ABS-CBN News

Expert: Charina Corona's US property not luxurious

Posted at | Updated as of 04/12/12 8:23 PM

ROSEVILLE, California (UPDATE) - Critics of Chief Justice Renato Corona painted a picture of a luxurious house that cost millions, and suggested that it must have bought using stolen funds.

But when we paid a visit to the house owned by the daughter of the impeached Supreme Court chief in Roseville, California, this is what we saw: a starter home in a modest neighborhood a few miles away from a Walmart store.

California real estate expert Norberto Reyes explains that Roseville is one of the many communities hard hit by the foreclosure crisis in the US.

Property values here have plunged 50% from their peak prices in 2006 because of the struggling economy and high unemployment rate.

"This might be a home that's suitable for a young married couple just starting out. You know, low- to middle-income. It is by no means a luxurious property," said Reyes.

A copy of the title obtained by ABS-CBN shows the house is owned by a Maria Charina Corona.

It was purchased in 2008 at the height of the crisis.

Charina also signed an interspousal grant deed that indicates that her husband relinquished his community rights to the property.

In Manila, amid speculation regarding this set-up, talk was rife that the Chief Justice's daughter may have acted as a dummy for her father in owning this house.

But signing quit claims like these, according to Reyes, is not an unusual practice in California.

"It's not uncommon for married couples to enter into an agreement whether formal or otherwise, that certain property would be considered separate property of one spouse instead of community property even though that property may have been acquired during the time of the marriage. That's not uncommon at all," Reyes said.
 
The property was purchased from developer John Laing homes for $269,500.

Charina put a 10% downpayment and assumed the balance with seller-financing that would have them pay for it for the next 30 years.

Based on this public record alone, Reyes says there is nothing remarkable about this purchase.

The Corona camp has said that Charina is a physical therapist in the US.

Statistics from the US labor department shows that this occupation remains in demand and pays an annual mean wage of at least $79,000 a year or close to P3.5 million.
   
We tried to get the side of the chief justice's daughter, but we were refused the interview.