www.washingtonpost.com -- The levy won't be subject to haggling between future buyers and sellers, either. That's because it's a covenanted mandate -- a novel type of lien on the underlying real estate -- called a private transfer fee. It's not a government transfer tax. Nor is it a homeowner association or environmental protection covenant. It's purely a private requirement that runs with the land. If a seller refuses to pay it to a third-party trustee at closing, the sale won't proceed. Sounds like a great deal -- provided that you're on the collecting end of a near-perpetual revenue stream. Apparently, the idea has been attractive enough that substantial numbers of developers and builders are signing up with a New York-based company that has devised what it calls a "patent pending" system to tap into real estate transactions into the next century. Manhattan-based Freehold Capital Partners declines to identify any clients or participants in its private-transfer-fee program, but it claims on its Web site that as of late 2009, "the owners of an estimated $488 billion in real estate projects nationwide, including some of the country's largest, most well-respected companies, have partnered with Freehold." The company says it is negotiating with institutional investors to "securitize" pools of transfer fees -- essentially creating bonds based on future cash flows that can be sold to deep-pocket money managers.
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