoming one of the most vibrant urban markets in Los Angeles,” said Reuben Robin, a principal of both TRG and Concord. “We have seen firsthand the influx of young professionals to Koreatown. Not only does the area benefit from an improving social infrastructure with its exciting and eclectic mix of entertainment and retail options, Koreatown is 10 minutes from Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and the Westside.”
105-Year-Old South Park Building Up for Grabs
Three years ago, real estate firm TRG acquired a century-old apartment building near L.A. Live and announced plans to convert the low-rise structure into micro lofts. With an abundance of high-rise towers now rising on adjacent properties, it seems that the ownership group is now looking to unload the diminuitive building as a potential development site.
According to Guillermo Ma, Managing Director with Concord Real Estate Services, the three-story building at 916 S. Georgia Street will soon be placed on the market for more than $8 million, as an opportunity site for either rehabilitation or redevelopment. This would represent a healthy return over the $3 million that TGR paid in 2013, and is further indication of the rapid transformation that Downtown Los Angeles has undergone within the past several years.
Hotel towers have been announced for two properties flanking 916 Georgia, including an expansion of the J.W. Marriott and an 18-story Cambria.
Larger properties have also given way for ambitious multi-tower projects, including the $1-billion Metropolis development on Francisco Street.
City Century, the American affiliate of the Chinese firm Shenlong Group, has announced plans for a similar three-tower complex across Georgia Street.
$65M Affordable Housing Project Planned In Koreatown
West Hollywood Community Housing Corp has acquired a solid chunk of land in Koreatown and has plans to develop a $65M affordable and senior housing complex there. Pictured is the developer’s Vermont Manzanita project near the border of Koreatown and Pico Union. Keyvan Moradian and Yoav Sarraf of Concord Real Estate Services arranged the deal for the housing group.
The affordable housing developer picked up the 1.76-acre site for $9.5M in an off-market deal. Plans include demolishing the senior housing complex on the site and replacing it with 186 units.
PSL Architecture will build the project in two phases. The first phase, Westmore Linden, will consist of a 95k SF apartment complex for low-income seniors with 85% of its 93 units being one-bedroom apartments, according to GlobeSt.com. The second phase will be Elden Elms, a seven-story, 93-unit complex for low-income families.
Phase 1 could be completed by fall 2018. [GS]
Another Interest Rate Hike: What’s Ahead for CRE
Commercial Property Executive
The consensus was correct: The Federal Reserve has again raised interest rates. The most recent increase was smaller than the previous four consecutive meetings that resulted in a jump of three-quarters of a percentage point.
Wednesday’s meeting went as predicted, resulting in a short-term interest rate raise by half a percentage point, bringing the federal funds rate to a range of 4.25 percent to 4.5 percent. This is the highest range seen since 2007.
The decision of how much to raise rates was a reflection on the latest data on the Consumer Price Index, including wage growth, consumer goods pricing, consumer demand, housing prices and shipping costs. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also said in past meetings the Fed’s decision is impacted by the tightness in the labor market.
Experts agreed that the Fed would raise rates by 50 basis points this week. Inflation remains higher than the central bank’s goal, indicating this raise will likely not be last. Powell said in his Wednesday speech that he anticipates ongoing increases in rates.
Multifamily Investors Face the New Year Concerned About Capital, Values
Many will be seeking to take advantage of that turbulence in the form of discounted or distressed properties, which are expected to increase throughout 2023 and into 2024 as loans mature and interest rate caps expire. Overall, however, fewer deals are expected to transact. One major reason is the bid-ask spread between buyers and sellers. Developers also expect fewer new units of multifamily housing to be built, particularly affordable apartments, because it’s increasingly difficult for deals to pencil out. New York City developers, for example, will be watching the State Legislature closely this year to see if a replacement for the expired 421a property tax exemption that incentivizes affordable housing construction will be approved.
Other trends to watch in multifamily for 2023 include creative financing deals and the continuing flight to quality.
“We’re seeing a big flight to quality in the capital markets, in terms of both debt and equity and the sponsorship they want to work with,” said Jed Resnick, CEO of New York City-based Douglaston Development. “They’re really reserving their powder for their strongest relationships with the best developers with the best track records and the highest standards of integrity and execution.”
Douglaston is building 3Eleven, a 60-story, 938 mixed-income unit apartment building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The sponsor has begun leasing and expects to complete what is currently the largest multifamily development project in Manhattan in about eight months.
As a rezoning project, Douglaston had to comply with the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirement, making 75 percent of the units affordable to families earning on average 60 percent of Area Median Income, and the Affordable NY Tax Abatement, which is the 421a incentive that required 25 percent of units to average no more than 64 percent AMI. Without a replacement for 421a, Resnick said it becomes impossible for developers to build affordable housing in high-barrier-to-entry neighborhoods.
Concord Now Owns Its Own HQ
Los Angeles Business Journal
Real estate investment firm Concord Cos. has acquired a 21,533-square-foot office building in Beverly Hills in a $17.5 million off-market transaction.
Yoav Sarraf, managing partner of subsidiary Concord Realty Partners, oversaw the purchase on behalf of the parent company. Hunt Barnett and Tony Price of L.A. Realty Partners represented the undisclosed seller in the transaction.
Ruben Bohbot of George Smith Partners arranged financing for the transaction.
The building has served as Concord’s corporate headquarters since 2014. The opportunity to purchase the property came as the result of a long-standing relationship developed with the seller over the course of many years. Located at 449 S. Beverly Drive, the property is currently 78% leased, with Concord occupying the majority of the building, primarily on the ground floor.
Concord plans an extensive renovation and modernization of the building. The company plans to maintain the midcentury charm and heritage of the building, which was built in 1954.
“Concord’s vision is to have tactical jurisdiction over our own building, which better allows for continued growth across all facets of our operations,” Concord Chief Executive Reuben Robin said in a statement. “Our objective is to have a collection of like-minded and synergistic tenants that complement each other and can benefit from our investment and service divisions, creating an environment that is beneficial to everyone in the building.”
The purchase of the property is another strategy Concord has employed to expand within the Los Angeles market and to support its growth plans. The company has recently invested in two C-suite executives, Chief Investment Officer Samuel Landman and Cayla Kondo, chief marketing officer. Landman will head up capital raising for the firm, while Kondo will lead repositioning efforts of the parent company and its subsidiaries.
With $1B in pandemic back-rent due, LA landlords scramble to survive
Los Angeles area landlords are owed more than $1 billion in back rent from the pandemic, according to data compiled by National Equity Atlas.
During the pandemic, many landlords in the National Equity Atlas’ research area of Los Angeles and Orange counties were forced to improvise to survive the pandemic’s eviction moratorium.
Universe Holdings, a company which owns and manages more than 1,000 units in Los Angeles, created a three-person task force at the beginning of the pandemic devoted to collecting rent from delinquent tenants, said Henry Manoucheri, CEO of the multifamily firm which has a Century City office.
The task force was staffed by management agents already employed by Universe. Its job was to comb through new renter regulations from different government agencies as well as understanding different situations of tenants who claimed COVID difficulties, Manoucheri said.
“There were hundreds of tenants who were delinquent on rent. Most had the money, but they wanted to take advantage of the moratorium. The (task force made) emails, text messages, door knockings, meetings and getting payment plans in writing. We did a number of cash buyouts. At the same time, we carried a lot of balance,” he said.
During the height of the pandemic, Manoucheri estimates a few of Universe’s Los Angeles buildings collected 65 percent of their rent. More recently, these buildings increased collection to 83 percent. Across Universe’s 4,000-unit multifamily portfolio, which includes other Southern California counties, as well as Florida and New Jersey, more than 96 percent of tenants paid rent on time.