Hostile Takeover: State law allows investors to take homes

PHOENIX - When you buy a home, the expectation is that it’s yours, unless you decide to sell or it goes into foreclosure.

But if you own a condo in Arizona, there is a law that allows investors to push you out of your own home.

Condo owner Courtney Hoogervorst is finding that out first hand. 

“It was always my dream to buy my first home in cash,” she says.

And the 26-year-old did in October 2016. She paid $93,000 cash for her condo at Solstice Arcadia in Phoenix.

“I was planning on keeping this house forever,” she says.

Her neighbor Charlie Segovia had no plans of selling either. In 2009 he was hit by a truck and left in a coma for several days. He used the $20,000 from that settlement to buy his condo in 2010.

“My dad would have been proud that ‘Charles you actually bought a place,'" he says.

It’s a place that the 69-year-old could afford with his $800 social security check.

“I thought I was set,” he says.

And he was. Until he and his neighbors got a letter saying their complex was being sold, and they had 60 days to get out.

Hoogervorst was shocked. “This can't be right I own this condo, I paid cash.”

It happens more often than you think. We’ve spoken to homeowners around the Valley who were hit with same news in 2015 and 2016.

In March 2016 condo owners in the Jamestown complex let us know they were being forced to sell their homes.

We found it is the same group that is forcing Hoorgervorst and Segovia out of their homes now.

What they didn’t know is that the local investment group was quietly snatching up enough units to take over their condo association.

It's called condominium termination and it is perfectly legal. State law allows any condo association to disband and sell if 80 percent of the owners agree.

County records show that an investor named Travis Karl and his investment group recently got control of enough units so that they could become the 80 percent holder.

The way the law is written, everyone else has to sell, whether they want to or not.

Owners are supposed to be paid “fair market value” which is to be determined by an independent appraiser. And the association—or in this case the investors—hires the appraiser of their choice.

Segovia says his unit is valued at $60,000.

Courtney says with improvements, she’s spent at least $108,000. She was offered $95,000.

Both say the numbers aren’t nearly enough to buy them a comparable home. It also doesn’t account for the additional money they will have to spend on moving, first, last month’s rent and deposits or the cost of having to carry a mortgage if they are able to even find a place they can afford.

They say there is nothing fair about it.

“They’re treating us just like unit numbers, not like real people that have lives that matter,” Hoogervorst says.

Investors are able to do this because state law says so.  That means state lawmakers are the only ones that can make the change, so find your representative and let them know what you think hereYou can contact Governor Ducey's Office here.

 

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