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Indiana suspends license of Lifstyl Real Estate, once an Inc. 5000 firm

Lifstyl Real Estate owner Joshua Lybolt announces Prime Real Estate will be rebranded under the Lifstyl brand in December 2018. The state recently suspended the company's real estate license.

The state of Indiana has suspended the real estate license of Lifstyl Real Estate, which had been heralded as one of the fast-growing companies in the country just a few years ago.

Previously Prime Real Estate, the real estate brokerage firm was based in Crown Point for more than a decade. The company threw swanky parties, arranged for its agents to brew their own craft beer and gained national press, including recognition by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing privately owned businesses in the country for three years in a row.

In September, the Indiana Real Estate Commission suspended the broker licenses of owners Magdalena Lybolt and Joshua Lybolt for 90 days after "significant financial disarray" in which the company fell behind on its bills and failed to meet payroll. The commission determined they “represent a clear and immediate danger to the public health, safety, and/or property if allowed to continue to practice as real estate brokers in the State of Indiana.”

Indiana real estate broker Timothy Reed volunteered to serve as managing broker of Lifstyl Real Estate while its licenses were suspended but then resigned from the role on Oct. 29, prompting the Indiana attorney general's office to seek the suspension of the firm.

"As of this filing, Respondent Lifstyl has not designed another managing broker since the time of Reed's resignation from the petition," the attorney general's office wrote in its Petition for Summary Suspension. "Upon information and belief, Respondent Lifstyl has continued to operate and process real estate transactions without a managing broker, as is required under Indiana Code."

The commission voted earlier this week to suspend Lifstyl Real Estate's company license for 90 days. The suspension can be renewed if evidence is presented that the company or individual broker “represents a clear and immediate danger to the public health, safety and/or property,” according to the Indiana attorney general's office.

The Lybolts, who founded Prime Real Estate in Crown Point in 2005, moved to Colorado last year after rebranding the company as Lifstyl Real Estate. The company's website says it does business in Colorado, Chicagoland, Michigan, southern Florida, St. Louis, Atlanta, Nashville, Lexington, Kentucky, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

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The company can no longer conduct real estate transactions in Indiana for the next 90 days, Indiana Attorney General Public Information Officer Melissa Gustafson said.

"If they are licensees in other states, the Lybolts and Lifstyl may have an obligation to report the suspension to those states," she said.

A company representative previously said they expect the Lybolts' real estate licenses to be reinstated and that Lifstyl was focused on growing in markets around the country. Lybolt referred a request for comment to his attorney, who did not immediately respond to messages.

Lifstyl Real Estates had licenses for five branch offices and 80 real estate agents in Indiana, according to Indiana Real Estate Commission filings. The company had been named to the prestigious Inc. 5000 every year between 2016 and 2018, when it claimed to have grown 197% over the previous three years.

The company claimed to have more than $220 million a year in annual sales and has garnered national press, including from CBS News, the International Business Times and Forbes Magazine.

The Indiana attorney general's office said the company recently began "failing to meet a significant number of its financial obligations, and in doing so has caused significant financial damages to its brokers, clients and employees," according to the state's Petition for Summary Suspension. Paychecks failed to clear Sept. 3, and real estate agents have filed complaints with the state that the company has not paid them money they are owed, such as management fees and money they spent out-of-pocket on improvements to properties, according to state filings.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.