The plaintiffs in the case are admitted "flippers" - purchased pre-development units while planning to sell them before closing. The plaintiffs had to put up close to a quarter-million dollars for a unit and now are about to lose their deposits since they are unwilling to close on the property.
The plaintiffs blame development delays and incomplete work for not being able to sell before closing. They feel they were defrauded by the real estate company and the Santa Maria developers who they allege promised them a huge return on their investment.
Most local reaction has been against the flippers - saying, as in today's Citizen's Voice, "I have no sympathy for those who bought the Santa Maria condos. Come on...a fool and their money are soon parted."
I'll admit, my initial reaction was the same.
But maybe we should look at what realtors in general have been saying, and questioning if they have been irresponsible in their "buy at no limits" pitch. I've pointed out more than once Regina Corcoran's (a realtor) foolish advice to load up a credit card to purchase a house.
There was a time in the US that purchasing stocks was considered a gamble, and if an investor lost his or her money then tough luck. But that attitude changed in the late 1980s - when courts, states, and regulators began to look at stock brokers as fiduciaries with a responsibility to the financial welfare of their clients. Maybe it is time for realtors to be treated as fiduciaries and not be allowed to bury a client in an investment. And what about the idea that the realtors and developer may have actually committed fraud by promising gains to these plaintiffs, knowing that these purchasers couldn't afford to close on the property?
So, how bad were the Santa Maria purchases? Apparently horrible.
It is no wonder why the plaintiffs cannot sell the units. They are priced at $1401 per square foot! With the crash in the condo market, these units are priced at more than twice what nearly any other condo costs.
Seriously, $1.3 million dollars for a 907 square foot condo? (and for another $200,000 you can own a "larger unit" with an extra 38 square feet. That works out to $5263 per square foot for the extra 38 square foot area).
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