Treasury Department to track secret buyers

by Justin da Rosa14 Jan 2016
The industry will soon have a better sense of the influence foreign buyers – who pay cash for homes – have on various real estate markets across the country.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued Geographic Targeting Orders that will temporarily require title insurance companies to identify cash buyers of high-end real estate in Manhattan, New York, and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

FinCEN is concerned foreign cash buyers could be done by nefarious purchasers who are trying to park money in American real estate.

“We are seeking to understand the risk that corrupt foreign officials, or transnational criminals, may be using premium U.S. real estate to secretly invest millions in dirty money,” FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said in a release. “Over the years, our rules have evolved to make the standard mortgage market more transparent and less hospitable to fraud and money laundering.

“But cash purchases present a more complex gap that we seek to address,” Calvery continued. “These GTOs will produce valuable data that will assist law enforcement and inform our broader efforts to combat money laundering in the real estate sector.”

It’s an initiative the industry will surely welcome.

“Does foreign money influence the market? Yeah, but we don’t yet know to what extent,” Mike Canan, broker associate with Coldwell Banker, told Mortgage Professional America. “There is a vast amount of foreign buyers purchasing from many different countries. This data could be used to get a better sense of their influence.”

The Geographic Testing Orders will be in effect for 180 days, starting March 1. They will expire on August 27.


  • by Bill B. Realtor, NH | 1/14/2016 11:26:23 AM

    I agree with the GTO and getting a better sense of the extent of money laundering in cash real estate deals. My experience with cash deals are no where near these dollar amounts in NYC or Miami, and have been limited to New Hampshire. The involvement of Title Insurance is optional for cash deals. By Title Insurance Company, do they actually mean the Closing/Title Service Company or the Real Estate Attorney?


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