Miami Herald asks agents about the state of the market

by Andrew Morrell

When clients have questions, their real estate agent should have an answer. For the fifth consecutive year, the Miami Herald sought answers from agents, brokers and other real estate industry experts on the state of the Miami housing market. Between April and May this year, the Herald, in conjunction with research firm Bendixen and Amandi International, conducted interviews with 100 local experts in English and Spanish. The questions asked and the answers given touched on a range of issues, from expectations of home price appreciation to climate change to the city’s hottest neighborhoods.

Here are some of the biggest and most surprising takeaways from the survey:

Now is the time to buy

In last year’s survey, most agents told the Herald that a buyer’s market was on the horizon for South Florida. A wide majority of those interviewed this year said that prediction had come true: 69 percent said now was the right time to buy, while 16 percent considered it a seller’s market.

Perhaps the difference is that more consumers are responding. Sixty percent of those surveyed said they were seeing a shift in interest toward buying rather than renting.

Price and location make the difference

While most agreed that buyers rule the Miami home market, this wasn’t true across all price points or locations. 

“It really is a tale of two markets,” said Anthony Williams of Bendixen and Amandi in an interview with the Miami Herald. “When you’re talking about prices over half-a-million dollars, it’s a buyers’ market… But at the $350,000-$400,000 range, it’s definitely a sellers’ market, because that inventory has not seen much growth.”

When asked specifically about homes and condos priced above $1 million, 41 percent of respondents said the properties in their markets of expertise were overvalued. Miami Beach, Brickell and Coral Gables were the top three areas where survey-takers thought properties were most overvalued. But if they had to pick one location to “avoid buying altogether,” it would be Brickell.

“After many years of careful planning and hard work, Brickell is nearing its full potential,” said Matt Allen, COO for The Related Group, in an interview with the paper.

Where investors should look next

For those looking for a deal, most experts surveyed this year named North Miami, Little Havana and Homestead as top candidates. The second and third cities in that list also ranked among the top three markets for investors looking to maximize returns in the next five years or so (Edgewater ranked No. 1 here).

However, those cities were familiar choices in the discussion of value neighborhoods. Some at the Herald seemed surprised that Kendall made the list among Miami’s hottest home markets, but real estate professionals in the know point out that the under-the-radar spot has a lot to offer.

“Kendall has a lot of the same things that people look for in family-friendly neighborhoods such as Coral Gables and Coconut Grove — good schools, shops, restaurants and health care — but it’s much less expensive,” said Dan Castillo, broker-owner of Prosper Realty Group. “It’s also a good place for first-time home buyers. The only catch is that it’s far away from everything, although not as far as Homestead.”

Top concerns: Climate change, appreciation, traffic

A majority of survey respondents this year (61 percent) said they were concerned about the impact of climate change and sea level rise on the local real estate market, a slight increase from last year. However, even more (66 percent) said their clients hadn’t asked about it.

“Buyers still want to own property in Miami, and while [sea level rise] is a topic that is discussed, the proactivity of local city and county leaders demonstrates the engagement of preparation activities,” said Nancy Klock Corey, regional vice president for Coldwell Banker, in an interview with the Herald.

Agents and brokers seemed more concerned about home values, which 63 percent said would remain flat over the next 12 months. 

“Home prices have risen … for 91 months of consecutive increases,” explained Lynda Fernandez of the Miami Association of Realtors. “Based on current market performance, we expect price growth to remain below five percent for both property types.”

Traffic congestion was yet another major concern floated in the survey, one that several agents said is directly impacting their clients’ decisions. One anonymous respondent said he or she was “forcing people to look at traffic [patterns] to make a purchase decision.”

“People are now moving toward areas located near public transportation,” said another agent. “Specifically trains: the Metro, Tri Rail [and] Brightline.”

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