Organized Theft IS Organized Crime

The Colorado Legislature is embroiled in a controversy over ‘transfer fees’, a mysterious item that appears on closing papers when a homeowner is trying to sell his property.

What’s a transfer fee? It’s a mandatory fee the seller has to pay. It’s not related to any specific kind of work. It was recently outlawed on all real estate sales EXCEPT those in Homeowners associations. It can range from the hundreds…even into the thousands of dollars, and there are no state controls. A transfer fee doesn’t benefit the HOA, it just drops into the pockets of HOA management companies. Pure profit.

When CAI lawyers were asked, “Why do you charge these fees? The answer was stunning, “Because we can!” That kind of unmitigated arrogance is beyond appalling. Why do you steal cars? Because we can. Why do you steal little old ladies’ retirement money? Because we can. And legislators turn their heads the other way! Unbelievable.
With that in mind, here’s a recent blog from
First let’s thank Leslie Stevens, the victim of a transfer fee of over $1,000, for contributing to the news story and Channel 4 News (KCNC, Denver).
Transfer fees when real estate documents were exchanged are ILLEGAL in Colorado EXCEPT when a Homeowners Association is involved. If they’re so illegal for all other homes, what’s the difference with HOA homes? In a word, NOTHING!
Note, once again the CAI never attempts to explain what these costly, laborious, and time consuming tasks are that require hundreds to over one thousand dollars in transfer fees only “that is the way it is” (because of them).  They got away with this by slipping an exception into SB 11-234 and now again in 2014 with HB 14-1254 by actually crafting this Bill to ensure, if passed, nothing will change in picking the pockets of home sellers. 
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Because this is a breaking story in Colorado, there’s more to come on the subject tonight. We’ll post on

2 thoughts on “Organized Theft IS Organized Crime

  1. Robert

    I haven’t read the bill, but according to the CBS-Denver story you link to:

    Colorado lawmakers are working on a bill that would require property management companies to disclose the fees they charge at the closing of a home sale.

    The folks at Colorado H.O.A. Forum say that

    HB 14-1254 has been stripped of all meaningful verbiage and the intentions originally pursued by the House sponsor and supporters including home owners, property managers, and realtors.

    This Bill was intended to rein in the abusive use of the HOA Transfer Fee including: financial limits on the fee (that range from$50 – $1000+ with no relationship to work performed); defining what the fee is specifically to be used for and what not; and addressing the illegal use of this fee by property managers to under bid on HOA contracts (anti-competitive and harms small businesses).

    This Bill was allowed to be rewritten by lobbyist including large property management companies (PMCs) and the CAI whose members pocket $15 million a year without having to justify the fees. The rewrite ensures NO changes to the abusive use of this fee.

    So the sponsors of the bill never questioned the legitimacy of H.O.A. transfer fees, they just wanted to limit how much the home onwers could be ****ed. And they can’t even follow through with that.

    UPDATE: Not only that, but according to the text of the bill itself, the fees would be disclosed “to the executive board of each HOA”, not to the home owner. So what is the point of this bill anyway?

  2. Robert

    In a comment on Evan McKenzie’s blog, Tom Skiba, president of the Community Associations Institute — the H.O.A. lobby group — made the following claim:

    “associations frequently use such fees at transfer to fund reserves or other capital contributions, which strengthens the communities financial position and where the benefits accrue to all the homeowners within the community.”

    I’m not sure how a fee paid to a 3rd party vendor, in this case the management company, helps fund an H.O.A. corporation’s reserves, but “honest” is not a word I would ever use to describe Tom Skiba.

    Another C.A.I. lobbyist know for being loose with the truth is on the record as saying that:

    It is a misconception that the work involved is rote and takes only minutes, counters Molly Foley-Healy, chairwoman of the Colorado Legislative Action Committee with the Community Associations Institute, the largest trade group for community managers.

    Community managers ensure not only that a seller is caught up on monthly dues but that they are in compliance with community covenants, capital contributions and other items specific to that property, she said.

    “It is not fair or reasonable to require all members of an HOA to pay for the services related to the conveyance of any particular unit,” she said.

    Denver Post. Dec. 23, 2013.

    Because a few mouse-clicks to retrieve data from a computer program costs thousands of dollars.

    My ongoing dispute with Madison Hill H.O.A. Inc. started over a $100 transfer fee, which they called a “status letter” fee.

    If I had the statutory right to charge the H.O.A. corporation $100 for every letter I have sent them, they would owe me over $5,000. I can assure you that I put a lot more work into my letters than they did theirs.

    But that’s just another imbalance of power that nobody, not even H.O.A. reform activists, are addressing.


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