Phoenix woman forced from condo after complex sold to investor

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Ever since she was a little girl, Courtney Hoogervorst, who grew up in Surprise and graduated Arizona State University, had a goal to pay cash for her first house. 

“I started working when I was 15 and started saving every single week and little by little I was able to save,” said Hoogervorst.

In October 2016, Hoogervorst realized her dream. She found a great condo at Solstice Condominiums at 54th Street and Thomas Avenue in Phoenix, and purchased a 2-bedroom condo for $93,000 outright.

Hoogervorst and her boyfriend estimate they spent $15,000 on remodeling in the first few months they lived there, getting new cabinets, new floors, upgraded arcadia door and more. 

“So, this is my first home. It’s all paid off, no mortgage. So, I put a lot of love into it and a lot of time and love into it,” said Hoogervorst.

Imagine her surprise when she got a letter in the mail less than nine months after moving in, telling her the condo complex was being sold, and she had 60 days to get out and she would be compensated $95,000 and had no recourse.

The condominium termination letter came from investor Travis Karl, who informed Hoogervorst that the Solstice Condominium Association approved the sale of the entire complex.

Arizona law allows for the termination of a condo and the sale of the entire project for fair market value if at least 80 percent of the unit owners agree.

Hoogervorst thought that was impossible until she found out what had been going on.

In May, Karl and his investment group purchased 135 units in the complex for a little more than $12 million. He then began approaching individual owners and offering to purchase their units until he owned the required 80 percent to authorize a sale.

Hoogervorst wrote letters to just about everyone she could think of asking for advice. Her issue caught the attention of Dean Ouellette, a Chandler Realtor, who also runs phoenixrealestateguy.com.

“Unfortunately, it is not illegal what he is doing. He is completely doing what is correct under the law and it’s a law that I think needs to be addressed in the future. Until this protection is put in for homeowners, we’ll keep seeing this,” said Ouellette.

Hoogervorst said an appraiser hired by Karl assessed the property at $95,000. She and Ouellette think that's too low.

“The appraisal was done months ago without any of the owners knowing it was done and the appraiser never came into my unit. That’s just a number he gave based on the square footage of my unit. So everything I’ve done in here, it doesn’t matter,” said Hoogervorst.

Tax records indicate Karl paid up to $160,000 for a unit the same size as Hoogervorst’s two-bedroom.

Ouellette said if this were a normal sale transaction, Hoogervorst could appeal the appraisal. But, because it is a bulk sale appraisal, she is out of luck.

“The only way an appraisal can be challenged is if 50 percent of the homeowners are going to challenge it. Well, he (Karl) owns more than 50% of the properties and of course, he was never going to challenge it,” said Ouellette.

As much as Hoogervorst wants to stay in the condo of her dreams, she knows that will not be possible. But she at least wants fair compensation.

“I understand that he may want to come in and he has an agenda to turn this all into rentals and that’s fine. You can come do that but give me enough notice to leave and give me a fair payment for my place and pay for my moving expenses that you’re now going to make me incur. Thousands of dollars of moving expenses and the stress of not knowing where I’m going to go in 20 days,” said Hoogervorst.

In her mind, she would put this whole mess behind her if Karl would offer her $120,000.

Calls and messages to Karl and his attorney went unanswered.

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