Buying real estate with cash is perfectly legal in most cases. But it has been a murky side to US anti-money laundering laws at the luxury end of the residential property market. A disproportionate share of cash-based, premium real-estate purchases has been through shell companies, especially in New York, Miami, and San Francisco. That structuring activity has obscured the beneficial owner because there have been no material reporting standards in place. Officials are now closing the loophole in part by requiring title companies to report cash transactions. The step was expected, despite the fact that the real-estate industry has lobbied against attempts to reframe regulations for years. Fears that implementing new guidelines would upend fragile local economies may have made sense in the wake of the credit crisis. That argument is no longer convincing. ■
Learn more at The New York Times.
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