Downtown Miami Defies National Trend with Residential Occupancy Up to 93 Percent

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor Less than three years ago, tens of thousands of condo units built during the 2002-2008 boom sat empty in downtown Miami. Yet what was arguably the worst real estate market in the country following the crash [...]

Less than three years ago, tens of thousands of condo units built during the 2002-2008 boom sat empty in downtown Miami. Yet what was arguably the worst real estate market in the country following the crash now stands out as one of the strongest.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Miami Downtown Development Authority, 93 percent of the 22,785 condo units constructed since 2003 are now occupied with primarily full-time residents, signaling a tightening of the market as a result of limited remaining inventory. Conducted by Lewis Goodkin and Craig Werley of Goodkin Consulting/Focus Real Estate Advisors, the report finds that 84 percent of condo units built during the building boom in downtown Miami have been sold, credited to strong demand for urban living in Miami.

The Miami Downtown Development Authority looks at some of the projects hardest hit during the real estate crash that today stand as further proof of tightening in the market.

For example, with 342 units, the Epic was 17 percent occupied in 2009; today, occupancy stands at 89 percent. Once classified by the New York Times as a “monument to excess,” the Icon Brickell had an occupancy rate of only 4.9 percent in 2009; today, this 714-unit complex is also 89 percent occupied. And the Infinity at Brickell, which had an occupancy rate of 12 percent in 2009, is today almost fully absorbed with an occupancy rate of 98 percent.

The unsold inventory of new condo units in the downtown Miami area declined more than 25 percent in the past 12 months while prices continue to rise. “Downtown Miami continues to prove itself to be one of the country’s most resilient markets,” said Alyce Robertson, executive director of the Miami Downtown Development Authority. “Demand is quickly outpacing supply and as a result, developers are once again coming off the sidelines to build new projects—and nearly a decade earlier than even the most bullish economists predicted.”

“Downtown Miami continues to defy national trends in real estate economics,” said Craig Werley of Focus Real Estate Advisors. “Foreign demand for residential product characterized by mostly cash buyers is driving a market rebound not seen anywhere else. This is particularly remarkable considering the foreclosure crisis that continues to grip much of the rest of the region and state.”

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Photo Credits: Icon Brickell Official Website