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New York Home Valuation Firm Sues Trump Over Inflated Home Values

With a focus on residential real estate valuations, James brings over 20 years of experience to the table. He is engaged exclusively in providing USPAP compliant appraisal reports for lending, reviews, purchase price negotiations, equitable distribution, eminent domain, tax assessment, estates and gift & inheritance tax purposes.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has set her sights on Donald Trump’s property empire to satisfy a hefty fine, with the latest development a potentially significant hurdle: a sharp drop in home values.

That’s because the valuations are used to determine how much taxes people pay on their property, which is a factor in how large their tax bill will be. And since real estate prices are on the decline across the nation, many homeowners are expecting their tax bills to go up significantly.

The reassessment numbers are based on comparable sales of land and buildings in the county, as well as an analysis of how properties have performed over time. “There is no one formula,” said Dayle Gallagher, director of the county’s real estate assessment division. “It is a complex process.”

James’s lawsuit alleges that the Trump Organization has inflated its assets and the value of the president’s personal and business James Sanson properties. A recent court ruling alleged that the company overstated Trump’s net worth by billions in financial statements issued to banks and insurers to secure loans, and inflated the value of his real estate holdings.

But as media reports and public records reveal, the Trump Organization’s real-estate “empire” is far smaller than his branding suggests. In fact, a recent Newsweek article found that just 17 buildings in Manhattan carry the Trump name.

The other seven are in a conservation easement or have been sold, and the remaining ones are subject to a long-term ground lease that could be terminated at any time by a new owner.

James’s lawsuit has led to subpoenas for the commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, which assessed many of the Seven Springs properties; law firms that worked on those projects; and the Trump Organization itself. The county’s assessor has also been subpoenaed to provide his own assessment data on the properties. And the Seven Springs town clerk says investigators have received “boxes and boxes” of documents from the three towns that the project spans.