Hawaii has a thriving market in luxury residential real estate. But could some of it really be money laundering?
Last week the Treasury Department announced an investigation of home sales in two places. In March it will examine cash real estate purchases in Miami and Manhattan. But a weekend report in the New York Times has one small but significant change.
It says, the initiative will START in Miami and Manhattan, which raises the possibility that Hawaii could one day also be under this particular microscope. Most home sales with price tags running into millions of dollars are made for cash. It makes sense for people who are legitimately wealthy, but is also works for money laundering.
What the feds are doing, or WILL be doing in Miami and Manhattan starting in March, will be to require disclosure of the true owners of shell companies set up for the purposes of buying an expensive home. If most luxury home sales are entirely-on the up-and-up, there is no reason for this to have much effect on the overall number of expensive real estate transactions.
But we'll see. And we'll see if the feds extend their scrutiny to Hawaii.
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