8 Feb 2015

Floridians forced to sell their homes at huge losses. A state law can force some Floridians out of their condo units for only a fraction of what they originally paid.

 When Amanda Gonzalez bought her two-bedroom condominium near Orlando in 2006, she thought she was getting a foothold on the America dream.
Gonzalez never missed a payment for her mortgage, condo fees or taxes, even after the real estate crash in 2008 and 2009. When she was laid up after an accident, and money was tight, she still kept her books in order. So it came as a shock when the company that sold her the unit told her the complex was being converted into rental apartments ("terminated"), and that she had to accept what the company offered – far less than what she had paid. 
Under a Florida law, companies that own more than 80 percent of condo units in one building can terminate a condo complex under certain conditions and turn it into apartments for rent. The companies have to pay the owners they're evicting the "current market value" for their units, which may not even cover their mortgage. Some owners, who have diligently paid their bills and fees, are left without a home and drowning in debt.
“I thought we lived in a country where your property couldn’t be seized for private gain,” Gonzalez said. “And this blows me away that this is possible in the United States. It blows me away.”
According to Seminole County records, Gonzalez purchased her unit at Serenity at Tuskawilla from Prestwick Partners, a boutique property company run by two Miami lawyers. After Florida’s real estate crash, she had no intention of selling her unit; she figured its value would eventually bounce back. But she never got that chance. In 2013, Prestwick Partners filed papers to terminate the condominiums at Serenity at Tuskawilla. 
Appraisers paid by the new owners assessed Gonzalez's unit to have a fair market value that was just a fraction of what she paid. She had no choice but to sell at that price; she says Prestwick Partners told her they technically already owned her unit.
"I paid them money up front and now they’re buying it back for pennies on the dollar," she said. "I’d love that deal. Sign me up."
Last week, Gonzalez said her lender allowed her to walk away from her mortgage – a “short sale” – but her credit is ruined, an embarrassment for someone who runs an accounting business.
“It’s humiliating from a professional standpoint. It’s frustrating from a personal standpoint," she said. "It feels like such a violation to go through this." 
Shirley Lofgren, 85, paid $217,500 for her Serenity condo – almost all of it in cash – when she moved to Florida in 2007 with her husband, Robert, who's since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and now lives nearby. She says Prestwick Partners is offering her an assessed value of $46,500. If she took the offer, it would wipe out the equity she spent a lifetime to build, and she doesn’t have enough cash to buy something else.
“I thought when you owned something you owned it,” Lofgren said.


  1. These lawyers should be shot on sight.

  2. Hung, Mike, not shot. Left to rot so vultures can pick at their rotting bodies. I wonder: did Jeb Bush sign that law into existence, or who?

  3. Under zionism anything is possible, there's no rules, except for the peons.

  4. How horrible for these condo owners. Goes to show you that Florida is STILL corrupt and they are just now making millions on other people's plight and smugly saying that they are doing this legally!! LEGALLY!!! What for horse poop is that for an answer?. I hope they rot in hell. Why do you think I'm an EX Legal Secretary? I saw way too much in my time working for crooked attys in Florida. Some of my stories could land a LOT of greedy attys in jail for many years............... More people should carefully look over ANY ownership paperwork and condos are the worst for don't do this and don't do that crap. I'm sure that the buyback clause was there all along but who in their right mind who paid over $200K didn't have a lawyer look this over? That woman should sue her atty if she had one for not pointing out this backdoor robbery.

  5. When you have greedy business people without scruple's, morals or integrity, you give the whole business community a bad name.

  6. I am not sure that there would have been a clause in the contract about this, because the article states that the buy back is legal because: "Under a Florida law, companies that own
    more than 80 percent of condo units in one building can terminate a
    condo complex under certain conditions..." So it is not a peculiarity of those particular sales, all that the contract would have to say is that it is subject to state law.

  7. Things just keep getting better in the sunshine state. i was thinking of moving to florida but a ticket on interstate 10 convinced me I did not want to spend more time in the state than I had to. I know it was just a routine speeding on an interstate which has posted too low for the conditions. I just did not like the way the state police made it a game pulling over three cars at a time and endangering me in the process. It was a minor thing but it sure saved me a lot because I probably would have purchased in the sunshine state. One really has to question their sanity when considering buying there. If it was just this horror law it would be one thing but the state is infected with huge badly run Home owners associations which front for real estate thieves.

  8. Al - the sky is falling - Gore8 February 2015 at 18:47

    This story is a good example of why the founding fathers included the 2nd Amendment in the Constitution.
    It's also a good example of blatant corruption on the part of Prestwick and apparently the state as well.
    Maybe one of the owners will make the rotten SOBs wish they had never been born.

  9. Oh crap I left my space heater on,,,,sorry