The Real Deal New York

A look at the State Department’s 174-home portfolio

As a taxpayer, your real estate holdings are actually pretty sweet

October 02, 2016 05:00PM

Villa Taverna in Rome

Villa Taverna in Rome

From a 15th-century Roman villa to a redbrick neo-Georgian mansion in London, the U.S. government owns some of the most valuable houses in the world. In fact, the State Department has a portfolio of 174 residences.

In Rome, the American government’s Villa Taverna sits on seven acres in one of Rome’s most exclusive neighborhoods. It includes a Roman sarcophagus dating to the third century, ancient Egyptian granite columns, a swimming pool and a tennis court, according to the Wall Street Journal. But here’s the real kicker: a 2010 Office of the Inspector General’s report estimated its value at anywhere from “$500 million to $1 billion.”

Winfield House

Winfield House in London

Cuban embassy

Cuban embassy

The U.S. owns a similarly valuable property in London, a 12-acre estate next to Regent’s Park named Winfield House.

Then there is the neoclassical limestone residence in the upscale Miramar neighborhood of Havana, where President Barack Obama stayed in March, and the Beaux Arts villa in Hanoi. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.

So how many billions is the government’s residential portfolio worth? Turns out, there is just no way to say.

Christy Foushee, spokesperson for the Overseas Buildings Operations bureau, told the Journal that there is no program to track the current property values.

“The task of performing regular appraisals for such a diverse mix of historic properties in capital cities across the globe, many in opaque markets, would be an expensive and time consuming effort that hasn’t been considered a good use of taxpayer dollars without a compelling reason, such as an imminent sale,” Foushee said. [WSJ]Christopher Cameron

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