The Real Deal Miami

Steeper rents impacting student housing in Miami, Coral Gables

By Alexander Britell | August 08, 2011 02:12PM

Red Road Commons in Coral Gables

The impact of Miami’s rapidly changing rental market is carrying over to student housing.

While downtown Miami is seeing the biggest spike, students at schools like the University of Miami are paying premiums for apartments close to school and being forced to abandon the high-end digs they enjoyed during the worst of the condominium bust.

“The rental market is just very expensive,” said Gus Lopez, a realtor with Village Realty South Florida who deals heavily in student housing near UM. “The rates are just getting more and more money.”

Lopez said rents for student housing in the area near UM were 5 to 12 percent higher than they were last summer.

According to data from Condo Vultures, rents in greater downtown Miami have increased from a median of $1.52 per square foot in 2009 to $1.82 per square foot last month.

It’s tough on students, who benefited from the sea of empty condos from the downturn and became accustomed to unusually luxurious living.

“For three years, students got used to being in very nice apartments, with new kitchens, new amenities, and they don’t want to go back to an old building from the 1980s,” said Franck Dossa, a broker at Miami Beach-based Condhotel. “So they’ll either be with a roommate in a nice building, or go to a very old one-bedroom.”

With increased rents, students are branching out — to cheaper areas like south Miami’s Dadeland, that have access to public transit.

“Last year, you could rent [a one-bedroom] at $1,000 per month,” said Stephanie Bardet, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Coral Gables. “Now, under $1,200 it’s difficult to find something decent, especially close to UM.”

Bardet said Dadeland, which is a mixed-use development in South Miami, was seeing increased activity, as were properties even further away.

Another alternative for students is sharing apartments, a trend which has also seen an uptick, she said.

“It’s the one-bedroom market that’s tough,” she said. “There’s less one-bedrooms, and the price went up, so if you have got a two-bedroom and can share, that’s okay.”

Dossa said it was difficult in areas like downtown Miami and Brickell, where a number of students focused their real estate hunting efforts in the last few years, to find one-bedrooms for less than $1,200.

“There’s a shortage now of apartments,” he said. “I was talking to a client yesterday, and I was telling him that in the next two years, we’re going to have a shortage of inventory — the inventory is already shrinking. [Students] can either go back to an old building, or, be in a nice building with a roommate.”