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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street May Cause Another Real Estate Crash

Today's lower court ruling that the Occupy Wall Street protestors can return to Zuccotti Park, but cannot rebuild their shantytown with tents and other facilities, may be the first major skirmish in a battle over the very extent of private citizens' property rights, and threatens real estate values on a macro scale.

Occupy Wall Street argues that the "tents are there [in Zuccotti Park] 24-7 as part of speech," according to their lawyer.  This may be the first domino to fall in a long cascade that could lead to a redefinition of where public free speech ends and private property rights -- including the right to simply be left alone on one's own property -- begin and are safe from violation by others.  It is possible that the Occupy Wall Street position could lead to a redefinition of what public space is, what is subject to free speech rights, and what private property owners must be prepared for.

The implication of this battle is that property owners could face having to deal with a new paradigm of what it means to own and enjoy one's own property.  In fact, owning property could be reinterpreted to require owners to accept public intrusions.

Naturally, the imposition of such requirements and degradations will make the ownership and leasing of property -- both residential and commercial -- less desirable.  Rents will fall and carry down with them real estate prices as the notion of property rights is defined down.  (As if there weren't already enough factors threatening to pull real estate values down between up to 50 to 80 percent from current levels.)

The economic implications of this movement now are becoming apparent.  Is Occupy Wall Street seeking nothing less than to destroy the very concept of private property?

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer, political and legal strategist and management consultant.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment at 917-696-2442 and by e-mail at  Mr. Dixon also comments on twitter under the name @dixonstrategy.


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