UPI baselessly asserted that Obama paid "substantially lower than market value" for Rezko property

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

United Press International reported that Barack Obama "closed a real estate deal in 2005 with [indicted businessman Antoin] Rezko's wife while the families lived next to each other," and "paid Rezko's wife a price substantially lower than market value for an adjoining parcel." In fact, Obama purchased the land from Rezko in January 2006 (not 2005, as UPI reported), he paid substantially more than what an Obama spokesman reportedly said was the land's appraised value, and the Rezkos sold the remainder of the vacant lot before developing it and thus never "lived next to" Obama.

A January 24 United Press International article reported that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "closed a real estate deal in 2005 with [indicted businessman Antoin] Rezko's wife while the families lived next to each other," and "paid Rezko's wife a price substantially lower than market value for an adjoining parcel." The article provided no support for the assertion. In fact, Obama purchased the land from Rezko in January 2006 (not 2005, as UPI reported), and he paid $104,500 -- substantially more than what an Obama spokesman reportedly said was the land's appraised value. Obama purchased one-sixth of the lot adjoining his own property that the Rezkos had purchased in 2005 for $625,000. The Washington Post reported on December 17, 2006, that an Obama spokesman said the strip of land Obama purchased from Rezko had been appraised at $40,500, "but Obama considered it fair to pay one-sixth of the original price for one-sixth of the lot."

Moreover, the Obamas and the Rezkos did not "live[] next to each other." As the Chicago Tribune reported on November 1, 2006, the Rezko's property was a "vacant lot" next to the Obamas' house "which once was the estate's lush side yard." The Chicago Sun-Times reported on February 24, 2007, that the Rezkos had sold the remainder of the lot in late 2006 to one of their attorneys, who "plan[ned] to build a six-unit condominium building south of Obama's house."

From the January 24 UPI article:

Obama, now the junior senator from Illinois, and Rezko met in 1990. Rezko offered Obama a job, which he turned down.

The Sun-Times said in 1993 Obama joined a Chicago law firm, Davis Miner Barhnill, which counted a low-income housing developer affiliated with Rezko among its clients.

Rezko in 1995 contributed $2,000 to Obama's bid for the Illinois state Senate and hosted a "lavish fundraiser" for Obama's 2003 campaign for the U.S. Senate, the Sun-Times said.

Obama closed a real estate deal in 2005 with Rezko's wife while the families lived next to each other. Obama paid Rezko's wife a price substantially lower than market value for an adjoining parcel.

From a December 17, 2006, Washington Post article:

When Obama and his wife, Michelle, a hospital executive, decided to move with their two young girls from their Hyde Park condominium, they chose a spacious three-story Georgian revival home on a tree-lined street in the Kenwood neighborhood, not far from the University of Chicago. The owner had listed the house -- nearly 100 years old, with four fireplaces and a wine cellar -- and an adjacent lot as separate parcels.

The Obamas purchased the house, which had been on the market for several months, for $300,000 below the list price. On the day they closed, Rezko's wife, Rita, closed on the 9,000-square-foot lot next door for the asking price of $625,000.

Obama said Rezko, who knows the neighborhood, was one of several people he called for advice on the real estate market. Rezko told him he knew the developer who renovated the house. In a later conversation, Rezko said he intended to buy the empty lot and build on it.

Later, the Obamas bought a 10-foot-by-150-foot piece of the lot for $104,500. An appraisal put the value of the strip at $40,500, a spokesman said, but Obama considered it fair to pay one-sixth of the original price for one-sixth of the lot.

"It wasn't something we needed to have," Obama said. "It was something I thought would be nice, if it worked economically for him."

Network/Outlet
UPI
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Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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