Re: Tax foe fueled crisis he decries | May 25 column by Dan DeWitt
Wow, I must be doing something right to warrant my first "attack" article. I feel compelled to arm the people with the truth, much the same way I felt compelled to arm residents with the facts at last year's government waste seminars.
This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to discredit my message to residents. Since 2003, according to the Hernando County Property Appraiser's Web site, homes changed hands 29,379 times. It would seem kind of strange that DeWitt charged me with fueling the housing crisis with my relatively minuscule 453 homes, representing a little more than one-tenth of 1 percent of all transactions in Hernando.
I am not a "tax foe" as the headline erroneously described. I am not antitax. Never was, never will be. I am, however, anti-wasteful spending, which translates into higher-than-necessary taxation.
The seminars last summer were informational, yet DeWitt described me as the "local face of tax revolt." All I did was arm residents with information on how the county was spending their money. The information was factual. Where is this "history of distorting facts," as DeWitt so ineloquently put it? I do not believe DeWitt even attended the seminars.
Speaking of distorting facts, and for that matter selectively omitting key information, let's discuss DeWitt's charges that I played a "key role in luring speculators to Hernando County" that helped "fuel" the crisis, and that I flipped lots, adding to the problem.
In 2004, I was approached by Realtors from all over Florida and the rest of the country. My company, and the homes I construct, were a sought-after commodity by real estate investors because we deliver a quality home at a low cost. The agents who were selling my properties were independent third parties to whom we paid a commission. We did not actively pursue these relationships or assist in their independent marketing plan. It wasn't until late 2006 that my company decided to go directly to the investor, cutting out the waste and saving my clients tens of thousands of dollars per transaction.
Many homes in Royal Highlands are in foreclosure and, yes, many of them are owned by investors. What DeWitt conveniently left out was that my company was not the only one building for investors in Royal Highlands. There were at least six others I can think of. Why would he single me out? Are you aware, Mr. DeWitt, that we only constructed 19 homes for investors in Royal Highlands by virtue of our own marketing? You did know that. I told you on the phone. I believe I also told you that zero (zip, zilch, nada) are in foreclosure. Wow! A 0 percent default rate in this "crisis." In addition, we still have many clients who, even in this down market, are sitting pretty with more than $50,000 in equity. It's called delivering a superior product at a reduced cost. I wish government could do the same.
To set the record straight, those 200 or so lots DeWitt claimed I "flipped" are lots I purchased and subsequently built homes on for my clients. Since when does a builder or developer "flip" when selling home-and-lot packages?
And last, but not least, DeWitt said that "real estate speculators are far more to blame for inflated property taxes than politicians." He even quoted real estate analyst Jack McCabe as saying the root cause was "the tremendous amount of flipping back and forth." Mr. DeWitt, are you aware that, according to Forbes magazine, Mr. McCabe is the architect behind a proposed $250-million "vulture fund" designed to flip a billion dollars worth of properties? He is the ultimate real estate flipper.
The next time you try to discredit me, do some research first.
Blaise Ingoglia owns several businesses in Hernando County and was the presenter of last fall's "Government Gone Wild" seminars. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.