The beginning of the end of “CONCEAL estate”?


Earlier today, the publisher of a leading real estate news site posted this comment on Facebook:

“Foreign buyers are not as active as before due to the value of the dollar, says Realogy CEO Richard Smith, but not meaningful to the business.”

My response there:

Is it just the “value of the dollar” or are we beginning to see the beginning of the end of “CONCEAL estate”? (share via social media)

Wonder why the impact of foreign investment hasn’t become more visible in the presidential campaign. When newspapers like the NYPost are beginning to address the issue, can progressives like Bernie Sanders be far behind?

“…countries inundated with illicit cash are developing real estate bubbles and high housing costs for ordinary residents.”

Money laundering and real estate speculation may not be meaningful to “the business,” but tell that to a generation of millennials who are bidding against foreign buyers, or places like Vancouver that are becoming economic ghost towns, or boomers in Greater Boston who are discovering that the economics of downsizing no longer work.

What’s to be done? We’ve got thoughts — in fact, to our proposal to use blockchain to regulate blind bidding wars won first place in an MIT hackathon a month ago (see intro video). Who wants to explore that approach and other policy options, online or offline in Boston / Cambridge?  One city councilor is interested, who else should be invited?  Send nominees via email to

Here are some idea starters from around the world, courtesy of an article pushed yesterday in Vancouver Business:

“Whether it’s a surtax on luxury homes offset by income, as proposed by a group of University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University economists, or a stamp duty on foreign buyers (as in Hong Kong and the U.K.) or outright restrictions on foreign ownership of certain properties (as in Australia, Alberta and Prince Edward Island) or different property transfer tax rates for non-residents or a progressive property tax rate, it’s past time for a co-ordinated government effort…” (share via social media)

What would a coordinated effort look like in Greater Boston — should we explore that with the civic tech community as well as planning efforts currently underway in Boston and Cambridge?  At a minimum, might be a good topic to convene two MeetUps at the intersection of a transformative new technology — Boston Blockchain & Massachusetts Legal Hackers.


Posted in Affordable housing, Bidding wars, Blockchain, Consumer protection, Housing bubble, Housing Justice, Luxury housing, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance

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