A low-rise apartment building in Liberty City previously sold for $1.57 million in 2019. It has 14 units.
A low-rise apartment building in Liberty City previously sold for $1.57 million in 2019. It has 14 units.

Bargain-hunting renters take note: The deals may not be where you expect them.

Whether you’re looking for one-bedroom digs or a two-bedroom pad, rent is now cheaper in Miami than in Fort Lauderdale, according to the most recent report from data from residential rent listing company Zumper.

Median rent in the city of Miami dropped more than 12% from February 2020 to February 2021, Zumper reports. A one-bedroom goes for $1,580, while a two-bedroom rents for $2,000. Zumper compiled the data from its own listings and the Multiple Listing Service, but it excludes the shadow market — units that are rented by unit owners or associations directly to the tenants and without the help of a broker.

In Fort Lauderdale, rents are up — by about 2% since early 2020, to $1,700 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Rent for a two-bedroom unit rose by about the same percentage, now up to $2,200 per month.

Two factors are at play for the rent discrepancies between the two counties, said Peter Zalewski, principal with the Miami real estate consultancy firm Condo Vultures: The limit on international travel and density.

“Fort Lauderdale tends to be a more domestic market,” Zalewski said. “A project in Miami is going to have 300 to 400 units. A project in Flagler Village is going to have about 200 units. Fort Lauderdale is more adverse to development. In Miami, it’s more about build it now and figure it out later.”

As a result, supply is tighter in Fort Lauderdale — translating to rising prices.

Meanwhile, prices ticked up between the first and fourth quarters of 2020 in some of Miami-Dade County’s most affordable neighborhoods as workers fled downtown high-rises, according to the most recent Colliers South Florida Multifamily Market report.

Allapattah, Liberty City, Brownsville, Miami Gardens and Homestead were among the areas with the greatest rent increases between the first quarter 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2020. The neighborhoods have a high concentration of 2-to-3 story buildings.

The rent increase is a result of increased demand, said Julian Zuniga, a financial analyst with Colliers South Florida Capital Markets.

“When COVID hit, a lot of the people that lived in Downtown Miami wanted to go into less costly units,” Zuniga said. “From the second quarter 2019 to the pandemic, we saw rent growth in high-rises because of population growth. Low-rises have just recovered faster than high-rises.”

Zalewski is convinced there’s more to the story. “Are people with bad credit looking to rent [these units], therefore they have to pay an increased price? That may be one thing to consider,” he said. Landlords may also be increasing rents, Zalewski said, but offering incentives, such as months of free rent or other incentives.

The recent slide in downtown Miami rents is likely temporary. The migration of financiers and techies will boost demand, and therefore rental rates, Zuniga said, for high-rises over the months to come.

An ease in travel restrictions will allow potential foreign renters to re-enter South Florida, Zalewski said, boosting rent demand in South Florida.

According to the Collier’s report, median rent rose in these neighborhoods:

Allapattah, Liberty City, Brownsville and Westview by 9.8%, from $1,240 to $1,375 per month

Homestead by 5.3%, from $1,251 to $1,322

Miami Gardens by 4.2%, from $1,359 to $1,419

Pompano and Deerfield by 3%, from $1,419 to $1,463

Lake Worth and Wellington by 2.7%, from $1,416 to $1,456

Other neighborhoods saw a decline in rent prices, including:

Coral Gables and South Florida by 7.5%, from $1,980 to $1,842

Downtown Miami and South Beach by 5.9%, from $2,195 to $2,073

West Miami and Doral by 5.7%, from $1,938 to $1,834

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Rebecca San Juan writes about the real estate industry, covering news about industrial, commercial, office projects, construction contracts and the intersection of real estate and law for industry professionals. She studied at Mount Holyoke College and is proud to be reporting on her hometown.
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