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- New York officials did not determine the value of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The property appraiser in Palm Beach County, where the estate is located, assessed the property and determined its value.
- In evaluating the property, Palm Beach County officials account for Mar-a-Lago’s being a deed-restricted private club. Unlike a private home, the property’s value is determined by the amount of income it generates as a club.
After a New York judge ruled last month in a fraud lawsuit that former President Donald Trump inflated the value of properties including his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump and his allies argued that New York officials have undervalued the property.
Mike Davis, who has advised Republican senators on confirmation of federal judges, said in a Oct. 1 Facebook video that "the New York Attorney General and this New York judge says" Mar-a-Lago is "only worth $18 million," which Davis called "ludicrous." Davis is president of the Article III Project, a group that defends constitutionalist judges.
The Facebook post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Davis’ comments are misleading because New York officials did not determine the property’s value. The property appraiser in Palm Beach County, where Mar-a-Lago is located, assessed the property and determined its value.
In 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump and the Trump Organization created 200 false and misleading valuations of assets in New York, Florida and Scotland to defraud financial institutions. James is seeking $250 million in damages; to bar Trump from serving as an officer in any New York corporation; and to bar him from acquiring any New York real estate over the next five years. Trump has denied wrongdoing, and the civil fraud trial continues as of this publication.
New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron’s Sept. 26 ruling stated that from 2011 to 2021, the Palm Beach County property appraiser determined Mar-a-Lago’s value was "between $18 million and $27.6 million." But Trump’s statements of financial condition presented to investors stated that it was worth between $426 million and $612 million, "an overvaluation of at least 2,300%" Engoron wrote.
Trump posted on Truth Social that Mar-a-Lago is worth "50 to 100 times" more than the lowest assessed value, $18 million. Media outlets quoted Palm Beach real estate experts who said $18 million was a very low valuation.
When contacted for comment, a Davis spokesperson said, "To say that Mar-a-Lago is worth $18 million is bonkers. There is currently a 2.3 acre lot for sale in Palm Beach for $200 million. It's an empty lot. Mar-a-Lago, on the other hand, is 20 acres and is a historic property with more than 37,000 sq(uare) feet."
But we aren’t rating on the Truth-O-Meter the appropriate value for Mar-a-Lago. We are fact-checking a claim about who determined the property's value.
Engoron asked the media to stop attributing the $18 million figure to him.
"Please, press, stop saying that I valued it at $18 million," he said in court Oct. 2. "That was a tax assessment. Or, something in that range."
Mar-a-Lago is not valued by the county as if it were a luxury home because it is a private club. Trump in 1995 signed a deed of conservation and preservation easement, which means he ceded the right to use the property for anything other than a social club.
That means the property appraiser uses an income-based valuation for the property, Becky Robinson, a spokesperson for the property appraiser, told PolitiFact.
"Mar-a-Lago is one of nine deed-restricted clubs in Palm Beach County, and all are valued in the same manner," Robinson said. "The income approach to valuation capitalizes the net operating income that private clubs could generate. This means that the value of the property is determined based on the amount of income that it generates as a club."
That’s different from determining the value of a house, when appraisers consider recent sales of nearby homes, and determine a comparable value.
The county appraiser is a government office that assesses properties for taxation purposes only.
Property owners can file a petition to challenge the valuation; usually, they seek a lower value to decrease their taxes. In September 2020, a Mar-a-Lago representative filed such a petition, according to the records sent to us by an official for the Palm Beach County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. But in November 2020, the representative withdrew the petition, marking a box labeled "petitioner agrees with the determination of the property appraiser or tax collector."
Mar-a-Lago is currently valued at about $33.4 million by the Palm Beach County property appraiser, based on a 2023 appraisal. A new valuation will be available Jan. 1.
Davis also said the New York attorney general said that Mar-a-Lago was valued at $18 million. In James’ statement to the media announcing the lawsuit, she said that Mar-a-Lago was valued based on the "false premise" that it could be developed and sold for residential use, despite the deed restrictions.
"In reality, the club generated annual revenues of less than $25 million and should have been valued at closer to $75 million," her statement said. The Article III Project noted that James said in a post on X that the value was "$25 million."
A Facebook video said New York Attorney General James and Judge Engoron valued Mar-a-Lago at $18 million.
James did not value Mar-a-Lago at $18 million.
A ruling by Engoron cited the $18 million figure, but he attributed it to the 2011 value determined by the Palm Beach County property appraiser.
We rate this statement False.
Facebook post, Oct. 1, 2023
Telephone interview, Becky Robinson, spokesperson for Palm Beach property appraiser, Sept. 27 and Oct. 6, 2023
Email interview, Glorys Feliciano, board meetings specialist, Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller, Palm Beach County, Sept. 28 and Oct. 6, 2023
New York Attorney General, Attorney General James Sues Donald Trump for Years of Financial Fraud, Sept. 21, 2022
Palm Beach County Property Appraiser, Mar-a-Lago, 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, Accessed Sept. 27, 2023
AP, Judge rules Trump defrauded banks, insurers as he built his real estate empire, Sept. 26, 2023
Palm Beach Daily News, Property-tax bill down slightly for Mar-a-Lago; Trump’s Palm Beach County taxes hold steady at $1.48M, analysis shows, Nov. 13, 2020
Palm Beach Daily News, How does Palm Beach County value Mar-a-Lago, other local Trump properties for taxes? Aug. 18, 2023
CNN, New York judge finds Donald Trump liable for fraud, Sept. 27, 2023
Supreme Court of the state of New York, Ruling by Judge Arthur Engoron (uploaded by CNN), Sept. 26, 2023
PolitiFact, In Context: What NY Attorney General Letitia James said about Trump that Trump’s video left out, Aug. 12, 2022
Eric Trump, X , Sept. 26, 2023
Eric Trump, X, Sept. 26, 2023
Donald Trump, Truth Social post, Oct. 4, 2023
Sun Sentinel, New York judge’s ruling about Mar-a-Lago value rattles Palm Beach luxury real estate market, Sept. 30, 2023
The Article III Project Team, Statement to PolitiFact, Oct. 6, 2023
New York Attorney General Letitia James, X, Oct. 5, 2023
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