South Florida by the numbers: No more secret luxury buyers edition

Jan.January 22, 2016 09:45 AM

“South Florida by the numbers” is a web feature that catalogs the most notable, quirky and surprising real estate statistics.

The Treasury Department sure has a funny way of saying “Happy New Year.” Just as Miami real estate was over its holiday hangover and gearing up for a busy 2016, the Feds announced a major new initiative to identify and track secret buyers of expensive real estate here and in New York.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) aims to fight money laundering by forcing title insurance companies to identify the “natural persons” behind shell companies that purchase high-end properties using cash in these markets — a legal tactic used by many buyers (particularly from overseas) to protect their identities. This initiative is likely to have a dramatic impact on all facets of Miami real estate: agents, brokers, developers, investors, and lenders — particularly those who specialize in the luxury market. Let’s learn more about it in this January edition of “South Florida by the numbers”.

$1 Million: Beginning March 1, the limit of what shell companies can spend in cash on a Miami property, if they want to avoid disclosing the “true” owners. Anything above $1 million will require title insurance companies to disclose that information to federal authorities. [The Real Deal]

180: Number of days the GTO (Geographic Targeting Order) will be in place, from March 1 through August 27. However, a senior FBI official has stated the agency “fully intends” to expand the time frame and geography of the investigation. [Inman]

1,150: The number of Miami-Dade homes that sold for $1 million or higher in 2015 AND were paid for in cash, according to EWM Realty. Cash deals accounted for 60 percent of home sales valued at more than $1 million. [MiamiHerald]

More than 44,000: According to Florida Realtors research, the number of Florida properties purchased by international buyers in the year ending in June 2015. More than one-third of those purchases took place in Miami. [Sun Sentinel]

3.6 percent: According to the Miami Association of Realtors, the percentage of all-cash luxury transactions in Miami. [The Real Deal]

This column is produced by the Master Brokers Forum, a network of South Florida’s elite real estate professionals where membership is by invitation only and based on outstanding production, as well as ethical and professional behavior.

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