Central Florida real estate experts weigh in on future of oceanfront condo market amid Surfside collapse

Consumers say they’re still willing to buy

Central Florida real estate experts weigh in on future of oceanfront condo market amid Surfside collapse
Central Florida real estate experts weigh in on future of oceanfront condo market amid Surfside collapse

INDIALANTIC, Fla. – Rescue officials at Surfside have moved out of the rescue phase and into recovery mode as 80 people remain unaccounted for after the partial collapse of the oceanfront Champlain Towers condo in the middle of the night last month.

The tragedy of the Champlain Towers, which has claimed 60 lives, has brought scrutiny from high-rise condo owners all across Florida. What about buyers?

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For condo renters in New Smyrna Beach, the tragedy in Surfside feels far from home. At least it did not feel close enough to make the beachgoers in the area want to cancel their vacations.

“We have been to this condo many times and we feel confident in its safety,” said Thea Shearer of Richmond, Kentucky, who is visiting with her husband and two children.

The Shearers were on a beach bike ride and said they have spent numerous vacations in Florida.

“You want to make sure the place you are staying in is safe, but we did not think about canceling,” Shearer said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Dana Sheets, who also rented a beachside condo during the Fourth of July weekend.

“I mean it crossed my mind, but no, I did not want to cancel,” she said.

Others were ready to take their Florida dreams of ocean paradise to the next level.

“We are ready to buy,” said Mark Medina, when asked if he would buy a condo after the partial collapse of Surfside’s Champlain Towers. “I’d love to buy. I sure would.”

“People are kind of looking at it and going, ‘Well, that will not happen to me,’” said Michele Boyer, a real estate agent who was enjoying the beach. “I have a client who has been emailing me saying, ‘I am ready to look. I am coming in from Ohio, and I am ready to look.’”

But there have been some changes. Both Boyer and Dewayne Carpenter, a real estate agent in Brevard County who said he has sold roughly 400 oceanfront condos in his 25-year career, believe the condo collapse in South Florida has caused some buyers to set new parameters when searching.

“I had a buyer who said, ‘I want to look at condos built in the 1990s to the present,’ based off the Surfside incident,” Carpenter told News 6.

A sentiment Sean Snaith, the director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting, agrees with.

“I think there will be a period certainly for older buildings where people will be paying attention to inspection and a willingness to do some repair work. We do not have condo building collapsing throughout the state every day. This is a horrific and singular event,” Snaith said.

So what can buyers check for?

“It all starts with building maintenance,” Carpenter said.

“Has the building been inspected? When was the last time they did restoration work? I know from my experience that balconies last for around 20 to 30 years. Old buildings are not bad. It just depends on the maintenance program. If a building has been run on a shoestring budget and there is deferred maintenance, you cannot catch up with that,” he said.

About the Author:

Award-winning investigative reporter Merris Badcock joined the News 6 team in October 2020. Merris is the recipient of a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, a Suncoast Regional Emmy Award, four Suncoast Emmy Regional nominations, and two first-place Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists’ Awards.