It is getting almost impossible to get through an entire day without being accosted by bad news. Sometimes there really is nothing we can do about it. Natural disasters are out of our hands. Try stopping a tsunami, a hurricane or an earthquake. You can’t. Chances of people losing their homes in any of those scenarios are pretty good. But other “disasters” are preventable. I am thinking of the seemingly daily reports of condo and homeowner association fraud, embezzlement, theft, mismanagement and abuse that can also result in the loss of peoples’ homes. These are man made disasters, enabled by the government. Instead of protecting their constituents against these wrongdoings, or redesigning the HOA and condo concept structurally to prevent the abuses, they mandate them and turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the problems. They facetiously mock you for having “agreed” to the “rules”.
Jose Pazos joins us On The Commons. Jose, an award winning community manager in Florida, is not cut from the same cloth as many of his colleagues throughout the country. Jose and his business partners, own a management company with a difference. Transparency and accessibility seem to be high on their list of ” must haves” for their homeowner clients. We’ll find out how they do that. (it really is quite simple). We talk about laws that are unique to Florida and how those laws enable the taking of private units from their rightful owners. We will also find out about the many ways owners and associations are robbed and swindled out of their assets and rights. We’ll hear all about his idea for a condo fraud task force, how it would work and how it would be funded. We also find out why he considers himself the “condo police”. In his spare time, Jose also maintains a web page called Condo Receiver. If more people in the condo and HOA business had the integrity and honesty of Jose, we might actually get through a day every now and again with having to read about bad news.
3 thoughts on “Jose Pasoz”
Love Jose Pazos online transparency for owners. Why can’t that level of transparency be provided to buyers? In a way, an buying into a corporate Association is akin to investing in a business and not entirely equivalent to buying into a publicly adminstered housing development. A consumer of any common interest housing governed by a mandatory association takes on many potential liabilities that simply do not exist for the purchaser of a “traditional” publicly-governed home. For example — the Association can sue or be sued for any number of reasons. Plus the Association must purchase several different types of insurance to mitigate risks not typically faced by homeowners without the HOA, COA, POA, cooperative, etc. If someone trips and falls on common property and is injured, there will be a legal claim. Common areas that could be destroyed by fire or natural disaster must be insured. The Association must also insure against lawsuits involving the Board, or infidelity involving the Board or manager, etc. The buyer must also be fully aware of the fiscal health of an association to avoid being stuck with a huge speical assessment a short time after closing. None of these liabilities and financial risks exist to the same exent at the municipal level — but they are typical of risks involved in buying into a business investment. Therefore, all of this information needs to be part of a prospectus for buyers — shy should a buyer have to pay big bucks for this information OR rely on the seller to provide the information? The seller may not wish to disclose certain facts that could thwart a sale or reduce the sale price.
All reputable coporations seeking participation by investors provide a prospectus/disclosure free of charge. Why should manadatory Associations be any different?
As for the estoppel certificate, providing this information to a buyer is a cost of doing business. The buyer should not have to pay a fortune just to find out how much money is owed on a unit prior to purchase – especially if he or she might have to walk away from the sale. If the management company is doing its job, it should not be that difficult to generate an accurate estoppel letter. A nominal buyer fee (say $50) would be one thing, but not hundreds or thousands of dollars, generating a separate estoppel letter for each association membership for a particular unit. (Common in planned communities with multiple layers of associations under one master association.) Why can’t the buyer know UP FRONT before even looking at a unit that money is owed (even if it’s just a statement of what’s owed as of the date of the showing.)?
This is a cost of doing Association business, just as it’s a cost of business to mow the lawn in the common area.
And to Shu’s point about Europeans who own flats in shared-ownership buildings: the reason it works better is because the owner-occupants are in charge of decision making. Shu tried to make the point – and I want to reiterate it – that all owners participate in decision making – vs. the system here in the US, where a few people on the board make all the decisions with little to no input from the owners.
Don’t forget, Associations in the U.S., U.K., Canada, etc. are created for the benefit of the original developer. That’s why a lopsided Association-board governed system exists. That system is handed down to owners even after the developer is no longer involved. 5,7,or 9 people making decisions about how to spend the money of dozens of hundreds or even thousands of other people who own or reside in the “mini-government” association.
Without a hierarchy created by having a Board of Directors/Trustees, every PERSON gets a vote — votes are not allocated to shares of property owned. That’s why you don’t see the same level of real estate speculation or investor-owners taking over and forcing owner-occupants to pay for their deisred improvements or -worse yet – being forced to sell their homes to investors for a mere pittance. It’s why you don’t see absentee owners merely interested in collecting rent from tenants, but not investing in the building and infrastructure.
This is a structural problem that affects the fundamental rights of property owners and residents!
I love your show!!! I also fight back. Please contact me. I am in Manassas Va. In Virginia, three words. Virginia Condominium Act!
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