Coral Gables off-campus housing heats up

With more students enrolling at UM, rental housing has picked up

With the University of Miami dominating 260 acres in the heart of Coral Gables, the surrounding areas are seeing a stable rental market improve.

The rental market in the surrounding areas of Coral Gables and South Miami typically heats up towards the end of the summer, as students at neighboring UM begin their studies or make the move off campus, and this year was no exception.  

Gus Lopez, a realtor with Distinct Estates in Miami who has been involved in the UM rental market for more than 13 years, said rental rates in the area were up between 5 and 10 percent this summer over the previous year’s prices.

“What’s driving it is that there’s really not a lot of inventory,” Lopez said. “Over the summer it gets overheated.”

Most students who live off-campus in a condominium or rental unit, with one-bedroom apartments ranging from $750 per month to $1,400, according to Lopez.

“It’s been pretty healthy,” said Corey Schwartz, an agent at College Town Living in Coral Gables. “Students need a place to live, and there’s not a lot of housing on campus.”

Schwartz said schools like the University of Miami, along with Florida International University in western Miami-Dade, are beginning to take more students, and with limited on-campus housing, there is more demand for local accommodations.

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There were a total of 15,629 students enrolled at the University last year, compared to 15,250 in 2008, according to the University’s Fact Book.

The tenants are a mix of undergraduate and graduate students; UM has limited housing for graduate students. Many undergrads move off campus after they have already lived their fill of dorm life, Lopez said.

They tend to concentrate on a few larger buildings, like the Valencia, at 6001 SW 70th Street in South Miami, and the newly finished Red Road Commons, which is at the corner of US-1 and SW 57th Avenue. Others look to older rental buildings like the University Inn, at 1280 South Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables.

While most live in apartments, some students choose to split rooms in single-family homes, although there are a limited number of such properties available in Coral Gables, where landlords are notoriously unreceptive to the idea of young students renting their homes.

“A lot of landlords are not willing to do that,” Lopez said. “You can’t get away with a lot in the Gables.” Landlords generally have a low tolerance for sometimes rambunctious college students.

Because a number of these homes have gone into foreclosure or are in short sale because of the economy, their already small supply has fallen and demand has gone up, Schwartz said.