Since the local housing market picked up after the recession, Miami’s skyline includes a growing number of cranes pulling condos out of the ground. But the success story is not the only story of housing here in South Florida.
Martha Brannigan covers real estate for the Miami Herald and she has been working on a series called "Boom, Bust and Back."
Along with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, she analyzed 11 years of housing prices for every zip code in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. During her research the numbers revealed a few stories, which she tells below. The booming condo market in Brickell and decaying foreclosures in West Little River are just two of them.
WLRN: What was really shocking to you while reporting this series?
Martha Brannigan: I think probably the disparity, the fact that the inner-city had risen so [much] and the had come back so little [after the recession]. That surprised even me, because there just is really very little sign of life there. We focused so much on the boom and the condominium market coming back and the luxury market. We spent a lot of time sort of congratulating ourselves here in Miami about how we’re attracting people from all over the world. But the real fact is that in some of these neighborhoods, people are really struggling and housing is a very big part of it.
You write, “38 percent of the working households in Miami spend at least half of their income on housing.” In neighborhoods, that are supposed to be cheaper, why are some families still spending this much on housing?
Miami really stands out around the nation as one of the places where rentals are extremely expensive. Land is at a premium here – on one side we have the Atlantic Ocean, on the other side we have the Everglades — and when builders come in and build properties, it behooves them to build the highest value property that they can. Rentals have skyrocketed because there is a lot more demand for rentals as people have lost their ability to own homes: their credit is shot, they really don't have the resources to get a mortgage now that mortgage standards are much tougher. So demand for rentals is high and that has helped boost prices on rentals.
What are some other trends you see happening five, 10, 15 years from now? Where do you think we’re going to be then?
I definitely see Miami becoming a much more vertical city and people wanting to be somewhere where they can be without a car. It’s kind of hard to believe, but you do see much more walkability in some of these downtown areas, the Brickell area in particular. They’re building streets with the idea in mind that people will actually walk on them, which is kind of a different thing for South Florida. So I do think walkability, closer-in living and being able to work close to where you live will all become much more prominent just because traffic is such a horror.
Affording those new units is going to be difficult. Where do you think low-income families are going to go?
That’s a hard one to answer. There are efforts to build workplace housing and affordable housing for lower-income people. Those are almost exclusively driven by tax credits. No one seems to build that housing except for non-profits… so it seems as though in many cases that people are pushed out to the fringes, people are pushed out to the outlying areas.
The final story in the series, about Weston, will be published in the Sunday edition of the Miami Herald.