Article Courtesy of The Sun
By ELIZABETH ROBERTS
Published February 19, 2010
Hernan Casanova moved into his new
condominium at The Palms with high hopes. The 37-year-old property manager
had saved $500 for a down payment and the $149,900 mortgage was something
he could afford, even with a $128 monthly maintenance fee.
The complex offered a club house, a pool
and a mix of working families. Three years later, however, Casanova faces
a dire future. The vice president of The Palms says the foreclosure crisis
has emptied 40 percent of the 168 units at The Palms. With many units not
contributing monthly payments, the remaining owners must pick up the slack
and share all the expenses.
Casanova's monthly payment for mortgage and
maintenance has increased 27 percent, from $1,200 for a two-bedroom,
one-bathroom unit to $1,400. He says he negotiated a deferred plan with
the bank after he lost his job in July, but maintenance for his unit has
risen from $128 to $155.
But The Palms is not the only condominium
complex having such problems. Condo Vultures, a Bal Harhour-based firm
that monitors foreclosures nationwide, reported that in November 2009
there were more than 7,000 overall foreclosures combined in Palm Beach,
Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Condo owners that remain can tell you
the pain was not experienced by only those who lost their units.
On the Galt Ocean Mile, Kethleen Freismuter
says she and other residents are picking up the slack for 10 units
foreclosed in their building. Maintenace, she said, rose 15 percent this
year and could have been more had it not been for a state law limiting the
And things could get worse. Despite what
Casanova and the other owners are paying, it still may not be enough to
meet the The Palms' bills. Dissention has seen a complete overthrow of its
board of directors. Last April, the city threatened to turn off the water
unless The Palms paid its $89,000 water bill. When HUD paid its share, the
water stayed on, but now, Casanova says, The Palms owes $130,000 for
"The new board doesn't know what to
do. The President is making decisions without consulting anybody else. The
management company says they were not fired even though they were sent a
certified letter," Casanova said. "With nobody paying
maintenance, then taxes, insurance, lawn pool, city water and electricity
are not being paid. What is going to happen?"