Florida's 'Trickle-Down' Condo Disaster

Florida's real estate meltdown is leading to a second crisis: so many condo owners have stopped paying their fees that associations have had to cut back on maintenance and repairs, leading some to fear a "death spiral" for condos.

"Florida's condominium and homeowners' associations are facing what experts call a trickle-down disaster from the property crisis. Dozens and perhaps hundreds of condo buildings have budget shortfalls as thousands of owners, under water on their mortgages or in foreclosure, stop paying monthly fees.

Nearly half of Florida's 18 million residents live in condo or homeowners associations, communities where owners pay monthly fees for common expenses like cleaning, landscaping, pool maintenance and building insurance.

No one seems sure how many condo buildings are in trouble but the number of calls to Florida's condo ombudsman could be an indicator. They are up tenfold in recent months. The crisis could mean serious pain for Miami Beach, a resort town with 88,000 residents and 42,000 condos. If debtors walk away from their units, buildings could become derelict."

Full Story: U.S. Property Bust Threatens Condo "Death Spiral"

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