An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published May 6, 2010


It was interesting to read the Florida Realtors News Special Report, dated April 30, 2010. Headlined “2010 Florida Legislature Adjourns.” The Florida Association of Realtors praised the “reforms” achieved by passing S 1196. Funny enough, they are using the same bullet-points as the proponents of the bill -- most likely without even reading the wording of the bill?


This is the wording used in the FAR Special News Report:

Help for condo owners - and ways to spur sales. At the beginning of the session, there were at least 50 bills addressing everything from fire sprinkler retrofits to enticing investors in an effort to move excess condo inventory. At the end, there was a single 103-page bill encompassing many of these reforms: SB 1196 by Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey). It includes the Florida Realtor-supported "bulk buyer" language that seeks to reduce inventory levels by encouraging investors to purchase blocks of condo units. This is accomplished in part by protecting bulk buyers from some of the liabilities faced by condo developers. Other provisions in SB 1196 accomplish the following:

• lower the cost of condo ownership by repealing the requirement that owners purchase individual unit owner insurance coverage;

• remove the requirement for mandatory retrofits of sprinkler systems in condos over 75 feet high;

• require lenders to pay more in past-due assessments on foreclosed properties;

• allow associations to deny owners or occupants the use of common areas and recreational amenities when the owner is more than 90 days delinquent in paying financial obligations due to the association; and

• allow associations to divert tenant rents to pay for delinquent assessments owed by unit owners.


That really makes me wonder what they are thinking. Consider that realtors should have a big interest in making homes and condos located in mandatory communities more marketable -- meaning attractive to potential buyers.


Nearly nothing in the bill will achieve that goal. But I guess they haven’t figured that out yet, since FAR’s official board members have never claimed to understand what is really going on in the real estate market. Most likely this report was written by the same folks who bolstered the sales numbers by listing all changes of ownership as “sales.” Don’t forget: In case of a foreclosure the name on the title changes, but it surely doesn’t mean it’s a sale. You might book it under the category of “forced sale”?


I still have to laugh when I remember the presentation by FAR President Russell Grooms at the HOA Task Force meeting in Tampa on December 8, 2003. We heard a lot of presentations from so-called professionals during these meetings, but Grooms showed that the presenter was unprepared and really lacked the knowledge to discuss HOA issues.


Yes, a number of investors are grabbing some “bulks” of condos, betting that the favorable market will return one day. But the major source for new homebuyers and condo buyers has always been – and may be again one day in the future – the flow of retirees from up North moving to Florida, once called The Sunshine State.


But that flow has abruptly stopped. Not just because of the economy, but even more because of the ugly headlines pertaining to Florida ’s community associations. Realtors should be interested in legislative bills that would make living in Florida attractive again. Prices are attractive.  Homes are less expensive now than they had been during the past 15 years. Nevertheless, Florida has about 350,000 empty homes and condos, homes and condos that realtors should sell to interested buyers. But in order to find interested buyers the realtors have to show that living in Florida means living in the sunshine again. And S1196 will not help to achieve this goal.


If the politicos running FAR really think that the enacting of S1196 might help to improve the dead real estate market, I can only say: “Dream On!”


A huge percentage of FAR members need the single-family homebuyers to come back to the tables of the title companies in order to survive. Has FAR ever figured out that quite a few of their members have lost their incomes?  They can’t pay association dues any longer, because the policy of greed finally killed the real estate market.