During a pivotal moment in former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, a Florida real estate agent testified about the estimated value of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. He stated, “It’s something breathtaking. It’s something amazing to see”.
He valued it at “over $1.2 billion in 2021” and pointed out that Trump’s company had “actually undervalued Mar-a-Lago by about half.”
Market Expertise and Valuation Challenges
Lawrence Moens, the agent and defense witness, brought his extensive experience in Palm Beach property sales to the forefront. “I work very hard to sell rich people property in Palm Beach,” Moens stated, asserting his deep understanding of the market dynamics.
He faced the challenge of evaluating Mar-a-Lago, a property spanning 17 acres with dual waterfronts, not just as Trump’s residence but also as a significant political and social hub.
Legal Implications and Disputes
The case, spearheaded by State Attorney General Letitia James, accuses Trump and his company of inflating the value of assets, including Mar-a-Lago, to deceive lenders. The defense argued for the property’s potential as a residential sale despite Trump’s earlier legal commitments to using it solely as a club.
However, Judge Arthur Engoron found Trump guilty of exaggerating Mar-a-Lago’s worth by “as much as 2,300 percent” compared to “the Palm Beach County tax appraiser’s valuations.”
Industry Views and Cross-Examination
The industry’s perspective on Mar-a-Lago’s value varies significantly. Some Palm Beach agents believe it could fetch between $300 million to $1 billion.
During the cross-examination, Moens confirmed his long-standing membership at Mar-a-Lago, joining around 1995 or 1996. When asked about his valuation methods, Moens acknowledged, “That’s fair,” implying a certain degree of subjectivity in his approach.
Defense Witnesses and Trump’s Stance
Moens, in a pre-trial deposition, mentioned potential buyers like “Elon Musk to Bill Gates and everyone in between.” He wished openly, “I wish he’d let me sell it, but it’s not for sale.”
Another defense witness, John Shubin, also testified about the legal possibility of using Mar-a-Lago as a residence.
President Trump, addressing his trial on Truth Social, wrote, “I will be testifying Monday in this shameful, NO JURY ALLOWED ‘TRIAL.’” He also advised his son Eric against testifying further, stating, “Eric has already testified, PERFECTLY.”
This trial continues to unravel the complex valuation of Mar-a-Lago, with each testimony shedding light on the diverse perspectives surrounding this high-stakes legal battle.