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Vacation Home Magazine

Winter 2008

GAMES ROOMS 101 with

Paul Dudley

W-19 Visa Waiver Program Ends January 2009!

we get an insight of the CFVRMA with the outgoing 2008 President

We ask our organizations expert to find out what is needed for approval for a new investment home mortgage?

Another Chance To Win

$200 to spend at

Orlando Premium Outlets速

www.vacationhomepublications.com


Who’s looking after your holiday home? You have a lot invested in your holiday home. You hired a property management company to make sure the appliances work, and that there are plenty of paying guests, enjoying themselves in the Florida sunshine. But who is making sure your home stays clean, safe and allergen-free?

Call +1 407 523 9700 Carpets | Ducts | Surfaces | Odors

www.odoronix.com

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Odoronix specializes in indoor air quality. We feature HOST® dry carpet cleaning, RotoBrush® A/C duct and dryer vent cleaning, Unelko® Sani-Shield anti-microbial surface protectant, and environmentally-responsible ozone and fogging air treatments. How can Odoronix help you?


Florida Owners

Organization LLC

USA REGISTERED OFFICE 8815 Conroy Windermere Road Suite 239 Orlando FL 32835

Editorial & Production Office

welcome

2008 will be memorable for many different reasons for each of us, some good others bad.

Florida Owners Organization 13 Quantock Road. Bridgwater. Somerset. TA6 7EG UK

TELEPHONE 01278 458634 WEB SITE www.vacationhomepublications.com PUBLISHER Ian Davies ASSOCIATE EDITOR Mike Davies COPY EDITOR Martin DeHaundy VICE-PRESIDENT Sham Ebrahim PUBLISHED BY Florida Owners Organization LLC PRINTED BY Broglia Press in the UK

Advertising Sales TELEPHONE 01278 458634 www.vacationhomepublications.com E-MAIL info@vacationhomepublications.com

The new year is always the time when we look forward to the coming year, when most of us make resolutions (whether we keep them or not is another matter) and we make plans for the next twelve months. However, with the turbulent end of 2008 many of Central Florida’s vacation home owners are looking at 2009 with trepidation. Initial reports from respected vacation industry professionals see 2009 being a challenging year for owners and managers alike but the underlying feeling is very upbeat, although overall Central Florida visitor numbers are set to see a fall, vacation home bookings and enquiries appear to be strong. Throughout the coming year our magazine will feature industry updates, insights and trends as well as our usual variety of features and articles to keep you up to speed on your industry. It will also see our issue circulation rise to over 40,000! From everyone at the Florida Owners Organization, our experts Panel and our office we would like to wish all our readers old and new a healthy, prosperous and enjoyable 2009!

Ian Davies

Publisher and CEO of the Florida Owners Organization

©Florida Owners Organization LLC We cannot accept responsibility for any mistakes or misprints. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without our written permission

Contents

Mortgage Criteria Review 4 ESTA Entry Program 8

Please note....

We take great care in producing this magazine to avoid errors. All advertisements are printed in good faith and are to the best of our knowledge accurate. However, we are unable to check services etc to confirm the accuracy of the descriptions and claims. The wording and contents of all advertisements are the responsibility of advertisers and no warranty is given by the publishers of the Vacation Home Owner magazine as to their accuracy. The publishers can accept no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in advertisements.

On the cover...

Lennar’s beautiful Model home at The Shire at Westhaven, Davenport.

Games rooms 101 with Paul 12 Competition Time- win $200! 16 Virtual tours explained 20 Industry feature - the cfvrma 24

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email us your comments, questions or suggestions to readers@vacationhomepublications.com


What’s the new criteria to get a mortgage for an investment home?

The mortgage market has come under more scrutiny than any other section of the financial markets under the ‘credit crunch’ , none more so than in the second home/investor market. A few years ago investors were able to find an 80% mortgage for their property in Central Florida.

Many would-be investors are perplexed by what they now see as a minefield of problems in trying to secure a mortgage to purchase their new home. Every day in the media there are more and more stories of mortgage options drying up and no leaders willing to lend to investors looking at purchasing in the vacation home market. To try and get all this in perspective and give investors some definitive information at what’s out there and how to get their finance we asked Justine Assal President of ACM Home Loans of to give us an up to date appraisal of how the market stands today.

Mortgages, the bad and the ugly, oh, and maybe a bit of good!

What a tumultuous time and not to mention inconvenient! Just when property is half off in Florida, is there a mortgage to be found? The good news is that it’s not impossible to arrange a mortgage in the US for a non US resident but be prepared to verify everything, gone are the days when we enjoyed non status. Gone are the days when we promised specific closing dates, and gone are the days that flaming hoops were not a standard part of the qualification process. All joking aside though, mortgages are harder to find and certainly harder to qualify for. The US mortgage process, aside from the lingo, is really quite similar that of the UK. Instead of using income multipliers, US lenders work with a “debt to income” ratio. Quite simply it is your monthly debt (current mortgage, credit cards, car payments and the proposed new mortgage payment) divided by your monthly income. No rental income on the new property can be used and the ratio must be less than 45%. More good news is that the few lenders still offering mortgages to Non US residents, generally are looking for a letter that states 2 years of income and year to date earnings. This can be more forgiving to the self employed as audited trading accounts are not usually required.

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Mortgages are generally a maximum of 70% of the purchase price at the moment and rates are all over the board. It is not unusual to expect that a non US resident would be in the mid 7’s to 8’s. It also makes a big difference what you are buying. For instance, condominiums are more difficult to arrange financing on than a detached villa. Even with the higher rates and more stringent lending guidelines, the hardened investors are swarming in. It’s hard to pass up the best buyer’s market that I have ever seen. It makes sense to purchase at this time and sit on the property and just realize that you might not get the mortgage of your dreams. No vacuum exists forever and it will be a matter of time before some sense of normalcy returns to the mortgage market. We will probably never see it quite as it was but I’m sure that it will relax some more and the potential to re-mortgage later is more probable than the opportunity to buy at this price later. For those of you that already own property in Florida and have “Option ARM” (negative amortizing) mortgages, now is a perfect time to modify the interest rate at the bank’s expense. They may be offering heavily discounted terms to entice you to switch out of this type of scheme, the problem being that the lenders are inundated with this type of request and cannot keep up. Should you have any questions on modifying an existing mortgage, we have a section on our web site that explains the process in detail Standard documentation for a mortgage is comprised of the following: 4 page application and a stack of legal disclosures International credit report (ordered by the lender) Letter from employer (or accountant if self employed) stating 2 years income and YTD earnings 2 months bank statements Proof of wire transfer of funds A US bank account (this is the easiest part) with at least 6 months reserve mortgage payments deposited A copy of passport Valuation (ordered by the lender)

Justine Assal is the founder of and the Principle of ACM Home Loans. Her company have a long and established history of specialising in vacation home, condominium and investment property loans She is also the present President of the British American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida. ACM Home Loans. 3700 34th Street, Suite 220. Orlando, Florida. 32805 Tel: 407 226 7251 Email justine@acmhomeloans.com

www.acmhomeloans.com

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A/C & HEATING Can you afford an expensive air conditioning or pool heater break down? Many owners make the mistake of taking care of their A/C’s or pool heaters when they break down - this can result in large repair or even replacement bills and the potential loss of rental income if your guests need to be re-homed until the unit is up and running again.

Regular servicing can stop unnecessary break downs, save you money and upset for both you and your guests. Our family run business has been serving Central Florida for over 60 years and specialize in providing vacation homes the best service available. We service, repair and install air conditioning, heating, pool heaters and appliances and best of all we provide full out of normal working hours call outs and repairs!

Call us today for a free no obligation chat about how we can look after your units help you to keep your cool!

Tel:407 932 1536


One of Central Florida’s Most Trusted and Longest Serving Management Companies

Award Winning Property Management Services: • • • •

Management, Rental and Marketing Programs Interactive website with over 200 Home Tours In-House Guest Services - 7 days a week Complete Real Estate Services

Holiday Homes Inc. www.FloridaSunshine.com

Tel: 407.932.3683 · 1 800.621.7888

UK: 0871 7115371 / Inter: 001 407.932.3683


ESTA takes over from W-I9

The familiar I-94W visa waiver program is set to end on January 11th 2009. The small green forms will become obsolete on that day and the new ESTA program takes over. All non US passport holders must have either applied for and received an Electronic System Travel authorisation or have been issued with a Visa by the US Embassy - if you don’t have either of these you will be refused entry into the USA! Although these change has been scheduled for sometime the US authorities have been slow to publicize the change over and there is growing concern that many holiday makers could arrive in the US without authorisation. Many owners are not aware that the entry procedures for travellers to the USA have changed since August 1st 2008. Under the old ‘Visa Waiver Program’ the majority of UK passport holders were able to complete an I-94W Visa Waiver Program declaration and enter the USA without the need to apply for a costly entry visa; providing they complied with the programs criteria. The new program is called Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) and will become mandatory on January 12th 2009. All visitors entering the USA on or after the 12th will have had to applied for and received authorisation to travel to the USA. 8 


The old I-94W system for entry to the USA was introduced in 1986 and as of January 2006 some 27 countries, including the UK, were designated by the US to participate in the program. This new ESTA system is based on the successful Australia ETA system which has been in place for some years. There have been many reasons for the change of system given from the onward battle against terrorism to saving paper, but many believe the old I-94W system needed st to be brought into the 21 Century. There are two main benefits listed to visitors; 1) Entry authorisation lasts for two years or until the authorised persons passport runs out (which ever is the earliest). 2) Visitors will know before they leave their country of origin that they should be OK for entry into the USA. [Although you have an ESTA authorisation there is still no guarantee that you will be granted entry and the immigration officer when you arrive has the final say in your entry or not as it is today!]. The ESTA system is voluntary until January 12th next year, but initial figures show that there has not been a large take up on the new system. This may be possibly because many travellers are unaware of the system or more likely although you used ESTA and received authorisation – your still have to complete and hand in a I-94W on entry to the USA! You must have a machine readable passport to use the ESTA system, if you do not have a machine readable passport you must apply to the US Embassy for a visa. When to apply? Applications have to be made via the web based system, which will cause problems for the few travellers who do not have or use the Internet. Unfortunately we were told that the new system is an ‘Electronic Authorisation’ and must be completed online! Non Internet users must apply for a visa through their country’s US Embassy. Applications must be completed at least 72 hours before departure – applications can be made after that but will run the risk that travel approval may not be received ahead of travel. What happens to ESTA Applications? One the online application has been completed and, assuming it is satisfactory, the system will normally respond with an approval very quickly. You should make a note 9 


of the ESTA approval number in case you need to access your application later. Some applications may take up to 72 hours to approve whilst data is checked. Currently, (notice the currently), there is no charge for a ESTA application and no more information is sought than has been required under the old I-94W system. Delays in receiving a response can vary from high volume of applications at that time to trouble with your airlines computer system validating your ESTA data. Who can complete the ESTA application? Each family member travelling is required to complete an ESTA application, and third party entry of data in to ESTA application is permitted – whether a relative or not. However, the third party must be completely certain as to the accuracy of all entries on the application. Any inaccuracies will be taken up with the applicant – not the third party and the applicant remains totally responsible for their own records. APIS and ESTA? Travellers who have been to the USA over the past few years will know of the additional information they have to supply, called APIS (the present Advanced Passenger Information System), is required relating to the travellers journey. As ESTA and APIS data cover two different requirements, both systems will still run independently, meaning all travellers must complete both prior to travelling. It has been suggested that at some point the two may be merged so that duplicate information does not have to be provided, but at this time there is no planned merger. Repeat visits? Updating your ESTA data for repeat visits within the 2 year period duration is recommended but is not mandatory. The main reason to do this is that upon entry to the USA, the Customs and Boarder Protection Officer will have your APIS and ESTA data on his screen at the same time whilst he checks your passport and details. If the data does not correspond exactly you will be questioned as to why. Therefore, updating the ESTA with new arrival and 1st night stay data will save you time and hopefully mean a smooth entry to the USA. Remember to keep the ESTA approval number safe so you can access your records easily to update the information. 10 


I don’t know my US destination address or flight details yet? ESTA applications can still be made without the full address of your 1st night stay or flight number. In the short term flight details are not required and a generic address only will suffice, e.g. City and State. Applicants should register full details of address and flight as soon as they are known. ESTA Refusals? Experience to date conforms that the ESTA has not created additional refusals to travel over current levels – currently ESTA refusals are less than ½%. Any applicant receiving a refusal and still wishing to travel to the USA will need to apply to the US Embassy for a visa. Further information can be found at www.cbp.gov/esta Apply for your ESTA travel approval at http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov * We at the Vacation Home Magazine would like to hear your comments on this and other planned changes to the US Boarder Controls. Let us know if you, family or your guests have problems applying, gaining authorisation from the ESTA system or at Immigration Control in the US. E-mail us at readers@vacationhomepublications.com

Immigration Law offices of

Lisa krueger Khan, P.A. Practicing exclusively in US Immigration and Nationality Law since 1997 & Executive Vice Chair for the American Immigration Layers Association (AILA), Central Florida Chapter.

With extensive experience in preparing E-2 and L-1 visa cases for U.K. nationals

7932 West Sand Lake Road Suite 303 Orlando Fl. 32819 Tel: 407 351 9075 E-mail: lisa@lisavisa.com

www.lisavisa.com


Games Rooms

A must for your vacation home or is it just a load of old Balls?

It does not seem that long ago that the two phrases ‘vacation home’ and ‘games room’ would never be mentioned in the same sentence, now, the two are almost inseparable and games rooms have become a standard feature of not just the higher quality homes but universal for all new vacation homes. But do you need a games room in your home and what should it contain? Who can you trust to give the best advice?

As with just about everything else in the vacation home industry, the standard of games rooms vary from home to home, with no real set requirement. The first games rooms were no more than an empty garage with a pool table and air hockey table purchased at Toys’R’Us placed in the centre. They had no additional lighting or air-condition! The original concept was more to allow owners to charge a few more dollars a week rental, but as competition for bookings has increased they have become essential to attract bookings than raise extra revenue. Not every renter wants a games room in their vacation home and often those who look for a home with one use it very rarely during their stay. Many mangers now insist on homes they market for rental have a games room. But will it help attract more rentals for your home? 12 


Our research has shown that games rooms are one of the most asked for requirements when potential guests are looking for a home and can be a deciding element in the final choice. As the demand for games room equipment has grown, there is now a number of specialist companies providing more and differing equipment for them. But the question of what to include and the quality of the equipment is yet another grey area for owners. The main driving factor for many owners is cost; how much can I afford and will I see a return on my money? I popped in to speak to Paul Dudley a leading specialist in all aspects of games rooms at his impressive show rooms on the west end of the 192 in Kissimmee. Paul has a large show room with a good selection of pool tables, foosball and air hockey tables along with electronic games consoles, slot machines and darts boards. Not to mention tables, chairs, wall coverings and memorabilia. I asked Paul his advice for an owner looking to convert his garage into a games room. “The first thing I do when an owner comes in to enquire about games rooms is ask a few basic questions before we even start looking at the equipment.

I ask them to think about what they want on the floor? What they want to do with the walls? And, what additional lights they are looking at installing? The basic they will need to do is seal the floor with a special paint that is strong enough to allow cars to use the garage in the future and not pull 13 


the paint off the floor. Although we do a number of carpets that are almost as cheap as the paint, these do give the games room a plusher feel. Here again, it is important that the carpet is stuck firmly to the floor and not just laid.

professional look.

The walls should really be painted, it brightens up the room and again it gets it away from looking like a garage. I usually suggest painting the lower half of the walls a darker colour than the upper part of the walls, again to give a

We can also put up false walls around water tanks etc for both appearance and safety. Most garages have just a single light fitting and it is fairly inexpensive to add an additional fitting or two to give the illumination needed in a games room. If owners what to spend a bit more we can install a pool table light. Once we have established what they want to do with the room, then we can look at choosing the rooms equipment. The basic games room needs three pieces; a pool table, a foosball and air hockey tables. All three come in varying degrees of quality and obviously price. I also recommend that all games rooms have a side table and a couple of chairs. This encourages guests to place their drinks on the table and sit in the chairs rather than on the equipment they are not using at the time. The overall cost for us to convert a garage into a basic games room starts at around $1500, with an average costing $2000.” Owners can obviously upgrade the decoration or equipment as they want from Paul’s showroom. This ranges from an electronic basketball machine to a fantastic electronic 60 game arcade, costing $4700! Then of course, you can look at TV’s, games consoles……………. 14 


Paul recommends that owners purchase a pool table that can be repaired. “The very cheap tables can not be repaired and if damaged have to be completely replaced. Apart from the one very basic pool table we sell we can repair and recover all the pool tables supplied by us, which is important and can save owners money in the future.” He added. Returning to my original question; should all vacation homes have a games room? In the current climate I would say definitely yes! Games rooms may not increase your weekly rental rate but it will ensure greater interest from potential renters and hopefully subsequently more bookings. However, poor planned, poor quality, dimly lit, hot, humid garage with a pool table in it will not impress you guests! My last observations are; (1) get sound professional advice to ensure you and your guests get the games room you want and (2) provide a quality games room that compliments the standard of your home and does not detract from it or looks like a poor addition.

Ian Davies For more information and a free no obligation discussion call Paul on 001 407 238 2389 or e-mail him on pauldudley@earthlink.net

You can see Paul’s games room set up videos at www.floridavillaservices.com

Florida Villa Services Inc. 8681 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee. Florida 34747.

Jo & Andrew’s ‘ultimate’ games room of Emerald Villa


Why invest in a 360 tour Now more than ever before our post bag (electronic and snail), is full of correspondence from owners looking for ideas to increase the number of self generated, enquiries and subsequent bookings for their homes. Although all have their own web sites for their homes, the quality and contents of the sites differ greatly. Research has proved that visitors to your site will spend under 5 seconds seeing if your site appeals to them, if it does not catch their attention their gone to the next site. For every minute that a potential guest is looking at your web site, the more they are more likely to book your home or looking at it another way; it’s also one minute less that they are looking at a competitors web site!

A picture is worth a thousand words, roughly. Visitors to your web site are looking for vacation accommodation that fits their requirements and needs i.e. number of bedrooms, spa, large screen TV etc. This information can either be expressed by a lengthy and uninteresting paragraph or via a small number of photographs. It would seem people are no longer satisfied with being fed information via a web site. Whilst the modern day Internet user is smart and savvy, their attention span is often limited. Your clients need to be persuaded to remember you and your product above every other, yet they need to feel they are in control and free to explore at their own pace and gather information on your home as quickly or slowly as they wish. More and more owners are reducing the text content of their web sites and increasing the number of photographs. However this can bring another problem; high resolution photographs can take sometime to download, no matter how fast your Internet speed is. We have all visited web sites and sat waiting for what seems an eternity for the page to load. If you’re like me, you will move onto the next site before it loads! So how can you provide high quality images, covering all aspects of your home, that show the quality and amenities it offers and loads quick enough to keep the visitors attention and stop them moving on? Your web site needs to have a clean, professional and eye catching look, it should also have a good blend of text and images to gain the interest of the visitor. A highly effective tool

to allow your visitors full interaction and a chance to explore your home is a ‘360’ or ‘virtual tour’. These tours make visitors feel more in control and free to explore at their own pace. A good tour will add that WOW factor to your site and ensure potential guests remember your site and your home. 20 


So what is a 360 tour? Simply, a 360 tour is a series of photographs taken from a fixed point in the centre of a room or area., taken one after another in succession from a starting point at regular intervals covering the a full 360’s. This series of photos are overlaid over each other and stitched together (joined) using a computer program to produce a single long photo. This photo is then loaded into a second program which shows this single photo as an interactive panoramic view of the room or area. Although it gives the impression of watching a ‘TV’ program, actually you’re just focusing on a small part of a larger picture. The viewer can move his gaze left and right and up and down only in the realm of the original photo. All these single room/areas are then combined in a complete virtual tour covering the whole property. This tour can then be loaded on to your web site via your own ISP or more often the tour is held on the 360 tour providers server and interacted by visitors to your site from there, with no disruption or disjointing from your own site. 360 tours are relatively inexpensive and easy to arrange and have shown that they entice visitors to spend more time on your site exploring your home. Ensure that your 360 tour is current and up to date, we recommend that you should renew your tour biannually to ensure the relevance of your tour. We would like to thank Paul Stewart of Croft IT Services for explaining, demonstrating and working with us to produce this article.

To contact Paul and find out more about 360 tours call him on 863 420 2902 or visit his web site at www.croftitservices.com which has examples of the type and scoop of his 360 tours.


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Industry feature There are reportedly in excess of 600 ‘managers’ of vacation homes in Central Florida; these include the larger more recognised form of management companies, looking after hundreds of homes, right through to the small husband and wife manager team who look after a dozen or so homes. Although all mangers are licensed there is no State or County organisation to ‘oversee’ vacation home managers. Managers have no regulating body or authority checking on their quality, standard, many barely conform to State or County regulations. Your home must be inspected by the State Inspector before being licensed for short term rental but your manager is not specifically inspected to ensure they are looking after your home correctly! One organisation that promotes itself as the standard bearer for the industry is the Central Florida Vacation Managers Association. The association was formed some years ago by a number of vacation home managers who were interested in forming a group to promote standards and professionalism in the management of vacation properties. This organisation under went a small name change this year to ‘Central Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association’ (CFVRMA) to be seen as more vacation home orientated. But who are they? What effect do they have on the industry and can they help or reassure independent vacation home owners that employing one of their members will safe guard them against bad management or worse? Is the CFVRMA the light at the end of the tunnel for owners looking for a trustworthy and reliable manager? Or worse are they just there to promote themselves? To try and get the answers to some of the main questions raised by many owners and other industry professionals, Randy Thomason, the out going 2008 President and CEO of Imagine Vacation Homes kindly agreed for me to interview him on the association. Randy purchased a failing vacation home management company just over two years ago after retiring from a successful business career. Until he bought the company and moved to Florida in 2006 he had no working knowledge of the vacation home industry. He manages around 200 homes at this time and is looking to increase that number over the next year or so. His company manages a number of high standards homes to service not only their in-house bookings but Virgin Holiday customers. I meet with Randy in his management offices on Route27 in September.

q. When did you become involved in the CFVRMA? a. “I joined the managers association as soon as I took control of the

management company I purchased. I was elected to the association’s board and served for a year before being elected the associations President at the beginning of this year.”

q. How many members does the association have? a. “At this time there are around 180 members of which just fewer than 50% are

managers. The other members are companies and individuals who work with or support the industry in some form or another.”

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q. What status is the association and how is it funded? a. “The association is a non-profit organisation and is funded solely by member’s subscriptions and between $7-10,000 profits from the publication of a visitor guide called Latitude. We do not have a large expenditure so the income we receive covers the running of the association”

q. Can you explain what the main aims of the association as it stands today? a. “The main aim and focus of the association is to establish a standard for

vacation home managers and to ensure the continued growth of the industry. We also provide networking for our members and we have our own web site at www. vacationwithconfidence.com to help promote our managers homes”

q. How are you trying to achieve this? a. “We educate and keep our members informed on all aspects and changing

regulations of the industry,”

q. Do you have any dedicated program where managers can undertake training through the association and gain a recognisable ‘qualification’ that owner's can recognise? a. “No, it is really down to the managers to ask for help. We have members of various degrees of experience and they are pleased to assist or work with other or newer managers. The can always seek help if needed, at one of our meetings.” q. What do your members get for their membership fees? a. “Members can learn everything they need to know about the industry.

Knowledge is essential; I have only just learnt that all rental homes break fire regulations if there are more than two locks on the front door. We have monthly member meetings and many social functions.”

q. You mentioned standards and professionalism of managers who look after our reader’s homes, what standards do your members have to reach to join the CFVRMA? a. “We have a code of ethics that all members, full (managers) and associate members have to abide to; these cover the way they advertise, treat owners and the homes guests. Our web site has the full details.” q. How do you check up on your members to ensure they reach and continue to abide by this code? a. “All new members have to be approved by the board of directors. If a member is proved to be contravening the code we then take action against them.��� q. Who makes up the board of the association? a. “The board is made up of a number of directors. These are members, both full and associate members, who are put forward and voted on to the board. Many of the board have

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served in different positions of the board for a number of years.”

q. What types of checks do you under take on new members? a. “None, the board discusses any new applications and a decision is made to

allow a new company to join or not”.

q. How do you keep an ongoing eye on members to ensure they comply with your code? a. “Again we don’t actively, check up on our membership, but if something comes to light we again discuss it and take the appropriate action.” q. Does the association have a bond program or other safe guard; to protect owners should one of your manager members go bust or out of business owing owners rental fees etc?” a. “No.” q. Can you explain what would happen if an owner contacted you because they had a dispute with their manager who is a member of your association? a. “If we receive a complaint against one of our members we have a small investigative team that will look at the problem. If they think it necessary, they will speak to the manager and investigate the matter. We will then work to find a solution to the problem, if one exists.” q. What powers do your investigators have to gain information from a member following the complaint? a. “None, we can only ask the member to speak to us or provide any documentation in relation to the complaint.” q. If you discover that one of your members has failed to comply with your code or worse committed some form of dishonesty, for want of a better title, against an owner or guest, what punishments or sanctions can you impose on that member? a. “The only sanction we have is to expel a member from the association. We are not able to fine or levy any other punishment on them.” q. So the only deterrent for members to abide by your code and deal with owners and guests is expulsion from the association? a. “Yes, it is something we use and expelled an associate member recently as they were not complying with our advertising code of ethics.” q. Do your members have to file any annual returns, such as financial, so that you can ensure that your members are in good financial standing or such like? a. “Again no. We rely on every member to abide by our code of ethics.” q. The vacation home industry is a fairly close knit community and as often happens if a company is having financial or other problems rumours start to circulate. If such a rumour came to notice about one of your members would you unilaterally investigate the rumours? a. “As far as I know that has not happened and it would be something we may possibly look at.”

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q. But there is no way you would ‘red flag’ the company to other managers, service providers or more importantly owners? a. “No, I can not see that happening.” q. Can you see the association becoming more proactive and take on a more administrative role to ensure and enforce standards and practices on its manager members to safe guard independent vacation home owners? a. “No. Although we want to set a standard for managers in the industry we are not in a position to take on a more proactive or regulatory role.” q. Lastly, where do you see the CFVRMA going in the next five years and what would you say to independent owners? a. “I hope that in the next five years we will see more and more managers joining our association. For owners, I would ask them to ask their managers to join the managers association and learn more about their industry.” q. Your Presidency ends at the end of the year, what will you do then? a. “Past Presidents are on the board for one year after their presidency ends, so

I will still be a serving board member in 2009. Some past presidents have been re-elected, so I may stand as the 2009 president if asked.”

The CFVRMA markets itself as ‘the voice’ for the industry and can list some of the best management companies in Central Florida as it’s members. Our interview was instigated due to the number of questions our readers had raised about the organization. I believe Randy, as I hope you will agree, was very honest and straight forward in his replies to my questions, which is a credit to him. However he answered only some of the questions about the organization. The questions only you can answer and he can not are;q. The CFVRMA has only around 15% of Central Florida’s managers as members, so can it really represent or speak for vacation home managers? q. Those member managers, manage a small percentage of the total number of vacation homes in Central Florida; so can they speak for the majority of owners? Perhaps more importantly, do owners what the CFVRMA to speak for them? q. How can a self governing member focused organisation be trusted to deal with problems/disputes arise properly, unbiased and openly between their members with owners or industry providers? *Randy was given the opportunity to review this article and did ask for some omissions and additions to be made. However, he was not able to supply corroborative and supportive information regarding his additions, or details of his organizations professional courses, their lecturers or people who have undertaken them prior to printing in December. We would be interested to hear from our readers on your views and experiences of the CFVRMA, e-mail us at readers@vacationhomepublications.com

Ian Davies 27 


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