In 1977 a successful Florida author, John D. MacDonald, published a novel titled “Condominium” that highlighted his concerns relating to the dangers surrounding an accelerating pace of high rise construction on Florida’s barrier islands. The book didn’t spare anything or anyone, including weather, incompetent and corrupt building inspectors, poor enforcement of building codes, greedy and shoddy builders and the questionable methods of condominium financing and management.
His book might have triggered some review of building codes around the state, but any lasting concerns and effective action appear to have been limited.
And now we have Surfside.
It is too early to determine exactly what went wrong at Surfside, and a final resolution of the causes and liability is likely to be months, maybe years, away. However, it is very likely that many of the issues raised in Mr. MacDonald’s book, played a part in the collapse of the Surfside condo.
Investors interested in real estate, either for their portfolios, or personal use, should be aware that there may be some less well recognized risks, and act accordingly.
All comments and suggestions are welcome.
Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA®