Drug money helping fuel new Miami condo boom?

With 32 condo towers under construction in South Florida and 70 more taking deposits for units priced at $725 to $1,000 per square foot, the South Florida Business Journal looks at the possibility that at least some of the demand for condos may be fueled by gangs laundering drug money.

Developers now expect up to 60 percent down, so deposits are funding the construction boom. According to the Miami Association of Realtors, nearly 3 out of 4 condo sales in the first half of 2013 were cash deals, and close to 9 out of 10 condo buyers in the market last year were foreigners.

“The increase in cash sales in Miami doesn’t prove there is money laundering going on, but it increases the potential for money laundering because of the lesser regulation in the cash market,” the paper reports.

Federal authorities have filed motions to seize 77 properties in Miami-Dade County in connection with criminal prosecutions, up from 59 in 2012 and 41 in 2011, Brian Bandell reports.

Josh Burdett, head of financial consulting firm TMP Risk, advises real estate professionals to do more due diligence on customers, particularly those who are using shell companies, seeking to close too quickly, or using multiple cashier’s checks. Source: bizjournals.com.