The tragedy in Surfside, FL has caused many to have questions about condos. From current condo owners concerned about their buildings to prospective buyers considering condo living. With this said, it is important to remember that thousands of condos have lined the Florida coastline for many decades. Therefore, a building collapse tragedy like what was seen in Surfside, FL is an extremely rare occurrence. Below we discuss some common questions that are currently being asked.
Questions from condo owners
- What kinds of questions should condo owners be asking now? Condo owners should ask about the age of the building, when the last inspection was, and what kind of repair work is being planned for the near future. You will also want to know how much money is in the building’s reserves and when an extra financial assessment may be coming. Florida law requires that condos maintain their official records for seven years &therefore this information should be readily available.
- How often should structural engineers inspect high-rise buildings? Dade and Broward counties both require a 40-year building re-certification inspection. However, there are no similar requirements throughout the rest of the state. It is recommended that buildings should obtain certifications and resulting repairs at least every 10 years, particularly for coastal buildings being impacted by the harsh saltwater environment. A yearly or bi-yearly inspection with a fresh coat of paint/waterproofing can greatly benefit oceanfront properties.
- How do I know if my building was constructed with the highest safety standards? If the building was constructed in 2002 or after, then it should have the highest safety standards. In addition, after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida in 1992, new building codes were implemented throughout The Sunshine State. These codes have now become a national model as well.
- What should you do if you believe your condo board is ignoring a safety issue? In the event that you feel the condo board is ignoring a safety issue, you should request to have it brought up at the next board meeting. If this is not fruitful, then it is advisable that you contact the local building or code enforcement department in writing to express your concerns. If it is financially feasible, you may even hire your own structural engineer to assess the property. As a last resort, you may consider seeking legal representation for the matter.
- Is it safer to live on a high or low floor? There are unique risks in both cases. In low floors, there is a higher risk for flooding and possibly even crime. In the extremely rare circumstance of a building collapse, a low floor unit makes it even more unlikely to survive. Higher floor units will present different risks such as the ability to evacuate the building in the event of a fire. Furthermore, these units may have more impact from high winds during storms.
- Will many condo owners list their units for sale now? (Thus flooding the market and bringing down prices?) According to Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University, most people will view the recent tragedy as a freak accident. Therefore, he does not see the condo market being impacted significantly. Of course, more thorough inspections of not just units but also buildings are expected prior to closings taking place.
Moving forward, we expect to see an increase in voluntary building inspections being carried out by condo associations. This will likely result in increased demand for concrete restoration repairs and will put further constraints on the construction industry. Condo owners living in older coastal buildings should prepare for upcoming concrete restoration discussions and plan their budgets accordingly. Although these can be very high expenses, they are a standard practice for coastal buildings.
Are you looking to buy or sell a condo in South Florida? Now more than ever, it is critical to have a qualified real estate team and the proper search tools behind you. At Live South Florida Realty, Inc., we have been a leader in the South Florida market for many years. Let our team of professionals assist you with buying or selling your piece of paradise today! In addition, our recently launched “Florida Home Search” app is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. With real-time MLS feeds, this app lets you set your own alerts to notify you as soon as a property meeting your needs hits the market. Furthermore, it will also let you know of recent closed sales in your area so that you may be even more educated on the market. Be sure to download this app for your smartphone or tablet today!