The recent all-cash sale of a Belleair estate for $6.7 million shows that big cash deals are not limited to international hot spots like Miami and Manhattan.
In the past two years, 450 buyers have paid cash for Tampa Bay homes costing more than $1 million. The vast majority of those buyers have been open about their ownership. But federal authorities suspect that’s not the case in New York City and Miami-Dade, where high numbers of anonymous, all-cash sales might be fronts for money laundering.
In March, the U.S. Treasury Department began requiring title insurers to identify and file information on the owners of limited liability companies — LLCs — that pay more than $1 million cash for property in Miami and more than $3 million in Manhattan.
The purpose, one Treasury official said, is to see whether “corrupt foreign officials or transnational criminals may be using premium U.S. real estate to secretly invest millions in dirty money.”
LLCs protect their owners from personal liability and also help shield their names. They are perfectly legal, and many cash buyers in the Tampa Bay area use them. But that type of sale is not very common at the priciest end of the bay area’s residential market, a Tampa Bay Times analysis found.
In the past two years, 307 homes in Pinellas and 133 in Hillsborough have sold for more than $1 million in cash. Of those, 58 — 13 percent — were bought by LLCs, a far lower rate than recent media reports indicate for Manhattan.
Among the bay area properties owned by LLCs are a $3 million mansion on Tampa’s Davis Islands, a $3 million home on Tierra Verde and a $3.3 million condo in Belleair Shore.