Recent inventory statistics suggest far more demand for urban apartments and condos in the region than in early 2020.

Even before the pandemic, many Millennials were leaving the cities for suburban areas where they could purchase single-family homes to raise their families. Having a private outdoor space and the lower suburban vs. urban real estate prices were a draw, and the remote work paradigm caused by the virus accelerated this trend.

But urban real estate remains attractive for many individuals, as shown by precipitously dropping vacancy rates across South Florida. Palm Beach County saw its residential vacancy rate fall from 7.9% to 3.7% between early 2020 and October 2021, Miami-Dade dropped by 6.8% to 3.5%, and Broward County went from 5.5% to 3.5%. Notably, only 3.5% of apartments throughout South Florida are vacant, despite rents increasing significantly from the first quarter of 2020. 

While these numbers don’t mean suburbanites are flocking back to cities, they do show that apartments and condos, including those in urban areas, remain attractive. Here’s a look at some factors that may explain why: 

New Florida residents

Florida is experiencing significant population growth, with estimates by government officials suggesting the state could have over 24.4 million people by 2030. So, new South Florida residents are undoubtedly responsible for a portion of the reduction in vacancies. 

A new resident buying an apartment or condo in an urban area is comparable in price but sometimes less than purchasing a single-family unit in the suburbs. At $497,900 and $450,000, respectively, median listing prices in Miami Beach and downtown Miami are around the median prices in suburban areas like Quail Heights and Doral and significantly less expensive than the $1.1 million median listing price in Coral Gables. 

As the overall South Florida and urban economies kick back into gear, demand for city living may be spurred by individuals who want access to amenities and a shorter commute. 

Increasing housing prices

Buying a single-family home in South Florida is getting expensive, and it likely won’t slow down anytime soon. The Miami Association of Realtors reports that the median price in Miami grew from $382,000 in April 2020 to $515,000 in April 2021, an increase of 34%. 

It’s the same story in Broward County, which saw the median home price go from $382,000 in April 2020 to $464,000 in April 2021. And while Broward condo prices are also increasing, they remain more affordable than single-family homes, with a median price of $220,000. However, it’s also worth noting that the price per square foot is significantly lower in the suburbs, so buyers still get more space for their real estate dollar.

Simply put, buying a condo or apartment can be more affordable, so plenty of individuals who can’t swing a $500,000+ single-family mortgage in the suburbs could opt for a small city condo, despite the reduced square footage. 

More amenities

There seems to be a link between the influx of new residents, increasing housing costs, and lower vacancy rates for condos and apartments in South Florida. But it’s also good to remember why many people have always loved living in the city.

South Beach and spots near downtown Ft. Lauderdale and Miami are full of life, with many nearby amenities and a lively bar and restaurant scene that attracts younger crowds. The early days of the pandemic saw many of those venues temporarily close their doors, of course, but these establishments are back open for business.

Virus fatigue and widely distributed vaccines may contribute to demand for living in centralized, crowded areas with an easy morning commute, walkable streets, and access to public transportation. In short, some people have probably missed city living in the last two years—and they may be buying and renting condos and apartments to get back into the action.

Florida housing of all types—in many areas—remains in demand

Single-family homes are getting the most significant press and price increases. But multifamily inventory is also rapidly shrinking throughout South Florida, as the number of available condos across Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward counties nearly halved from about 24,000 in 2020 to only 12,382 in the second quarter of 2021. 

Basically, these properties types were also selling faster than they come available—and this situation is something residential CRE investors should keep in mind. 

Morris Southeast Group continually monitors trends throughout the commercial real estate industry. We can assist as you determine the best route while expanding or managing your CRE portfolio. Contact Morris Southeast Group today at 954.474.1776 to learn more. Alternatively, you can reach Ken Morris at 954.240.4400 or