Under pressure from local media, including talk radio, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) caved yesterday, finally revealing the sale price for a piece of riverfront property she bought from Bob Penney -- a developer connected to the Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) investigation.
When we first reported
the deal on Monday, both Penney and Murkowski refused to provide the sale price. Conservative estimates from local real estate agents put the fair market value of the property at around $300,000.
In a front-page story today in the Anchorage Daily News
, Murkowski and Penney revealed the sale price to be $179,400. That just happens to be the same value as the 2006 local government assessed value for property tax purposes. But Penney claims that he thought the assessed value at the time of last year's sale was still $120,300, the 2005 assessed value. In any event, shortly after the December 2006 sale to Murkowski, the 1.27-acre plot was reassessed at $214,900, which real estate agents and locals told me is still much less than what Penney could have fetched on the open market. Nationwide, the assessed value for property tax purposes is usually less than the fair market value of real estate, oftentimes substantially less.
"Word of honor, I did not know what the assessed value was," he said. "I thought it was still $120,000. . . . Who the hell would ever think it would jump like that?" Penney said.
As the Anchorage Daily News
editorial put it this morning:
Anyone who sells Kenai River real estate at the assessed value is either a fool or doing somebody a favor. Anybody who buys it at assessed value knows -- or should know -- she is getting a sweet deal.