Bob Safai, founder and owner of Madison Partners, brokered $135.8 million in Los Angeles-area investment deals in 1999, topped by the $54 million Wilshire Bundy Plaza sale in West L.A. at 12121 Wilshire Blvd.
Like many of Safai’s biggest deals, the Wilshire Bundy sale was an off-market transaction meaning that the seller, New York-based Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, hadn’t even listed the building.
Safai specializes in these kinds of deals, learning what kinds of properties his clients are interested in and then going to the owners and convincing them to sell. Safai estimates that up to 50 percent of his business comes from off-market deals.
Safai brokered the sale of the 300,000-square-foot Wilshire Bundy high-rise to pension-fund adviser Lowe Enterprises. For Safai, it was another opportunity to propose a win-win deal to two compatible parties.
“Bob is a creative thinker and he’s as persistent as anybody I’ve ever worked with,” said Lowe Enterprises principal Rick Newman. “He knows when there’s a deal and he’ll work tirelessly to make the deal.
“He’s an early riser like me and that worked out really well with Wilshire Bundy Plaza because TIAA is based in New York,” Newman added. “Bob also improved our communication with the seller on a particular parking structure issue and he helped us complete our underwriting.”
Safai says he approached TIAA initially and determined a price for the asset, then brought in Lowe Enterprises.
“I knew their requirements and I knew they were in the market for a specific type of asset a class-A, Westside high-rise that had the potential of increasing rents for low replacement costs,” Safai said. Both parties wanted the deal, and Safai made it happen.
While Safai says he also likes traditional brokering, he enjoys the hunt for the perfect off-market deal.
“We’re doing a tremendous amount of what I call institutional deals,” he says. “We’re approaching $1 billion in sales, and almost $500 million is in off-market deals. I enjoy doing them but there’s a certain level of challenge when you do an off-market deal, and you have to really create the market.”
Safai also brokered the $18 million, double escrow deal for the 120,000-square-foot property at 2801 Westlake Blvd. in Westlake Village and the $21 million sale of 136,000 square feet of space at 1935 Buena Vista in Burbank.
Safai’s nearest competitor, John C. Cushman III of Cushman Realty Corp., brokered $117.7 million worth of deals, followed by Michael Ross of Colliers Seeley with $108.1 million.