Friday, October 06, 2006

Old-Fashioned Land Scams Go High-Tech

The Internet is reviving a grand old American tradition: land scams. Thousands of lots in phantom subdivisions that were sold decades ago to people who hoped to build retirement homes in warm states are reappearing on online sites such as the Internet giant eBay.

The new wave of land scams has the potential to snooker millions more around the world because of the Internet's broad and instantaneous reach.

Many of the lots being sold have never been developed because they are on swampland in Florida or isolated desert ranchland in Texas and Arizona. There is no road access, water or power. The land might be developed someday, but county officials who are busy processing a surge in deed transfers are skeptical.

Land scams are surfacing in:

Florida. The state has a long history of bogus land deals. In Flagler County, a scam that began in the 1970s was revived recently when the same lots in a subdivision that has yet to be built appeared on eBay. Some paid $5,000 for parcels worth $500, Daytona Beach land-use lawyer Glenn Storch says.

West Texas. Land there is plentiful, but not always hospitable. Arid acreage in Jeff Davis, Hudspeth and Culberson counties has been auctioned online to some unsuspecting buyers.
"Much of the property was advertised with photos showing things like running water, green trees and green grass — things that simply don't exist in that particular location," Medley says.

Arizona. "A huge problem," says Utley, whose agency monitors real estate agents and developers. "We actually don't even have enough staff to address it." read more

By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Worldwide Office Market Fundamentals Continue to Improve

"As anticipated, office markets in all regions of the world strengthened during the first half of 2006. Spurred by a healthy global economy, office buildings generally experienced improved occupancies and commanded higher rents. Many of the word’s financial centers registered double-digit rent increases as multi-national corporations in particular continued to secure high quality premises in the anticipation of dwindling supply. While select cities across the globe are experiencing a building boom, many of the larger more mature markets are still characterized by relatively little construction. Energy costs along with rising interest rates continued to be cause for concern, but still relatively loose monetary conditions and a robust trade environment continue to support a buoyant global economy that is anticipated to grow by almost 5.0% in 2006. Looking forward to 2007, office markets are expected to moderate slightly but the general trend is for still lower vacancy and higher rents."

According to the Colliers International mid-year Global Office Real Estate review, which assesses the worldwide commercial property markets in 50 countries, Moscow ranks highest with the Russian capital boasting an estimated 26.90 million square feet of ongoing commercial property construction.

With over 24 million square feet of commercial office space currently under development, Dubai has been ranked a close second in the world in terms of office real estate construction activity.

According to the report, Asia's commercial construction industry is also thriving. China's ongoing economic boom was evident with Beijing and Shanghai placed third and fourth in the global rankings with 23.58 million square feet and 21.61 million square feet respectively of office space under construction. In addition, Tokyo Central Wards, Guangzhou, Kuala Lampur and Hong Kong, were ranked nine through 12 respectively.

Ranked fifth was South Africa's most populous city, Johannesburg, which is currently undertaking 17.87 million square feet of office space construction. Only one European city finished in the top ten rankings, Paris, which is currently undertaking 14.61 million square feet of commercial development.