The Real Deal Miami

Despite slump, interest in rentals grows downtown

By Dan Weil | August 06, 2008 05:12PM

Given the massive oversupply of condominiums in downtown Miami, you might expect thousands of them to be available for rent.

That’s not the case according to Condo Vultures LLC, a condo consulting firm based in Bal Harbour.

Only 800 units are open for renters in the downtown area, the firm calculates in a report it released Wednesday. That slender supply comes despite the fact that 21,000 new condos were built downtown during the last five years, with many of them unoccupied by their owners.

“Units are being rented at a rapid pace,” said William Betancourt, a realtor with Condo Vultures’ sister brokerage, Condo Vultures Realty. “There’s an influx of young professionals who work in the Brickell area moving downtown because the cost of gas has made people want to live closer to their work.”

The blossoming social life in downtown Miami also has attracted younger tenants. “There are a lot of new restaurants, clubs and bars that have opened,” Betancourt explains. “Before, the only place for young people to socialize was South Beach and Coconut Grove.”

He even has clients moving downtown who are law and medical students at the University of Miami in nearby Coral Gables. “Young people are living the lifestyle that in the past was reserved for seasoned players in their fields because it was so expensive,” Betancourt points out.

It is reasonable rents, of course, that make downtown living affordable for younger people. The median monthly rent for a one-bedroom condo downtown is $1.89 per square foot, compared to $2.62 in South Beach.

Betancourt says he expects the migration of renters downtown to continue in coming months, as long as rents there remain below levels in South Beach.