Further to the article highlighting The Property Man Bob Massi, Irene Parker informed Inside Timeshare that all States except one define VOI (Vacation Ownership Interests, points) as real estate. However Diamond‘s own contracts state (although buried within) insist that the membership is not real estate. The Diamond annual report also states they are not subject to real estate laws.
All this is very confusing to say the least, even Irene is confused and she lives in the US! So she kindly put me in touch with one of her contacts who was once a sales agent ILX and the after the acquisition and Diamond agent. Mark is a licenced broker, for 4 years he has been challenging the ADRE (Arizona Department of Real Estate) regarding “fraud” in the sales process of Diamond products. He has kindly sent the following information, which I have produced below, the reason is he explains it better than I could, after all I did say it was confusing. The following is his story:
In Arizona any sale of a property interest within the state requires licensing of ALL sales agents. All transactions are to be reviewed by the designated broker or their licensed assistant. The designated broker is liable for all transactions, and conduct of agents. The conduct of all agents is regulated by statute, Diamond has a designated broker in Sedona for all their properties.
ARTICLE 11. PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
Duties to Client
A licensee owes a fiduciary duty to the client and shall protect and promote the client’s interests. The licensee shall also deal fairly with all other parties to a transaction.
A licensee participating in a real estate transaction shall disclose in writing to all other parties any information the licensee possesses that materially or adversely affects the consideration to be paid by any party to the transaction
While Diamond trains (requires) its sales agents to commit fraud, there is a clause in the brokers manual (which is not disclosed by broker) which states that the agent shall indemnify Diamond in the event of ANY action is taken against the company for misrepresentation, to the extent that the agent will even cover Diamond’s legal fees. I brought up the fact that the broker did not disclose this at the time he required me to sign a receipt for his manual, agreeing I understood and would abide by the terms however ADRE was not interested.
Most RE development within the state requires that all buyers receive what is called a public report It is viewed by ADRE as a disclosure document that carries sufficient importance to the buyer, that pre- approval of its content by ADRE is required before sales can commence. Diamond and other companies selling VOI’s in the state are required to give buyers a public report.
It is important to note that it is a somewhat generic document and does not include material information regarding how a timeshare interest is structured, no explanation of the difference between a deeded interest and a VOI, or mention of relevant statue regarding sales and administration of these systems. This has left the door open for pirates like Diamond to circumvent disclosure requirements mandated by licensing, while openly committing fraud in the sales process. By alerting buyers to the existence of their RE license Diamond agents falsely present to buyers that they are being protected by RE statute.
In general real estate ALL sales must include a sellers disclosure document that requires all known material facts affecting the value of real estate being sold be disclosed by the seller. It is known as a SPUDS and intentional withholding of material information is grounds for civil litigation and other administrative penalties.. As I have been arguing repeatedly with the AZ AG and ADRE, since no SPUDS is given in connection with a timeshare, the sales presentation constitutes an oral SPUDS with appurtenant disclosure obligations.
During my 6 month tenure with Diamond I filed multiple administrative complaints against Diamond’s designated broker for lack of mandatory supervision. ADRE investigated those complaints and would not have done so if Diamond’s product was not considered real estate and subject to applicable statute. I was required to maintain an active license to sell Diamond’s poisoned pill. I have found in public records that Diamond’s broker entered into a consent order, and paid a fine for allowing an agent to continue selling VOI product after his license expired. ADRE could not have taken these administrative enforcement actions without Diamond’s VOI being legally defined as a real estate product in AZ.
This was the basis of my argument to AZ AG and ADRE that institutionalized fraud was being committed on the public by lack of enforcement pertaining to regulation and the insistence of continuing to classify VOI’s as a real estate holding when in fact Diamond’s own contracts states to the contrary and insists in clear terms (buried in an obscure place) that the membership is not a real estate interest. Clear as mud, that’s how they like here in sunny AZ.
As you can see, things are not as clear cut as we thought, Europe is not as big a minefield as the US. But this could be a very big problem for those in Europe who did purchase in the US, especially as they would not be aware of the regulations there.
As more information comes in, Inside Timeshare will publish it here, thanks to Mark and Irene for their input into these articles, it has helped to clarify some important points.
If you have any questions or information regarding this or any other article, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.