During the regular Aug. 8, 2017, meeting the Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 to revise existing ordinances pertaining to the lease or sale of county-owned property, which allows for the county to employ a real estate or other agency in order to sell or lease county property.
At the following meeting (Aug. 22), Purchasing and Contracts Manager James Wunderle presented to the commissioners a recommendation to approve moving forward with a contract (RFP 17-R00062/PH) with Higgenbotham Auctioneers International, LTD, Inc., for Realtor/Marketing Agent Services. Higgenbotham Auctioneers was identified as the top ranking candidate from the pool of agencies responding to the Request for Proposal (RFP). Mr. Wunderle also asked to authorize the Chief Procurement Officer to annually renew with the same pricing terms and conditions for two renewal cycles.
Commissioner Steve Champion raised concerns that the Higgenbotham company is not a Hernando County business and that they are not currently a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) member, along with the fact that they are an auction company that is normally employed to quickly sell properties.
According to Wunderle, Higginbotham does business in multiple states, including Florida in Osceola County. “As a county, we know we’re going to be charged 6%, because he (the agent with Higginbotham) is going to be a part of MLS and there are certain rules and regulations in having that MLS (membership). So, however he splits the commission with whoever’s buying our property, at the end of the day, we’re selling our property, and paying a specific commission.”
Property Management attorney Paul Mollé addressed the commissioners, and explained that he was one of the committee members who participated in the ranking of the responding candidates. Mr. Mollé stated he’d actually encountered “a lot of resistance” from local Board of Realtors, who felt that the contract wouldn’t benefit their local members, explaining why no local brokers or agencies were candidates.
Commissioner Wayne Dukes expressed his discomfort in hiring an auction company to handle the county’s real property. Wunderle stated that the county could engage Higginbotham in further negotiations for a better commission rate, also mentioning that properties were intended to be listed on MLS, and not auctioned.
Commissioner Nick Nicholson went on record saying that he does not agree with waiting one year for Higginbotham to join MLS. “I think if we’re going to give them the contract, they need to join within a month.” After some discussion, the order was amended to stipulate that Higginbotham will apply to join MLS within 30 days, since it was unknown at the meeting how long the process will actually take.
Nicholson moved to approve the contract with the discussed amendments, which was seconded by Commissioner Jeff Holcomb.