Lately agents have been complaining about Condo or Homeowners Associations being difficult to work with to obtain numbers to payoff associations to put a short sale closing together.  To give readers a little perspective, here is the process of a short sale.

Association Management Companies Causing More Foreclosures

Partial List of Association Company Fees
SW Florida Association Fee Chart

Once a buyer is found and contract is negotiated it is sent to the seller’s bank for consideration to take less than the full proceeds to payoff the loan.  The bank asks us to put together a sample HUD closing statement.  To do this, we along with the title company estimate a closing date, pro-rate for taxes and any other costs that would go on the statement.  A lender will not allow the seller to receive any money from the closing, so this statement must match almost exactly.  We plug in the payoff on the loans last and the bank decides whether they’ll take the payoff.

Are Association Management Companies Causing More Foreclosures

We must put in the HOA fees, and there in lies the problem, HOA and Condo Associations won’t tell you how much is owed without paying them a fee.  Keep in mind it’s in everyone’s best interest to get the deal closed so another happy homeowner can begin paying fees.  If the property goes to foreclosure, the Association has some rights to recover some past fees, but only to a certain point.  Many times the association loses money in unpaid fees. There are Florida Statutes that cover this and we won’t cover that in this article.

HOA’s and condo associations typically contract with CAM”S (Common Asset Property Manager’s) to manage their association.  There is still a board of directors and officers, but the day to day management falls to a management company unless an association is self managed.  Typically the Board interviews and hires a company based upon tasks, and fees among other things.  The management company will quote a fee, let’s say $50,000 in this hypothetical example to manage the association, hire the landscapers, collect HOA fees, and all the things an association must do. The list goes on and on.

What the Board doesn’t always consider are the hidden fees a management company charges, like estoppel letter fees.  An Estoppel letter is the formal instrument that tells the title company how much is owed by the owner so the property can be closed.  Typically the short seller is having money problems and this is why they can’t pay their mortgage or HOA fees.  They are trying to sell, but the HOA fees and legal fees keep mounting.

So when an owner cannot pay the estoppel fee so the file can be closed, it sometimes forces the property to foreclosure.  Here is a list of fees some of these companies charge to tell you how much you owe.  As you can see, they charge a certain fee nd make you wait, but if you upgrade and pay more they’ll tell you sooner.

Most even charge more after 30 days to update the fee.  It typically takes the bank longer than 30 days to approve the short sale, so more fees are almost guaranteed.

Now, the HOA or condo association doesn’t keep that money.  You guessed it, that money stays with the management company, so it’s a profit center for them.  They get paid either way a management fee to run the association.  The HOA or condo may lose money by prolonging things, but the management company doesn’t.

Keep in mind many people belong to multiple associations, so these fees may be doubled or tripled.  Also, if a homeowner is in default, they may owe an estoppel fee to the law firm in addition to the management companies.

If more Boards asked better questions when interviewing management companies they’d save their property values from declining further and the association’s financial situation would be much better off.  Keep in mind, everyone else pays when someone in trouble isn’t.  HOA fees for everyone would be less if they didn’t have to make up for those that aren’t paying.  And less foreclosures leads to higher prices in a community, so everyone but the management company has a vested interest in providing this information quickly and painlessly.

Extra fees are the dirty little secret in association management people aren’t aware of until it hits them.  Nobody is saying a company who does good work like CAM’s do shouldn’t be paid nicely for their work.  I’d rather see them be upfront about it and quote it in their bid instead of complicating things on the back end when time is of the essence.

These companies will tell you it costs them to look up and report these fees.  Does it really cost them a lot more to look them up quicker?  How long does it take an employee to check the computer?

We’ve included a chart that shows recent transactions encountered and the fees that were charged. This chart is by no means complete.  Next time you go to your HOA or condo meeting, you might ask your board to look into this.  If you’re wondering if it’s really an issue, call your agent or title company and ask them their opinion.


In the old days agents would ask sellers to come into their office in hopes that the seller would be so impressed they’d select the Realtor they were going to list with on the spot.  This was a good strategy, and if a Realtor stands out from the crowd by a wide margin, why wouldn’t a seller be impressed?  Some Realtors even refused to visit the seller’s property until the seller selected them as their agent.  While this may seem a little over the top, some Realtors actually used this strategy with some success.

Listing Presentations Going Mobile
90% of Homebuyers Now Shop on the Internet to Buy a Home

Listing Presentations Going Mobile

Today there is no reason an agent cannot do both!  With the advent of Tablets like the iPad or an Android Tablet an agent can now bring the office to the seller.  It’s quite easy to show your office, how you work, and how you market in a mobile world.  If the agent works and negotiates contracts in a mobile world, why can’t they list in a mobile world?

The truth is they can, and they should.  The two most important ingredients in a successful home sale is the relationship between the seller and the listing agent, and the property itself.  The agent’s office really doesn’t matter.

33% Repeat Buyers Find Their Agent on Internet
How do Buyers Find Their Agent

Oh, we’re proud of our physical office and all the things we can show a buyer or seller from the office.  However, many times offers have come in while I’m out of town or away on appointment and I’ve been able to look at the offer, make changes, negotiate, and close the sale, all in the amount of time it would have taken to drive back across town from the appointment and begin that process.  The office never entered into the equation.

Sure, we have a team of assistants back at the office assisting us, but that had nothing to do with negotiating the offer.  Just the same, we no longer feel the need to show a seller the office and meet the team before listing their home.  We can bring the team to the seller.  We even have powerful video conferencing we can utilize with our sellers and our team.

A seller can surely list a home without going to an agent’s office, but it’s pretty tough for an agent to list a home without seeing the sellers home. Pricing the home depends on condition, functionality, upgrades, etc.  There is no substitute for viewing the home.

You have to ask yourself, am I listing my home or listing the agent’s office?  We all know the answer is the home, so why not focus there?

You’re also hiring an agent, so it’s important to ask questions, such as how will you market my home?  Why should I hire you?  What do you bring to the table that another Realtor doesn’t?  Show me examples.

Some things are just hard to show on paper.  So much marketing today is online or the print is not the standard 8 1/2 x 11.  I remember the days when we used to handout 80 page packets explaining the sales process and our team.  Those days are now gone.

An agent today can show a seller how buyers are using Apps to search for their home.  We can show how the home looks online, how many people have seen it, and where the agent ranks in search engines.  Sellers can see virtual tours, photos, satellite views, etc all in the comfort of their home.

Not all agents are the same.  Results can vary greatly from agent to agent, and from company to company.  Ask your Realtor to show you everything.  Buyers today are demanding tech savvy agents when searching for a home.  If your Realtor can’t show you their business in a mobile world, how in the world are they going to market your home to today’s buyer?

Later on it may be necessary to meet at the office, but selecting which Realtor to list with is no longer one of those necessities.  If you’re considering selling your home, let us show you how buyers really view your home, and why selecting an agent with today’s tools matters.

Good luck, and Happy Home Selling.


The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group is holding two open houses this weekend.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses July 14-15

2322 SE 8th Street, Cape Coral $165,000
Open Saturday 1PM-4PM

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses July 14-15
2322 SE 8th Street, Cape Coral $165,000

Move-in ready, 3 bedroom, 2 bath canal front home in quiet, well maintained neighborhood. Home features spacious bedrooms, vaulted ceilings, large screened lanai which overlooks dock and canal. All assessments are in and paid.


Rear Water View
2322 SE 8th Street, Cape Coral Water View

14091 Oak Hammock Lane $300,000


Sunday Open House
14091 Oak Hammock Lane Fort Myers, FL 33905 Front View
Rear View 14091 Oak Hammock Lane Fort Myers, FL 33905
14091 Oak Hammock Lane Fort Myers, FL 33905 Rear View



Paradise for those who love the outdoors and peace and quiet. Spacious family home on 1+acres with 5 bedrooms, 2 baths is surrounded by towering Live Oaks and many tropical plants. Home site borders creek that forms one boundary. Exquisite Brazilian Mesquite floors in the living areas, wood burning fireplace in the family room. Sitting room/den off master bedroom could be used as as office, tv room, nursery, your choice. Large master bath has over sized walk-in shower as well as a jacuzzi tub and dual sinks. Large flagstone patio has a built in fire pit and just a short walk away is a personal putting green. Call today to see this beautiful property. Some furniture available separately.


Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907


Our predictions are beginning to sound like a broken record, but they’re not really predictions at all as anybody who can view a chart can easily see what’s going on, and until something changes the trend may continue.

Fort Myers Cape Coral Florida Sale Prices Rise
SW Florida Real Estate Prices on the Rise

It’s been said if you put 10 economists in a room you’ll get 10 different opinions. I think it’s easy to see we have a supply and demand situation whereby the market is eating up more homes than are coming to the market. For instance, in April 868 homes came on the market while 1,097 sold. Additionally, some homes expire or get foreclosed upon and don’t re-enter the market in a timely fashion, so this impacts the numbers even more.

As you can see by the attached charts, inventory has been going down since January of this year, and is down significantly since January 2011. In fact single family home listing inventory is a mere 55% of what it was back in January of 2011.

Median single family home prices were $88,500 in January of 2011 and today they stand at $132,000, up 49.15% in just less than a year and a half. Prices are up 6.97% since January 2012.

Listing Inventory Falling in Fort Myers, Cape Coral Florida Market

Buyers are increasingly panicking when buying property as they’re often in multiple offer situations. It forces them to carefully consider how important the home is to them. Quite often it depends on how long they’ve been in the home buying process as reality tends to set in after several failed attempts to purchase their home.

Buyers typically look at several homes then rank them in terms of desirability. Quite often a buyer will make an offer on their #1 choice. If they miss out, they may move on to their #2 choice. Some buyers wait for another like kind home to enter the market, but their hope turns to disappointment when that homes doesn’t appear, or if it does it’s priced significantly higher than the one they lost out on.

This whole scenario sets up an unrealistic expectation that future homes will meet their #1 choice criteria in terms of desirability and price but the reality is the next home may be less desirable and more costly in a rising market with limited inventory.

After the buyer loses out on 4-5 homes that reality tends to hit and they reset their expectations. It’s an uncomfortable process and one that each buyer addresses in their own way and in their own time frame. They can fight the market and live in denial and prolong the process and possibly never buy a home, or they can accept the market, educate themselves, and win their 1st choice, or hopefully their 2nd choice.

Sellers go through the same scenario in a buyers market. A seller may require a certain price or terms only to be left at the altar by buyers who liked their home but found a better offer from another home. It really doesn’t matter if the buyer or seller likes the market we’re in. The market just is what it is, and if they want to accomplish their goal it pays to learn the market sooner rather than later. In each case lack of knowledge can cost the buyer or seller significantly in price, desirability, and peace of mind. It pays to work with a professional that can educate you on your options.

Good luck, and Happy House Hunting! We at the Ellis Team at RE/MAX are here to help if you need us.