This is yet another update on the Florida Foreclosure Fraud Law, Chapter 501.1377, Florida Statutes f/k/a House Bill 643. You can read the entire law at this website.
Previous posts I have made:
Well now I have some more official opinions on this new law that will be going into effect on October 1, 2008.
Last week Attorney General Bill McCollum issued an official bulletin (which I can email anyone a copy of) stating that the new law does exempt attorneys licensed by the Florida Bar. Obviously he is stretching his authority here because the law does not mention an exemption for attorneys anywhere in it. However since he isn't going to enforce it against attorneys, that should make them all feel much relief.
I also had the opportunity to recently listen to State Representative Chris Dorworth speak about various government goings on. I was very impressed by him to say the least. His profession is a commercial real estate investor. His wife works for the Attorney General's office, so he was able to tell us some about this new law. He tells me that regardless of the screwiness of how the law actually reads, that the intent of the law was to not interfere with licensed professionals or legitimate real estate transactions. Hopefully that is true and the Attorney General comes out with some official statement to the affirmative.
On Friday I was in a class taught by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association's attorney, Jim Mitchell. I was able to speak frankly with him about his take on this whole law. He re-emphasized to me that ORRA and FAR are taking the position that the intent of the law was to exempt real estate brokers and associates regardless of the questionable language in the law. I asked him specifically what he thought about a Realtor sending someone a letter or postcard stating that they could help save a house from foreclosure or something similar. He shrugged his shoulders and said that this could be a gray area in the law. The law is confusing and nobody knows for sure what a court might interpret.
These opinions do give me some comfort, but not 100%. If you are buying as a real estate investor, the best advice I can give is to follow the law and the required disclosures exactly as the law says. If you are a real estate broker or associate working foreclosures and short sales, my suggestion is to get the seller to sign some sort of release stating that you are not acting as an "equity purchaser" or a "foreclosure-rescue consultant" as defined by this law.
Towards the end of July, I may have the opportunity to actually meet with AG McCollum. If that does happen, I will formally request that he issue an opinion on how the new law effects Realtors as well as non-investor purchase transactions. I will try and keep everyone updated as I learn more.
Be careful, it is a jungle out there!
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Rob Arnold - Your full service and investor friendly Realtor in Orlando and Central Florida.
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