Florida Real Estate This Week: The Good, the Sad and the Ugly
While the Fort Lauderdale condo market and Broward home sales trended upward, news broke Broward Chief Judge Victor Tobin was resigning his position to work for a law firm that has been called one of the largest foreclosure mills in the state. In national news, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into the banks’ role in the financial meltdown, and former Wall Street hotshot Raj Rajaratnam was convicted of 14 counts of fraud and conspiracy.
As these banksters fall behind bars, the smoking gun question remains: Why Wall Street isn’t in jail?
Sales up and inventories down. On a high note, reports this week are encouraging for Broward County. The Miami Association of Realtors released data that condo sales increased 8 percent from April 2010 to April of this year, while single-family home sales increased by 2 percent. As is the trend for today’s buyer, cash transactions represented 67 percent of April’s residential sales. 60 percent of sales were to overseas buyers, many of whom also paid in cash. The Association also reported inventory levels continue to fall, decreasing 20 percent since May 2010 and 5.1 percent from last month. This contradicts national trends: total housing inventory rose 9.9 percent last month. Condo Vultures adds that the Fort Lauderdale condo market is improving almost at the rate of Miami’s, which until recently was considered an anomaly in today’s market.
Surprise departures. Just when you thought nothing could surprise you – Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post broke the story that Broward Chief Judge Victor Tobin will be leaving his position to join the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson. In a terse letter addressed to Governor Rick Scott, Tobin thanked the State of Florida and the electorate of Broward County for his 15-year tenure, offering no explanation as to why he is resigning three years before the end of his term. Several local attorneys questioned the decision, including Palm Beach County Chief Judge Peter Blanc, who foresees other chief judges following suit. “I think you will see a lot of judges deciding that they’ve had enough, and it will be judges at the top of their game,” Blanc said of the possibility of increasing resignations due to the ability to earn more in the private sector. “Is that a good thing? I don’t think it’s a good thing.”
Fraud and deception continue. Earlier this week, Oppenheim Law published a commentary about the conviction of billionaire investor Raj Rajaratnam on 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud. Formerly known for running one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Rajaratnam is the most prominent figure to date convicted in the government’s crackdown on Wall Street insider trading. The prosecuting attorney declared Wednesday that “there are rules and there are laws, and they apply to everyone, no matter who you are or how much money you have.” While the latest turn of events is merely the tip of the iceberg, Oppenheim Law continues to spotlight this never-ending tale of fraud and deception.
In case you missed the premiere episode of From The Trenches, a talk show dedicated to Florida real estate, tune in to Oppenheim Law’s YouTube Channel for the replay.
From The Trenches