Re-published with the permission oif RisenLife Realty.
Miami Beach enjoys a reputation as a popular social, economic, and recreational hub. This is true not only in southern Florida and the United States but also the world. It is also for good reason. The city’s unique culture makes it stand out from other cities in many ways. These factors make it a decisively attractive spot for tourists and vacationers, high-end luxury living, and real estate agents.
Miami Beach is the result of more than a century of concentrated development and promotion. From its very start, it has been shaped as a place where people can come to relax and live in luxury. It has many aspects that make it a highly attractive option for tourists, snowbirds, and residents alike. These include its diverse population, beautiful weather, historic neighborhoods, and vibrant artistic community.
Miami Beach was once a tiny sandbar in the Atlantic Ocean. Nowadays, it occupies 15 square miles of luxury high-rises and retail shopping outlets. Its reputation as one of the best resorts in the United States has held steady since the beginning of the 20th century and looks to continue.
For real estate agents looking toward Miami, Miami Beach holds unique opportunities in the luxury real estate sphere. Its diverse neighborhoods, such as South Beach, offer many different varieties of luxury living. There is no shortage of opportunities for real estate agents who are willing to dive into a unique and thriving market. As the end of the decade approaches, Miami Beach remains a buyer’s market. The demand for luxury housing remains high. This offers a unique opportunity for real estate agents.
History of Miami Beach
Miami Beach began in the 1870s when father-and-son team Henry and Charles Lum bought the island at 75 cents an acre. At the time, it was nothing but a sandbar covered in wild jungle foliage, undeveloped and barely habitable. The first building on the island was the Biscayne House of Refuge, erected in 1876 by the United States Life-Saving Service. The service served shipwrecked individuals by providing them with food, water, and rehabilitation. Other investors tried to start a coconut plantation on the island. This venture failed in a short period. One of the investors, John S. Collins, pioneered a new venture of planting avocados instead. His success began to pave the way for the commercial venture of Miami Beach.
The 1880s saw a rapid expansion of real estate development on the island. Collins partnered with other investors, including bankers and entrepreneurs from the north. His plan was to shape Miami Beach into a peaceful resort for day trips from the mainland. The Miami Beach Improvement Company began construction of the resort throughout the decade. This involved a concentrated effort. The island had to be cleared of native vegetation. In place of the jungle, they put developed farmland, recreational buildings, and hotels. They also built a complex system of canals to allow for the easy transportation of produce. By the end of the decade, Collins and his partner, Carl G. Fisher, provided daily ferry trips from the mainland. On Miami Beach, tourists enjoyed food, bathhouses, and beach activities.
Collins’ and Fisher’s efforts cleared 2,800 acres of uninhabitable island overgrowth. Collins’ next project was to build a 2.5-mile bridge from Miami Beach to mainland Florida. Unfortunately, the funds dried up in the middle of the project. Fisher stepped in to invest in the construction in return for land on Miami Beach. Their agreement began the real estate explosion of Miami Beach that has yet to stop.
Fisher made a concentrated effort to promote the island. His campaign painted the area as a luxury resort and winter getaway for the wealthy elite. Miami Beach was to be the southern Atlantic City, complete with every opportunity. For those who could pay, it offered opportunities for dining, relaxation, and entertainment. Fisher depicted Miami Beach as the place where it was always summer. This impressive advertising campaign continued for decades, bringing thousands to the islands. By 1915, Miami Beach was full of amenities, including mansions, hotels, an aquarium, and a full-size golf course. Brown’s Hotel was also erected that year and is still standing.
In 1917, Miami Beach was incorporated as a city. Its promotion and development did not stop there, however. Fisher’s marketing campaign continued through the 1920s. Miami Beach was depicted as the best place for wealthy northerners to put their winter homes. Development of the island surged on. Even Biscayne Bay was dredged to make room for more available land. Today, this land includes the Sunset, Hibiscus, and most of the Venetian islands.
In 1926, development encountered a moderate setback. A hurricane hit Miami Beach, slowing tourism and development. The area experienced a resurgence in the 1930s with some marked changes. Then, developers concentrated on more modest hotels and winter homes. Many of these are still standing in Miami Beach’s historic Art Deco Historic District.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the demographics of Miami Beach underwent remarkable changes. This made the area the diversity hotspot that it is today. Immigrants coming to Florida after World War II sent the population skyrocketing. In the 1960s, Cuban refugees fleeing the conditions under Castro brought their own distinct culture to the melting pot of Miami Beach. The islands also developed a significant Jewish population. In the 1980s, 62 percent of the population of Miami Beach was Jewish. In 2004, the percentage remained strong at 19 percent.
The glamour of Miami Beach also attracted some famous personalities. This further bolstered its reputation as a hotspot of fame and luxury. Al Capone brought a home there in 1928. Meanwhile, famous figures like Jackie Gleason brought the entertainment industry to the beach. Shows like “Miami Vice” also helped shape the image of Miami Beach as a place of glamour and high-end living. The population of the islands continued to surge. By the start of the 21st century, Miami Beach was a vibrant, diverse community. Its image has undergone slight changes but stayed the same in the essentials. Today, it is a place of culture, art, and diversity, as well as high-end beachfront living.
Demographics of Miami Beach
The most recent population statistics for Miami Beach put the population at 87,779 as of 2010. That number is estimated to have grown to 92,307 as of 2017, a 5.2 percent increase. At 11,960.57 people per square mile, the islands have a high density.
The wide diversity of Miami Beach makes it a unique neighborhood. Fifty-three percent of the population (as of 2010) were of Hispanic or Latino descent. Of these, most are Cuban. Many different languages are spoken in the various neighborhoods of Miami Beach. Almost 55 percent of residents state that they speak Spanish in their home. English is a close follower at 32.76 percent. A variety of other languages, including Yiddish and Hebrew, are also significant. In fact, more than 50 percent of Miami Beach residents were born outside the United States. Most are from Latin America, though there are also many European immigrants.
As of 2010, the latest year when updated data was available, there were 67,499 households in Miami Beach. Of these, a little over 30 percent were unoccupied. Forty-nine percent of occupied households were individual residents. This is a significant percentage since much of the population consists of snowbirds and tourists, many of whom live or travel alone. Twelve percent of households were single residents over the age of 65. Almost 13 percent were residents under the age of 18. Nearly 14 percent of residents had children under the age of 18. More than 26 percent were married couples, and 8.4 percent consisted of female heads of household without a husband or partner. Meanwhile, slightly over 61 percent were non-family units.
At 38 and 25.7 percent, respectively, the largest age demographics for Miami Beach are 25- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 64-year-olds. More than 16 percent of residents were above the age of 65, with the remaining 7.4 percent between the ages of 18 and 24. The median age for all residents was 40.3.
Education is significant in the demographics of Miami Beach. More than 45 percent of the population over the age of 25 has a bachelor’s degree or higher. Incomes are also solid, with a median annual household income of $47,216. A 2017 study showed that Miami Beach is the location of the fourth-most-expensive home sales in the continental United States.
The Climate of Miami Beach
Miami Beach is a tropical monsoon climate, which means it has a notable dichotomy of wet and dry seasons. Its dry season extends from November to April. During this time weather tends to be warm and sunny. This makes it a perfect alternative for snowbirds fleeing cold weather. The weather ranges on average between the low 60s and high 80s. The water temperatures remain warm and pleasant between the low 70s and upper mid-80s. These steady, balmy temperatures make Miami Beach a unique and pleasant climate year-round. In fact, it is the only city in the continental United States aside from Key West to have never reported freezing temperatures.
Although Miami Beach’s monsoon climate means it has a wet season, the annual rainfall is 51.7 inches. This is lower than the continental United States as a whole. The average temperature year-round is 76 degrees, with an average low of 71 degrees. The average high temperature is 81 degrees. This makes Miami Beach a gloriously temperature beachfront location, perfect for vacationers.
The area’s ocean proximity makes it vulnerable to hurricane season. Fortunately, hurricanes rarely pass directly over Miami Beach. The area almost never suffers damage from ocean storms. The local government still has implemented a variety of projects designed to protect the area. This has become a priority as climate change trends change.
The Culture of Miami Beach
Miami Beach has developed over the course of a century. Nowadays, it does not only have a reputation for luxury and high-end living. It also is known as a place of art, music, and culture. The city’s Art Deco Historic District maintains the world’s largest collection of art deco architecture. This has earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood consists of well over 100 buildings erected between 1923 and 1943. These include hotels, homes, and apartments. Many are still used as residences or businesses and draw thousands of tourists each year.
The Art Deco Historic District is also home to the Art Basel Festival of Miami Beach. This is one of the largest art shows in the United States. The festival features hundreds of galleries and exhibits throughout the district. It draws thousands of people every year with estimates of 77,000 at the 2016 event.
There is no shortage of art or culture in Miami Beach. The city also has the Miami Beach Festival of Arts, the Bass Museum of Art, and the Miami City Ballet. Meanwhile, the New World Symphony performs in the New World Center designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry. The islands have endless attractions that keep tourists coming back year after year. There are museums like the Holocaust Memorial and design shows in the Miami Beach Architectural District. Meanwhile, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden offers views of native plant life.
Other neighborhoods also have local art, design, and photo galleries. In particular, Lincoln Road is known for its galleries, museums, and exhibits. It also offers many retail outlets and high-end dining opportunities. Many parts of the city are known for their cycling and rollerblading opportunities. A significant part of Miami Beach’s population cycles instead of driving. This is one testimony to the unique cultural atmosphere of the islands.
Cycling is hugely popular throughout Miami Beach. Decobike, a local public bicycle system, began in 2011. The company aimed to release 1,000 bicycles for shared public use. A variety of public transit opportunities are also available. These are heavily used and instrumental to the rhythm of Miami Beach.
The city has many schools and other educational institutes for people of all ages. South Beach is home to a part of the Florida International University School of Architecture. The campus offers art, design, and theater classes, among others. The university is yet another source of the intense artistic culture of the islands. This is another reason it is a haven for up-and-coming designers, photographers, and architects.
Miami Beach is a diverse area for people of every skin color and heritage. It has also gained the reputation of being one of the most progressive and LGBT-friendly areas in the United States. Beginning in the 1980s, the islands became known as a place that welcomed the LGBT community. This image proved instrumental in helping develop various neighborhoods in South Beach. People flocked to the islands. In 2010, a Human Rights Ordinance revision in the city code added protections for the trans community. This made Miami Beach home to some of the most progressive human rights laws in the state of Florida. Today, the annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade continues to be popular, drawing thousands of tourists on a yearly basis.
Real Estate Trends in Miami Beach
Currently, consumer spending is up in Miami Beach. Residents spend above-average amounts on necessities, such as housing, and luxuries, such as entertainment. This booming culture makes it a prime location for real estate agents, no matter what their interest.
With over 44,000 households and 28 schools, Miami Beach is a thriving area. The median rent in Miami Beach is $5,000 per month. The median property sales price is $320,000. In the first half of 2018, home sales were up 19.3 percent. This shows just how well the property market is performing at the moment. The median value of owner-occupied housing units from 2012 to 2016 was $398,600. The median selected monthly owner cost with mortgages was $2,570. (Without mortgages, the median cost was $974.) In the same period, the median gross rent cost was $1,198.
The local economy is thriving. More than 300 of the world’s Fortune 500 multinational companies maintain headquarters in the Miami area. This means that local employment opportunities abound. It also means that there is a high demand for luxury housing by executives and entrepreneurs. Not every resident looking for luxury lifestyle has the same idea in mind. That is good news for real estate agents. This leaves opportunities for both residential and commercial real estate investments. Rentals, vacation homes, and permanent homes all have significant reach in the market.
The market is experiencing an increase in demand and decrease in supply. Price adjustments are steadily occurring, which is to be expected. The supply of luxury homes for sale or rent remains high, with at least 25 months of inventory. Meanwhile, low-end demand has remained strong and steady at around 11 or 12 months. Miami Beach has been and remains a buyer’s market. This means that competition is at a high despite the market changes that have occurred. The average number of days a property is on the market has increased to 130 days or more. This means the market requires patience on the part of real estate agents. Price adjustments may also be necessary to incentivize buyers.
An Insider Tip for Realtors Considering Miami Beach
With a market like Miami Beach, the possibilities seem endless, and there is some truth to that. The neighborhood is abuzz with life, activity, and innovation. It remains one of the most talked-about areas in the country. As with any property market, Miami Beach has its own unique factors that make it a great place to do business. The most successful Realtors keep these factors in mind when selecting and selling properties.
One of the most powerful assets of Miami Beach is its reputation as a haven for luxury living. This includes not only commercial but also residential real estate opportunities. Keying into the local high-end property market is a surefire way for real estate agents to succeed. This will ensure that they have properties of significant interest to buyers for years to come. This is even more relevant now. The residential market (especially the luxury residential market) has demonstrated strong growth signs. This trend has continued through the last year. Experienced real estate agents know these markets have almost limitless potential. They offer ample opportunities for establishing a solid customer base.
Additionally, residential properties near significant commercial locations are a major commodity. Keep in mind that many Fortune 500 companies keep local headquarters. Additionally, many employees live in this sector and are looking for high-end properties. Keeping an eye out for properties near office spaces is one way to gain a foothold. Aside from this, properties near recreation and entertainment venues are another major advantage. Real estate agents can use these as leverage when negotiating with potential customers. As always, success boils down to not just the skill and experience of the Realtor but also the location of the property.
Miami Beach’s extensive network of schools and family resources is also significant. These make it one of the most popular places for high-end family relocations. Real estate agents would do well to keep this in mind when strategizing where to focus their efforts and attention. Keep this trifecta of family attraction, office space, and recreation in mind. It will help direct you as you consider how to enter the real estate market of Miami Beach.
Miami Beach is one of the most prosperous parts of Southern Florida with a proven track record for growing property potential. With a flourishing luxury market, Miami Beach stands out from its fellow neighborhoods as a place of innovation and success. The area’s future continues to look bright. With the right strategies and skillset, now is a brilliant time for real estate agents to invest in the Miami Beach market.
About the author
Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America.
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