County commissioner's foreclosed condo goes on auction block

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By David Breen

Published May 17, 2015


The peak of the foreclosure crisis has passed in Central Florida, but its effects are still being felt by plenty of homeowners.

Among those still ensnared is Orange County Commissioner Victoria Siplin, whose Holden Heights condominium will go on the auction block next week.

The three-bedroom, two-bath unit in the Estates at Park Central complex on Grand Central Drive was foreclosed upon because Siplin hadn't paid the mortgage on it since 2008, or property taxes on it ever, according to court records and the Orange County Tax Collector's Office.

Siplin was sued in 2010 by the Bank of New York Mellon over the unpaid mortgage and taxes, according to court records. Including legal fees, her debt was calculated to be $280,858.12.

Records show that the condo association also placed a lien on the unit in March, citing unpaid assessments going back more than a year in the amount of $4,442.20.

The condo will be sold to the highest bidder for cash at 11 a.m. on May 22 via the Clerk of Court's website for foreclosure sales, The public is welcome to bid but must register on the site and provide a deposit.

According to the site, the 1,465-square-foot unit has an assessed value of $83,253.00. It was built in 2006.

Siplin and her husband, former state Sen. Gary Siplin, bought the unit in August of that year for $202,700. The same day, Gary Siplin deeded the unit to his wife for $100, records show. She became the sole owner of record under her maiden name, Victoria Pierre. The property currently has a homestead exemption.

Siplin did not immediately return a call seeking comment. In a written statement she said the amount of the mortgage outstripped the unit's value after the housing bubble burst.

"Hundreds of thousands of people faced the same unfortunate circumstances as I did with respect to an upside down mortgage," she wrote. "An amicable settlement was reached with my financial institution and all related issues have been resolved."

Her statement did not address the nonpayment of property taxes.

Victoria Siplin works as a paralegal in her husband's law practice. She was elected to the County Commission representing District 6 in 2014. Orange commissioners earn an annual salary of $78,471.12.

Siplin's condo is one of eight properties that will be auctioned on the clerk's site that day.

According to RealtyTrac, a real-estate-research company, 1,025 properties across Orange County were in some stage of foreclosure as of March, the most recent month of data available. That's a decrease of 31 percent from a year earlier, when the total was 1,483. The high-water mark for foreclosures in Orange came in August 2009, when 5,486 properties were in some stage of the process.