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Thursday 14 November 2019

Robinsons lose a fortune on US holiday home investment

John Breslin

A luxury home in the US, bought by Peter and Iris Robinson after the property crash began, has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in value.

In what has turned out to be a disastrous investment, the Robinsons paid nearly $600,000 (€414,000) for their second home in Orlando, Florida. It is now worth less than $400,000 (€275,000).

The couple bought the house in summer 2008, after the credit crunch sent real estate prices tumbling across the US.

Florida has been among the hardest-hit states in the country, while Orlando has seen house prices plummet faster than many other parts of the Sunshine State.

The purchase of the house may go some way to explain why Iris Robinson was complaining to her adviser that she had incurred a massive debt in 2008.

The couple bought the 418 sq m house near Orlando International Airport for $590,000. Records filed in Orange County, Florida, reveal the house is now valued, for tax purposes, at $445,000.

But, according to real estate agents and recent sales, the house would fetch no more than $380,000 if placed on the market today.

Indeed, a similar house directly across the road recently sold for just over $350,000.

The house in Florida is listed in the register of members' interests for MPs as a holiday villa. The property is a large, four-bedroom, four-bathroom house, built just before the couple bought it. Property taxes alone on the house amount to $10,000 (€7,000) a year.

It was from here, shortly after the end of her affair with Kirk McCambley (21), that Mrs Robinson sent a series of text messages to her one-time adviser Selwyn Black.

In one, she suggested keeping the money from one of the developers, because he was dead.

"I had intended to release £1,000 (€1,1125) per month to Church as well as using it to clear the massive debt incurred by me over past year," she texted Mr Black.

Irish Independent

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