For many prospective Florida homebuyers, buying a stand-alone house can seem overwhelming. The ongoing exterior maintenance and landscaping requirements damper your ability to enjoy Florida's best. Many buyers prefer to work with Bay Real Experts to find and buy a Panama City Beach or Laketown Wharf condo for sale.
While buying a condo is a great alternative to a stand-alone home, Florida condos have some unique factors that buyers must be aware of. Here’s what you need to know about the Florida condominium market to make an informed decision.
A look at past problems
In 2021, the Champlain Towers South
condo building in Surfside, FL, collapsed, likely due to poor construction standards and a lack of general maintenance of the structure itself. The incident resulted in the loss of 98 lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage.
This incident spurred the state to establish enhanced precautions and standards to better protect condo owners and the public from another catastrophe.
The collapse led to unique solutions
Following the Surfside condo collapse, Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 4-D, stipulating that condo associations
must maintain a divided budget and conduct structural integrity inspections, referred to as Structural Integrity Reserve Studies, for each building once every ten years.
How Laketown Wharf and Panama City Beach condo associations must budget
To ensure their buildings are properly maintained and in good structural condition, condo associations must ensure their budgets can handle any necessary repairs. Under Florida state regulations, condo associations must divide their budgets into two main categories: operating expenses and capital expenditures.
The operating expenses part of the budget covers ongoing regular costs that condo associations have to pay each month. These include the following expenses:
These expenses are the condo association's responsibility and not the individual condo owners.
The capital expenditures section of the budget must go to improvements and repairs to the property. This includes the following types of expenses:
Roof maintenance and replacement
Common area maintenance
Exterior upgrades or repairs
Parking lot repairs
Structural maintenance and repairs
Structural Integrity Reserve Studies
Under the new law, condo associations must inspect each building on their property that’s more than three stories high and 30 years of age once every ten years. The inspection must be conducted by an experienced engineer who can accurately assess the condition of each building and identify any parts of the property that need repairs to prevent major safety issues down the line.
During the inspection, the engineer will provide the condo association with an estimate for any necessary repairs so they can better align their capital expenditures budget to accommodate those repairs. These inspections aim to prevent another catastrophic collapse like the one seen in Surfside.
What this means for condo buyers
Condo associations have to collect the money for their budgets from somewhere, and, in most instances, this means collecting association dues from each condo owner in the complex. With the increased oversight, condo owners can expect to pay higher association dues each year.
However, those dues go to maintaining the property and ensuring that your condo looks great from the outside for years. Remember that you’re responsible for maintaining the inside of your unit. The dues you pay the condo association will not help cover those expenses.
Why the law matters
Though it might seem like extreme condo association oversight when you’re starting to look for Panama City Beach condos for sale, the law is in place for condo owners, not to punish them. Here’s how the law better protects your interests through your contributions to the condo association through your annual dues.
Protects your investment
Though paying condo association dues can seem like you’re just throwing away money, it’s important to remember that your dues go toward the condo association’s budget for repairs and maintenance. Since the condo association is required to maintain the buildings and routinely inspect them for safety, the law effectively protects your investment when you buy Panama Beach condos.
Because condo associations are required to maintain and inspect the buildings, you’ll know that your unit will be safer and in better condition for years to come.
Makes Laketown Wharf condos for sale more attractive
When you buy a condo with the help of an experienced real estate agent like one of the pros at Bay Real Experts, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to sell it in the future. The new law effectively makes selling your condo easier. Prospective buyers won’t worry about the condo management company neglecting routine maintenance and structural repairs. This means they’ll be more comfortable buying a condo, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be able to sell quickly.
What to look for when buying Panama City Beach condos
If you’ve decided that looking at Panama City Beach or Laketown Wharf condos for sale is the right fit for your needs, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right community. Here are a few things you’ll want to look for when touring properties.
Pay attention to the exterior
When you tour the property with your real estate agent from Bay Real Experts, you’ll want to take a close look at the exterior of each building on the property. If it looks run down, it’s likely that the condo association isn’t staying on top of routine maintenance as often as it should. This means there’s a chance they’re in violation of the new law.
Consider the condo association fees
Ultimately, you’ll want to ensure you can afford the dues the condo association collects each year. When touring different condos, take the time to find out how much you’re expected to contribute. If the fees seem unreasonable or don’t align with your budget, you’ll want to keep looking. Remember, high fees don’t necessarily mean the property will be well-maintained.
Ready to start looking for Laketown Wharf condos for sale?
Ready to find your own little slice of paradise? Reach out to the team at Bay Real Experts
and let our dedicated agents show you the best Laketown Wharf or Panama City Beach condos the area offers.*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock