Condo law changes went into effect July 1

July 17, 2017 – There were several changes made to Chapter 718, the Florida Statute governing condominiums, and all went into effect on July 1, 2017.

While not exhaustive, below is a list of July 1 changes that you may come across in real estate deals:

  1. 718.111(12)(c)(1) – A unit renter has a right to inspect and copy the association’s bylaws and rules.
  2. 718.111(12)(c)(3)(g)(1) – by July 1, 2018, an association with 150 or more units (which does not manage timeshare units) must post digital copies of the required documents on its website.
  3. 718.116(8) – The association must issue an estoppel certificate within 10 business days of receipt of a written or electronic request for said certificate.
  4. 718.116(8)(a) – Any condominium estoppel certificate must contain specific assessment information, such as the regular periodic assessment and frequency; an itemized list of all assessments, special assessments and other moneys scheduled to become due; if there is a capital contribution fee, resale fee or other fee due and what the amount is; if there is a right of first refusal provided to the association or the members; and contact information for all insurance maintained by the association, amongst other things.
  5. 718.116(8)(b) – The estoppel certificate (sent via hand delivery or electronically) has a 30-day effective period (35-days if sent by regular mail).
  6. 718.116(8)(d) – If a requested estoppel certificate is not delivered within 10 business days, a fee may not be charged for the preparation and delivery of that estoppel letter.
  7. 718.116(8)(f) – The association may charge a reasonable fee for preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate that may not exceed $250.00; if the certificate is requested on an expedited basis and delivered within 3 business days after the request, however, the association may charge an additional $150.00; an additional fee of up to $150.00 may also be charged for an estoppel certificate on a unit if a delinquent amount is owed.

The Florida Legislature also added other new condominium association rules this year. If a unit owner is denied docs and fraud can be proved, for example, it could be a felony; and board director terms are now limited to eight years with a few exceptions.

For complete info on July 1 condo law changes, refer to the bill, HB 1237, which Gov. Scott signed on June 26.

New Florida laws go into effect July 1

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – June 28, 2017 – Seven real estate laws drafted by the 2017 Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott go into effect Saturday, including a Florida Realtors priority: estoppel fee caps.

Laws effective July 1

  • Cap on estoppel certificate fees – Sellers of properties who live in an HOA, condo association or co-op will have a limit on the amount they’ll pay for an estoppel certificate, a document that informs a buyer if the seller is current with their dues and assessments. SB 398 (Sen. Passidomo, R-Naples) caps estoppel certificate fees at $250 for unit owners who are current in their assessments. Associations may charge an additional $100 for expedited estoppel certificates (delivered within three business days) and another $150 to owners who are delinquent in their assessments. The bill sets the price of estoppel certificates for multiple units owned by the same person and establishes a uniform, statewide format that ensures buyers and closing agents receive the appropriate information needed to close the real estate transaction. This bill also requires certificates to be valid for 30 days if delivered electronically or 35 days if delivered by mail.
  • Florida’s natural resources – More than $500 million is earmarked for Everglades restoration, beach renourishment and springs restoration. During the session, SB 10 (Sen. Bradley, R-Orange Park) served as the primary piece of policy legislation for Everglades restoration and establishes how the funding will be used for these projects. A key provision of SB 10 is the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that is designed to curb nutrient and salinity levels that are harmful to Florida’s valuable natural resources.
  • Condominium termination law – Legislation passed in 2015 to protect condo owners from being forced to sell – possibly at a loss – has several loopholes that real estate investors and bulk buyers exploited. SB 1520(Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater) fine-tunes the rules and modifies the process by reducing the percentage of owners required to reject the termination – from 10 percent to 5 percent.
  • Condominium oversight – A South Florida news report of fraud in condo board elections, misappropriation of funds and rigged bids resulted in a Miami-Dade grand jury recommending changes to Florida’s Condominium Act. HB 1237 (Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami) provides several new condo oversight rules: (1) a condo association with more than 150 units must publish its financial reports and other documents (bylaws, articles of incorporation, condo rules) on a password-protected web page; (2) if an owner is denied documents and fraud is proven, persons responsible for fraudulent activity could face felony charges; (3) the term of a condo board director is limited to eight years, with some exceptions.
  • Private flood insurance – As Realtors petition Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Florida lawmakers continue to work to attract private flood insurance capital to Florida. HB 813 (Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Fort Pierce) accomplishes two primary goals: (1) Rating flexibility for flood insurers is extended from 2019 until 2025 before they must follow guidelines similar to other lines of coverage – a way to encourage private insurers to enter the Florida market; (2) insurance agents can place flood policies with surplus lines insurers for two more years – until 2019 – before they must make a “diligent effort” to place the coverage with carriers regulated by the state. Diligent effort requires an agent to seek coverage and be rejected by at least three regulated carriers writing the same type of coverage.
  • Drone regulation – HB 1027 (Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville) preempts the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) by local governments and grants oversight to the state of Florida. This will prevent drone operators from having to potentially comply with ordinances adopted by 400+ local governments.
  • Pollution notification – SB 1018 (Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid) sets a threshold for when an operator is required to notify the Division of Emergency Management and the Department of Environmental Protection about a pollution event. It also provides a timeframe for the notification and defines what a reportable event means. This legislation is the result of pollution from a sinkhole at the Mosaic fertilizer facility in Mulberry, Fla., last summer. The Scott administration created an emergency rule that shifted the burden of pollution notification from the state to the owner of the property where the spill occurred. Florida Realtors was part of a coalition that successfully challenged the legal authority for this rule, creating an opportunity for the passage of this friendly legislation.

© 2017 Florida Realtors

Southwest Florida Childrens Charities hosts a reception for Wine Fest volunteers

Pam Wittenauer has volunteered for the SWFL Children’s Charities Wine and Food Fest for the past four (4) years.   This year they recognized the volunteers and had a reception.

SWFL Children’s Charities reception for wine and food fest volunteers

Pam Wittenauer awarded Five Star Real Estate Agent 2016

Over the past Five (5) Years Pam Wittenauer has achieved a GulfShore Life Five Star Professional Award.  See the other winners:

Free International calls? Theres an app for that

I went to Israel a few years ago on a pilgrimage and realized I needed cell service to still stay in touch with my business.  I know, I was on a pilgrimage and still could let go of my busy life at home.  I was able to pay $30 a month for international texting but that was really not what I wanted.  Now I have used Facebook Messenger when I need to get in touch with family who are travelling abroad.  I have Apple products such as my Ipads, but my phone is Samsung which I love but cannot FaceTime.   What do you use with your Samsung phone?   This article just put out by the National Board of Realtors is very helpful.  Has anyone tried this?

Free international calls? There’s an app for that

McLEAN, Va. – Feb. 28, 2017 – A common question we hear all the time – how to make international calls for free?

There are so many viable options now, and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to the wireless carriers. It’s another case of free apps to the rescue!

But which app to use? A good basic rule of thumb – use the app where your friends or family are. If they like to connect there, it will be the easiest place to find them.

Each app works differently, but, in a nutshell, look for the phone or video camera icon for guidance to where to make your free calls.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Skype has been the pioneer of free calls since it started in 2003. As it always has, calling “Skype to Skype” is free but making a call from your smartphone to someone’s landline or cellphone will cost you. Rates vary depending upon which country you call. Skype starts at 10 cents a minute to call mobile phones in the United Kingdom, for instance, or 2.3 cents per minute to call landlines. It also offers a monthly $6.99 subscription. Calls are easy to make, but the invite process is clunky. You can’t make calls until you both accept the request.
  • WhatsApp is probably the most popular app now among people in Europe for free calls, with more than 1 billion people using the service. Like Skype, the app works when your friends are there. Recently, WhatsApp expanded beyond basic free calls and messages to copy communications app Snapchat with a similar “Story” feature that lets members show off collections of photos and videos.
  • Apple’s Facetime couldn’t be any simpler to operate and should be your first choice if you have an iPhone, iPad or Apple computer. All you need is a phone number or Apple ID to begin making free calls. But if your mom is on Android and you’re on Apple, you’re out of luck. You’ll want to consider one of the other options. Unlike the other apps, FaceTime isn’t a download. It comes installed on all new iPhones, iPads and Macs. Look for the green camera icon on your mobile screen or in the menu of your desktop.
  • The Line app dominates in Asia, but it’s starting to make inroads in the U.S. with a delicious offer. Free international calls to land lines – as long as you watch a short 15-second ad first. App-to-app calls don’t require the ads. Give it a try – it’s the most colorful and fun of the free phone apps. It’s best known for introducing “stickers,” instant messages to pretty up your texts, from the likes of Pokémon and Mickey Mouse, to Dragon Ball and Star Wars. Most are available for sale – starting at 99 cents.
  • Facebook Messenger. With nearly 2 billion users, the odds are your friends or loved ones are already there, which is why I’d recommend starting here first. Plus, the audio quality is generally excellent.

To make the call, remember to use the Messenger app for your smartphone or regular desktop Facebook. Look for the video camera and phone icons at the top of the screen, next to the name of your friend.

Copyright © 2017,, USA TODAY, Jefferson Graham.


Mayor Henderson Speaks To Commercial Investment Professionals

Today I attended the CIP Breakfast meeting at Renes on Winkler Road in Fort Myers.   CIP is for Commercial Agents and Associates.  Randy Henderson said everything takes time and patience which he learned from his father. He  said he likes to go out to the restaurants in downtown Fort Myers.  He recently frequented Firestone with his friends last weekend.  I actually saw him on one of my walks downtown, in Scoops, an ice cream shop in downtown Fort Myers.  He spoke about developing Cleveland Avenue.  The new hotel that will be a division of the Marriott Chain.  The Community Foundation will be the new tenant of the old Train Depot and they will be adding additional commercial space to the property.  He asked the commercial realtor to please help David Fry rent the units at The Place on First.   For more information, keep checking into my blog.  Pam Wittenauer/RE/MAX Realty Group, Commercial and Residential Realtor

Land: What can an Industrial Developer pay for a land site?

What can an Industrial Developer pay for a land site?

Affordable Housing and Church Facility Land

Click link below:




Could 30-year mortgage survive without gov’t?

WASHINGTON – Jan. 24, 2017 – Republicans are raising the prospect of making the biggest change to home loans since the New Deal.

Two of President Trump’s Cabinet picks, along with Republican lawmakers, have been speaking publicly about curbing government backing for the kind of loan that the majority of Americans rely on to buy a house: the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Supporters of the change say removing U.S. backing could protect taxpayers from being on the hook for billions of dollars in the event of a market collapse – as they were after the financial crisis of 2008.

But some in the housing industry say that without the government’s support, 30-year mortgages may become scarce, leaving homeownership out of reach for many Americans.

“Eliminating the government guarantee would likely lead to higher rates, making credit more expensive, or take the 30-year fixed-rate option off the table altogether,” said William Brown, president of the National Association of Realtors.

Making changes to the housing market carries political risk. If homebuyers can’t obtain affordable mortgages, they may turn against Republicans responsible for the change. About 71 percent of home purchases and refinances in October used a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, according to the Urban Institute, a Washington-based research group.

Ben Carson, Trump’s nominee to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, told senators Thursday that the 30-year mortgage could survive without a government guarantee. He said the private market could take on much of the responsibility.

“You can’t do it overnight. It has to be a gradual change,” Carson said at his confirmation hearing. “We can’t do it in a haphazard way, and we can’t do it in an ideological way.”

Trump hasn’t detailed any formal policy on mortgages, and Carson’s comments came only after being asked about the topic. Transition spokeswoman DJ Nordquist said in an email after the hearing that Carson “believes strongly” in the need for a 30-year mortgage option.

Until recently, such debates have been mostly academic.

While the Republican-controlled House Financial Services Committee has passed legislation that would constrict the government’s role in the market, such plans never had much of a chance getting past the Senate or President Obama. Now, with Republicans controlling the legislative and executive branches, curtailing the government-mortgage guarantee is becoming more than an ideological pipe dream.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, created by the government and spun off as shareholder-owned corporations, for years have been the foundation of the housing market and have backed the 30-year mortgage. They purchase mortgages and package them into bonds, absorbing much of the risk, making it easier for homebuyers to obtain loans and freeing up money for banks to make more loans. When the housing market melted down in 2008, the government spent $187.5 billion bailing out Fannie and Freddie. Since then, they’ve become profitable again and sent the government more than $250 billion in dividends.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary, said Fannie and Freddie should “absolutely” be privatized, in an interview with Fox Business Network on Nov. 30.

Some mortgage investors and others in the housing industry are expecting an overhaul.

“I don’t know anyone who’s not at least paying lip service to the idea that having a market dominated by the government is not a good idea,” said Lewis Ranieri, who runs an investment-management firm and helped invent the mortgage-backed security.


Home starts Surge

U.S. builders ramped up home construction in December, led by a surge of apartment building, while single-family houses lagged.

Housing starts jumped 11.3 percent last month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.2 million, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The figures are volatile month to month: Starts plummeted in November after a big gain in October. Apartment construction soared 53.9 percent last month, while single-family housing starts fell 4 percent.

The figures cap a solid 2016 for home construction: Developers started work on the most new houses and apartments since 2007, the year the Great Recession began. Single-family home building increased 3.9 percent and apartment building was 10.3 percent higher.

A fair housing violation? How can that be?

Recently, a broker in Florida received a demand letter in the mail from a Fair Housing Center in Texas. The letter included a copy of one of the broker’s rental listings that included “no kids” in the public remarks. When the broker talked to the listing agent, she explained that the owner is a close friend, the home’s pool does not have a child safety fence, and it’s unsafe for children to live there.

The broker, the agent and the homeowner in this scenario are in violation of U.S. fair housing laws.

Under the Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal to discriminate in the sale, lease or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. This “no kids” example, although not intentional, is a per se effort to discriminate based on familial status — and Realtors must use extreme caution when working with sellers because they’re as liable as the homeowner if they discriminate against a protected class on the seller’s behalf.