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Trump accuses Warren of hypocrisy for buying foreclosed homes

A home Elizabeth Warren purchased for $4,000 for a family member in Oklahoma City.
A home Elizabeth Warren purchased for $4,000 for a family member in Oklahoma City.Oklahoma County Assessor

WASHINGTON — Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump opened a new line of attack against Elizabeth Warren Wednesday, accusing the Democratic Massachusetts senator of being a “total hypocrite” because she “bought foreclosed housing and made a quick killing.”

Trump, pointing to stories that have been circulating in the right-wing media for years, focused on a practice from Warren’s past in which she bought or helped finance two dozen properties in Oklahoma for various family members over about two decades.

About half the homes were properties that Warren’s older brother and nephew, both construction workers, either renovated themselves and sold at a profit or managed as rental units, according to a Warren aide. The others were bought for various members of her family, including a $50,000 house she purchased for her parents who lived in it until they died.

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Warren, at different points, also financed homes for other family members, including her older brothers David and John, along with two of John’s children.

Records show that at least two of the properties were purchased out of foreclosure. Warren’s family held on to one of them for 13 years before selling it for $26,000 more than the purchase price. The other was lived in by the family for more than six years and extensively renovated, according to an aide, before it was sold for $85,000 more than the purchase price.

Trump’s charge came a day after Warren labeled the GOP candidate “a small, insecure money-grubber’’ in a speech. On Wednesday, she rebuffed Trump’s accusation that she was a hypocrite for helping to buy properties that previous owners had lost through foreclosure.

“I helped family buy their homes and out-of-work construction worker relatives make a living. I’m proud of that,” Warren posted on her Twitter account Wednesday, responding to Trump.

Trump’s accusation that she made a “quick killing” — known informally as house flipping — implies that Warren’s family made a fast sale to realize a speedy profit.

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In the case of homes that Warren purchased or financed for her family, two were sold within a year. That included one that was bought and sold within weeks — but the profit on it was negligible, records show.

The average amount of time that Warren or her family held on to a property was about 7½ years, property records show.

“Senator Warren and her husband Bruce are fortunate to be in a position where they have been able to help relatives buy their homes and in some cases make a living by fixing up houses and managing rental properties,” Lacey Rose, Warren’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Warren has emerged as one of the Democratic Party’s top surrogates — and the only one who has gotten under Trump’s skin to the degree that she’s earned a nickname from him. She’s also a potential vice presidential pick for Hillary Clinton, who is looking for ways to excite members of her party’s liberal base who have flocked to her rival, Senator Bernie Sanders.

Warren hasn’t endorsed either Clinton or Sanders, but she has turned to social media to call out Trump, knocking his stances on the minimum wage, accusing him of “scamming students” at Trump University, and criticizing him for his “dangerous ideas.”

Trump, in turn, has dubbed her “goofy Elizabeth Warren,” poked at her claim of Native American heritage, and called her an ineffective member of the Senate.

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Wednesday night, Trump continued to single out Warren.

‘‘She gets nothing done, nothing passed. She’s got a big mouth, and that’s about it,’’ he said of Warren, speaking in California. ‘‘But they use her because Hillary’s trying to be very presidential. She’s stopping with the shouting, OK?’’

Slamming Warren on the property deals is a new subject for Trump. It’s a chapter that Republican opposition groups have long pushed and hasn’t been covered by the mainstream media, suggesting that Trump — and his organization — are deepening their interest in Warren’s background.

Trump called out Warren shortly after she criticized him for profiting from down real estate markets. Her remarks came in a widely covered speech in Washington Tuesday evening.

“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap,” said Warren, echoing a theme that Clinton’s campaign was pushing all day. “What kind of a man does that?”

“I’ll tell you exactly what kind of a man does that,” Warren continued. “It is a man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure money-grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt so long as he makes a profit off it.”

The 25 homes that Warren helped buy were cumulatively purchased for $1.7 million, though the Warren family never owned all of those properties at once, according to Oklahoma county records. The purchase prices ranged from $4,000 to $150,000, the records show. The average price for a house was about $54,000.

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Twenty-one of the homes have since been sold, at an on-paper return of more than $700,000 from 1994 to 2014. That amount doesn’t represent the true profit to Warren’s family, because it does not include the raw materials or labor that went into renovations.

Most of the houses were purchased in the 1990s — and the last one was bought in September 2007, a squat, one-story brick home that was purchased for $150,000, records show.

Warren didn’t profit from the arrangement with her family members or intend to, according to a top aide.

But some family members, at various times, turned profits. In some cases that cash was used to repay Warren, in others it was reinvested in new properties.

Warren’s name doesn’t appear on the deed to most of the houses; she set herself up essentially as a bank, and is named as providing the mortgage on 16 of the homes.

In these cases her family members’ names are on the deeds and Warren was in a position to foreclose on them if payments weren’t made.

Warren never did this, given the entire arrangement was set up to either subsidize their home ownership or support their efforts to make a living. Warren is worth as much as $15 million, according to her personal financial disclosure forms.

The list of properties that the Globe reviewed were all in or near Oklahoma City.

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The Warren enterprise only appeared to lose money on one house — a structure purchased in September 1996 for $7,000. It was sold in May 2011 for $5,000.


Annie Linskey can be reached at annie.linskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @annielinskey.