I think it was Mark Twain who advised people to buy land because God wasn’t making any more of it. He also said, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe when the Legislature’s in session.” His last witticism may have been more accurate than the first.
Look around the country where condos and residential high rises are being bought up by foreign investors. In Florida, California, Texas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, senior citizens are buying small retirement homes where they hope to be comfortably living out their years. But as more and more of these apartments are turned into rentals, property values have plummeted.
Teresa Fusco of Reading, Pennsylvania found herself in a stunning situation. Her condo at Deer Path Woods was initially appraised at more than a hundred thousand dollars. She was one of eleven families who owned their homes outright. Ninety seven other units were held by renters, but the appraisals all said the units were worth about a hundred-thousand each.
Then, Teresa learned that an investor was buying up all those rental units for about $7200 apiece, essentially giving himself almost 90% control of the entire complex.
It gets deeper, still.
The investor said that now he had all the votes he needed to control the association he promptly dissolved it. Throwing his new found weight around even more, the investor announced he was putting the entire complex up for sale. He got himself a new bulk appraisal which said the complex was worth far less than anyone imagined and the condominium was suddenly on the auction block.
Any guesses as to who the top bidder was? Yep, the same investor who bought up all the rental units he had initially purchased and put up for auction. Except he now owned all those units which were once in private hands. Hands like those of Teresa Fusco.
Those former homeowners are just shaking their heads in bewilderment. This kind of thing can’t happen in America can it?
Well, it happened in Pennsylvania.