At a time when Florida real-estate agents are bracing for the worst as the state prepares to celebrate its first anniversary of a historic tax break for homes in high-priced neighborhoods, the Florida Department of Revenue is investigating an agent who sold a $1 million house at a price that would have been prohibitively expensive for the average homeowner.
According to records obtained by Axios, the agent, James G. Pritzker, sold the property in a five-bedroom house for $1,085,000 in the Beverly Hills area in October of last year, when it was valued at more than $1 billion.
Pritcheker, a real estate broker with Pritzkers Real Estate Group in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., did not respond to a request for comment from Axios.
The deal was reportedly done in part with a “penny-pinching” fee that Pritzers had previously negotiated with the city of Beverly Hills, according to records provided to Axios by the city.
But Pritzgers’ attorney told Axios that “the commission had no role in the purchase,” and the city has since removed the fee.
In a statement provided to the Tampa Bay Times, Pritz’s attorney, Peter Nardelli, called the transaction a “complete misrepresentation of the terms of the agreement.”
The city of Palm Beach, which has about 2,500 residents and has a median home value of about $1MM, has since reversed the fee paid to Pritz.
The city also removed the $750,000 fee that the broker paid the city, according a statement by Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
“It’s time for our government to step in and prevent a repeat of the Beverly Hays debacle,” Jacobs said in the statement.
The Beverly Hills tax break was approved in 2015, and it has allowed residents of the affluent, upscale neighborhood to enjoy significant tax breaks, including a 30 percent discount on city property taxes, which have risen by more than 10 percent in the last two years, according the Tampa Tribune.
The tax break is paid for by property taxes paid by residents of affluent neighborhoods, but the city can also levy fees on the property that can be as high as 20 percent.
The revenue from those fees has helped the city cover some of its $50 million budget deficit, but it is still in the red.
In July, the Beverly Beach City Council approved a tax increase to $2.4 million, but that tax increase is now slated to expire at the end of 2018.