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Resource ID: #23037
Subject: Real Estate
Source: Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)
Date: 10/22; 10/24; 10/25; 10/26; 11/5; 11/9; 11/21; 12/17; 12/30



This investigation examined dozens of unusual real estate deals in working-class neighborhoods in which buyers made low-ball offers to desperate sellers. The recorded sales prices, however, were tens of thousands of dollars more. These deals happened during a precipitous decline in Florida’s housing boom. In each transaction, the buyers borrowed close to the full amount from lenders. The investigations showed that the money between the price paid to the sellers and the recorded sales prices was paid to a third party. This was not always disclosed to the lenders, which is against state and federal law. All the deals involved the same real estate agent, the same title company and the same group of buyers. The same appraiser was used in many of the cases, and the appraisals reflected the higher price. As a result of the inflated prices, property values were artificially raised for the rest of the neighborhoods, resulting in higher taxes.

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