South Florida home values still rising, but 21% off peak

South Florida home values rose slightly from February to March and are up 6 percent since March 2016, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index.

But home values in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties remain 21 percent off their peak levels. (Zillow reached a similar conclusion about Palm Beach County prices last week.)

Seattle boasts the nation’s hottest big-city housing market. Values there spiked 12 percent in the past year.

Proton therapy center lands $81 million financing for Delray Beach facility

Rendering of proton therapy center in Delray Beach.

For years, hospitals and physician groups have proposed building a proton therapy center in Palm Beach County. Those plans never panned out, presumably because the cancer-treatment centers are prohibitively expensive.

But a plan for a proton therapy center at Tenet Healthcare’s Delray Medical Center remains on track. Proton International of Louisville, Kentucky, this month closed on an $81.3 million bond issue that will pay for the 40,000-square-foot facility, according to a mortgage.

The facility will be open for photon patients in 2018 and proton patients in 2019, Proton International said.

With proton therapy, doctors aim a high-speed stream of positively charged particles at a cancerous tumor. Unlike chemotherapy, which bombards a patient’s body with radiation, protons release more of their energy into the tumor and nowhere else, thus saving healthy tissue.

Seen as a safer alternative to chemotherapy, protons are used to treat tumors of the brain and central nervous system, spine, head and neck, lung, prostate, liver, gastrointestinal tract and colon, and some breast tumors. Because children are especially sensitive to radiation therapy, doctors often use protons to treat juvenile cancer.

In early 2012, Boca Raton Regional Hospital said it would spend $120 million to build a proton center on Glades Road. At the same time, South Florida Radiation Oncology was scouting locations for its own proton facility. Neither project was built.

Landlord at Rennova’s West Palm Beach headquarters files eviction notice

Gov. Rick Scott visits the headquarters of Rennova Health. The company was known as Medytox at the time.

Troubled drug-testing firm Rennova Health (Nasdaq: RNVA) faces another financial woe: The landlord at its West Palm Beach headquarters is seeking eviction.

Building owner Southern Management and Development on May 18 sent Rennova a “three-day notice to pay rent or give possession,” according to court filings. The company said Rennova owes nearly $85,000 for its 5,800-square-foot space at 400 S. Australian Ave, the landlord said. When Rennova didn’t pay, Southern Management and Development this week filed an eviction notice.

Medytox’s landlord last year sued for unpaid rent. Previously known as Medytox Solutions, Rennova has seen revenue plummet amid a regulatory crackdown on drug-treatment centers that order tests.

“We provide an excellent service in the sector, but the facilities themselves, our customers, have undergone a lot of scrutiny as has the medical necessity of a lot of tests that they use to treat their patients,” Rennova Chief Executive Seamus Lagan said earlier this year.

The company missed payroll at least once and has clung to its Nasdaq listing only after a 1-for-30 reverse split of shares. In a dramatic change of strategy, the company in December paid $1 million for a twice-shuttered hospital in a poor part of rural Tennessee.

Members of Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors approve merger

Members of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors voted overwhelmingly in favor of a merger that creates the nation’s third-largest local association.

Among Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches members who cast ballots, 99 percent voted in favor, Chief Executive Dionna Hall said Thursday. Among Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors members, nearly 98 percent voted yes, President Ron Lennen said Thursday.

The merger is expected to take effect in mid-June. The combined group will have 25,000 members, making it the third-largest regional Realtor association in the country after organizations in Miami and Houston.

The tentative name of the new group: Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale

The marriage means savings of a few hundred dollars a year for agents in Boca Raton, who often join both associations.

Before their merger was announced earlier this month, the two associations had been in off-and-on negotiations for more than a decade.

Talk of a combination was renewed after the Miami Association of Realtors in 2015 expanded into Palm Beach County by buying Jupiter Tequesta Hobe Sound Association of Realtors. That move led to speculation that the Broward and Palm Beach associations might join forces to fend off the growing Miami group.

The Miami association bought the Jupiter Tequesta Hobe Sound association in 2015, a deal that spurred a lawsuit and accusations of fraud by the Palm Beach group against the Miami association.

The expansion-minded Miami Association of Realtors has 46,000 members — more than many state associations of Realtors — and is the nation’s largest local Realtor association. The Miami Association of Realtors reported $16 million in revenue in the year ended June 30, 2015, dwarfing the revenues of the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach associations.

In 2011, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors filed suit in federal court against the Miami Association of Realtors, saying the Miami group aimed to poach its members. And in 2015, the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches sued the Miami group, alleging fraud related to access to the MLS.


HUD Secretary Ben Carson sells West Palm Beach house after mold fix

Ben Carson and Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in March. Photo by Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News

Ben Carson, President Donald Trump’s housing secretary, sold his house in Ibis Country Club for $920,000, listing agent Arthur Martens of Engel & Volkers said Thursday.

Carson had been asking $1.2 million for the 7,800-square-foot home in West Palm Beach. An inspection revealed that a roof leak caused a mold outbreak in the house, Martens said, and the buyer and Carson agreed to replace the roof. The leak apparently was there when Carson bought the house in 2013, Martens said.

Palm Beach County homes priced at more than $600,000 are moving slowly, Realtors say.

“The country club communities, especially Ibis, are still struggling,” Martens said.

Still, Carson — a former doctor turned author and politician — made a profit on the home. He paid $775,000 for the Ibis house in 2013. Ben and Lacena Carson last year paid $4.375 million for a larger house in Palm Beach Gardens.

The deed for the Ibis sale isn’t publicly available, but Martens said the deal closed Friday. The buyers, Stephen and Barbara Lustgarten, already owned a home in Ibis, he said.


Palm Beach County home values still 21% off peak, Zillow says

Home values nationally finally have returned to 2007 levels. In Palm Beach County, however, property prices remain more than 21 percent off their boomtime peak, according to Zillow.

U.S. home values rose to a median of $198,000 in April, Zillow said Thursday. During the housing boom, home values hit a peak of $196,600.

In Palm Beach County, the median home value was $252,600 in April. By Zillow’s reckoning, home values here hit a peak of $320,500 in March 2006.

Top 5 money regrets: See where not saving, too much student debt rank

(Getty Images)

By some measures, the U.S. economy is doing great. Stocks are near all-time highs and unemployment has returned to pre-recession lows.

Even so, Americans have faced a volatile decade of financial ups and downs. Palm Beach Gardens-based asked Americans to look in the rear-view mirror and report their biggest regrets about money.

The top 5:

  1. Not saving enough for retirement. Most families have no retirement savings, and those who have built a nest egg possess only tiny amounts, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The typical household headed by someone in his late 50s to early 60s has just $17,000 — and that’s the most well-heeled age group. “I’ve never met a person who regretted saving money,” says Bankrate analyst Mark Hamrick.
  2. Not having an emergency savings account. A separate study by Bankrate found more than a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings — leaving them with nothing for an unexpected car repair or medical bill.
  3. Too much credit card debt. The average household with credit card debt carries more than $16,000 on plastic, NerdWallet reports. Depending on the interest rates on your cards, that debt load could rack up $3,000 a year in interest charges.
  4. Too much student loan debt. With tuition inflation reaching runaway levels, student debt is at an all-time high — and some hapless borrowers are taking on six-figure loans. Tellingly, this regret ranks No. 4 among all age groups but No. 1 among those ages 27 to 36, Bankrate says.
  5. Not saving enough for children’s college costs. See No. 4.




Boca Raton mosque pays $4.9 million for 19 acres

The Islamic Center of Boca Raton

The Islamic Center of Boca Raton paid $4.9 million for 19 acres along Lyons Road west of Delray Beach, according to property records.

The nonprofit has no plans for the land for now, said Bassem Alhalabi, president of the Islamic Center.

“We bought it for future expansion — maybe in 10 years, 15 years,” Alhalabi said.

The organization operates a mosque and school on 6.6 acres it owns near Florida Atlantic University. The Islamic Center made headlines last year when Palm Beach County elections officials made it a polling place, then, after protests, decided not to collect ballots there.

The Islamic Center bought the Lyons Road land from A-I Holdings of Boca Raton and took a $3.3 million mortgage from the seller, according to property records. Islam prohibits followers from paying or collecting interest, so Muslim buyers typically don’t finance real estate deals with standard mortgages.

In this case, the Islamic Center is paying for the land in installments, Alhalabi said.

While many Muslims and immigrant groups have hunkered down since President Donald Trump was elected, Alhalabi said the Islamic Center is confident enough to make a sizable investment.

“The Muslim community is part of this community, part of the fabric of this society,” Alhalabi said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

Meanwhile, the mosque has been an outspoken critic of terrorism.

“Terrorism is not a religious identity, rather it is a horrific behavior often justified by misapplied religious dogma,” the Islamic Center says on its website. “ICBR [Islamic Center of Boca Raton], in accordance to its sole purpose and understanding of Islam, stands firm on the condemnation of all forms and acts of terrorism. The ill acts of a few misguided individuals shall not be viewed as the mainstream of Islam and Muslims.”


Broward bank takes naming rights on West Palm Beach office building — but will sign read Stonegate or Centennial?

500 Clearlake. Photo courtesy Colliers International.

The office building at 500 S. Australian Ave. is about to be adorned with a sign visible from Interstate 95. One small matter is still to be decided: Will the letters be Stonegate Bank green or Centennial Bank blue?

Stonegate Bank of Pompano Beach signed a 5,588-square-foot lease at 500 S. Australian that includes a ground-floor branch and top-floor office space.

Meanwhile, Stonegate in March announced a $750 million merger with Centennial Bank parent Home BancShares of Conway, Arkansas. The merger is expected to close later this year.

If the deal goes through as planned, Stonegate will change names to Centennial. As for the lease on Australian, it’s part of Stonegate’s expansion in Palm Beach County, said Chief Executive David Seleski.

“We think that’s a great location,” Seleski said.

While Wells Fargo’s name is on the building next door, 500 S. Australian has never sold signage, said Tom Burst, a Colliers International broker who represented the landlord in the lease.

“That’s a sign you can see from I-95, so it becomes a major presence in the market,” Burst said.


United Country, United Realty keep battling over name

How much is a name worth? A lot, in the case of United Realty Group and United Country Real Estate.

United Country Real Estate of Kansas City, Missouri, last year filed a trademark infringement suit against United Realty Group, a fast-growing brokerage with offices in Royal Palm Beach, Wellington and Boca Raton. But United Realty didn’t back down, and the two companies recently concluded a four-day bench trial before a federal judge in Miami.

United Country, which has offices in Stuart and Naples, said it has operated since 1925 and trademarked the United brand in 1978. Fearing “confusion” from the similar names, United Country said it made its concerns known by sending United Realty “multiple written notices.”

United Realty’s response: United is such a common name that no one company can claim it.

United Realty pointed to dozens of other real estate companies around the nation that use the United name. A partial inventory: Young United Realty and United Professional Realty in Broward County, United Realty Consultants in Martin County, United Realty International and RE/MAX United Realty in Miami-Dade County, United Realty Corp. of Ocala and United Realty Ventures in Largo.

United Realty is a fast-growing company that has been adding agents with a 100 percent model. Agents keep their entire commission but pay the company a fee of $299 per transaction.