Rental Property Investments in Brickell Miami - An Insider's Guide

Brickell is an urban neighborhood in Greater Downtown Miami, as rich in history as it is in contemporary success. Located directly south of Miami’s historic Central Business District in Downtown proper, south of the Miami River, Brickell is South Florida’s major financial district and one of the most important business sectors in the continental United States.

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2018

  Matt Angerer


Brickell is an urban neighborhood in Greater Downtown Miami, as rich in history as it is in contemporary success. Located directly south of Miami’s historic Central Business District in Downtown proper, south of the Miami River, Brickell is South Florida’s major financial district and one of the most important business sectors in the continental United States. In fact, Brickell keeps up with such notable markets as New York, London, and Los Angeles, both in opportunities for investors and popularity with customers (both residents and visitors). In the southern United States, no other place combines such a wealth of business and finance, vacation and recreation, and sights and culture as Brickell and its surrounding neighborhoods.

The current housing market trends in Miami offer an especially opportune time to take advantage of the real estate in Brickell. The market has experienced tremendous growth alongside the residential and business populations, and visitors pour into the neighborhood throughout the year. This growth has led to an increasing affordability for new renters and buyers, opening up the neighborhood to new real estate agents even more than in previous years. As the population is projected to continue growing immensely over the coming decades, Brickell is shaping up to be a premier spot for determined and creative real estate agents looking for investment opportunities in a solid, diverse market.

This e-book will discuss the remarkable history of the neighborhood and the aspects that make it such an attractive venue for real estate agents and investors today. It is a good idea to take particular note of Brickell’s reputation for continued innovation, creativity, and dynamic growth. Since its founding, Brickell has been full of surprises; populated by residents who skillfully keep up with developing trends; and a market that thrives on its people’s hopes, dreams, and hard work.

The History of the Brickell Real Estate Market

Settled by pioneers in the 19th century, Brickell started its life as a young upstart neighborhood full of dreams of a better future. It was not long before Brickell and the Greater Miami Area began an upward surge that is still going in the present day.

William and Mary Brickell, credited as co-founders of Miami, moved to the area from Cleveland in 1871. The Brickells quickly began a trading post and opened a post office along the southern bank of the Miami River, near Fort Dallas. As their financial ventures grew, the family purchased extensive portions of land that ran from the Miami River to Coconut Grove. Eventually, the couple helped connect Miami to the rest of the country by funding the Florida East Coast Railway alongside Henry Flagler. The construction of the railroad was key to Miami’s growth explosion and facilitated its increasing popularity for businesses and residents alike. After William died, Mary took on the role of one of Miami’s major real estate developers and owners, setting the groundwork for the following decades that would make Brickell a renowned neighborhood.

Working alongside the Brickells was Julia Tuttle, who would go down in history as the only woman to found a city in the United States (in spite of Mary Brickell’s contributions to the founding of Miami). Tuttle is often called the “Mother of Miami” because of her enormous efforts in funding the city’s railroad during the 19th century. Tuttle’s original connection to what would later become the city of Miami was simple: She owned the land that would one day become the burgeoning urban heart of southern Florida. Tuttle recognized the need for a public transportation system to make the city truly viable, and she petitioned Henry Flagler to continue his Florida rail line down into Miami. Flagler was not interested despite Tuttle’s repeated efforts via mail and eventually in person. Then, Florida experienced the Great Freeze of the mid-1890s, which destroyed much of the orange industry — but spared the Miami region. This convinced Flagler, who agreed to continue the rail line along the river. Tuttle gave him a large amount of her land to accomplish this.

Eventually, with the approach of the 20th century, Brickell became known as Miami’s Millionaire’s Row, the most popular and fashionable place for the local wealthy and socialites to live. Mansions began to line the roadway along Brickell Avenue. To this day, Brickell has many expensive homes, apartments, and condominiums. It has never lost its unique flair, becoming home to many iconic Miami skyscrapers, such as the Atlantis Condominium. It is with a tangible sense of pride that locals call themselves “Brickellites.”

Brickell began as a wealthy suburb but, as with all successful neighborhoods, adapted to the changing times. In the mid-20th century, Brickell adopted high-density zoning policies to enable developers to build high-rises around Brickell Avenue. Zoning south of 15th Street remained far more limited, except for the coastline east of Brickell Avenue, allowing this part of Brickell to retain some of its historic character.

By the 1970s, office buildings, hotels, apartments began to replace the trademark mansions as the dominant feature of the architectural landscape. The development continued throughout the late 20th century and into the new millennium. Today, Brickell has outgrown Miami’s own Central Business District and is one of the largest financial districts in the entire United States. Often nicknamed the Wall Street of the South, Brickell keeps pace with major competitors, such as New York, London, and Los Angeles.

Neighborhood Makeup

Brickell is Miami’s densest and fastest-growing neighborhood, with a population of approximately 32,000 year-round residents registered in the 2010 census. Today, that number is closer to 56,000. Because the entirety of Brickell is just 1.084 square miles, this also makes it one of the densest neighborhoods in the United States, with a remarkable density of 37,622 per square mile. In 2010, 62 percent of residents were Hispanic, 33.2 percent were white, 1.6 percent were Asian, and 1.4 percent were black. Many of its residents work in the financial, banking, and legal industries. Testifying to Brickell’s incredible success, the average household income is $125,500, which is more than twice Miami’s average.

Brickell is a highly educated area with a high concentration of wealth. Seventy-five percent of residents over the age of 25 have at least an undergraduate degree, and 34 percent hold a more advanced degree.

Downtown and Brickell are busier than any other neighborhoods in Miami.

The Brickell Tribune, one of the Miami Community Newspapers, covers significant events and features of the neighborhood, and Brickell certainly lacks no edge in attractions. The neighborhood is famously home to many of Miami’s major banking headquarters, most popular condominiums, recognizable high-rises, and renowned local restaurants. Brickell is easily the busiest sector of Miami with almost 200,000 employees working there as of 2009.

Brickell contains most of Florida’s foreign consulates, including Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, France, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Switzerland, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, and Japan. This makes it an important hub for international relations of both business and diplomatic natures.

Population Trends in Brickell

Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Greater Downtown Miami, which includes Brickell, doubled from 40,000 to 80,000. Currently, Brickell has more than 56,000 residents.

Public Transportation in Brickell

The population is served by the Miami Metrorail at the Brickell station, five no-cost Metromover stations in the Brickell Loop, and the Metrobus line. Metromover stations are located intermittently throughout the neighborhood, making it one of the most popular modes of transportation for locals. Brickell has Metrorail connections to Miami International Airport, Tri-Rail and Amtrak, and Miami-Dade County’s bus routes, further connecting the neighborhood with the surrounding area, nation, and the world. This wide availability of public transportation enables many Brickell residents to live entirely car-free.

Cycling is also incredibly popular among permanent residents, and taxis are quite common. Many residents walk to their destinations, whether work or recreation. Miami has partnered with the Downtown Development Authority to create bicycle lanes and bike parking throughout the city, including Brickell, making bicycling to destinations even more inviting than before.

Private organizations, such as Miami Beach’s Decobike, a bicycle sharing program, have also joined in these efforts. Decobike launched a Brickell and Downtown expansion in the past few years.

The Venetian Causeway and Rickenbacker Causeway are popular biking routes. Venetian connects South Beach to Downtown, while Rickenbacker is a notorious weekend bicycling route. So many bicyclists populate the area that it is common for the Causeway to have more bicycles than automobiles.

Brickell’s Location Within Miami

Brickell stretches south to SW 26th Road, also known as the aforementioned Rickenbacker Causeway. Further north of SW 15th Road (Broadway), the neighborhood is a combination of residential and financial properties. Meanwhile, south of Broadway is mostly residential properties. Condos and apartments have continued to expand into Upper Brickell, spreading the luxury and upscale aura Lower Brickell has been famous for.

The French-inspired Mary Brickell Village lies at the center of the neighborhood. It offers many popular boutique shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a favorite of residents and visitors alike.

Brickell is mere minutes from Downtown Miami, which is full of stellar schools, scenic parks, theaters, museums, sports venues, and even historic sites. Brickell is also located just east of Little Havana and west of Biscayne Bay, giving ease of access to both neighborhoods and allowing a free flow of movement between them.

In nearby Key Biscayne and Virginia Key, tourists can visit renowned parks and nature preserves, unique cultural locales, and popular beaches with unbeatable views of the ocean. Brickell also boasts the Downtown Campus of Florida International University, giving it a kernel of youth and pop culture that adds to the life of the neighborhood.

West Brickell lies west of the Metrorail and SW First Avenue, east of I-95, south of the Miami River, and north of Broadway. West Brickell consists of mostly residential properties along with some low and midrise apartment complexes. The condominium rush that took the area by storm in 2012 also made its way to West Brickell and involved replacing mid-century construction with new buildings. These recent construction projects were not typically luxury housing and even included affordable housing, greatly diversifying the area and opening it up to a new sector of real estate investors. For a time, West Brickell was mixed with Little Havana, until the expanded gentrification of the current decade did more to separate the two.

South Brickell is located south of SE 15th Road and extends to the Rickenbacker Causeway, east of I-95, and west of Biscayne Bay. South Brickell, like the western part of the neighborhood, is mostly residential properties with many single-family homes that date from the early 20th century (especially along South Miami Avenue). More recent high-rise residential complexes line the east side of Brickell Avenue.

The Brickell Financial District, often referred to simply as the Financial District during the 20th century’s commercial office boom, includes major banking headquarters and makes up the core of the neighborhood. Nowadays, it is full of high-rise apartments and condominiums. Correspondingly, most of Brickell’s architecture is quite new, preserving little of its historic character. However, there are still a small number of significant historical sites that mingle with newer construction and testify to the neighborhood’s colorful past.

Market Trends Every Real Estate Agent Should Know

Brickell has an increasing number of low-, mid-, and high-rise apartment complexes, greatly expanding its rental market as the population grows, as well as short-term leases for visitors. This leaves ample room for growth for any real estate agent desiring to focus on rental properties in this neighborhood. Brickell also has a significant luxury condominium sector available for purchase. Additionally, the single-family housing available offers opportunities to expand to family markets in conjunction with affordable housing, which leaves opportunities for those in middle- and lower-income financial situations to buy or rent property. Taken together, these opportunities give an enormous and diverse avenue for building a real estate business for both visitors and residents living and working in and around the neighborhood.

Condominium prices are currently dropping, which is good news for real estate agents and buyers alike. The decline is largely because of the generic condominium sector that has made inroads into the Brickell real estate market. These condos do not offer the striking views or prime location of some of their higher-priced counterparts. However, their affordability and proximity to everything Brickell offers make them an increasingly attractive option for buyers.

As the housing market becomes more affordable, more buyers are considering the area and being approved for financing. This means that a new influx of potential residents is considering Brickell that may not have cast their eye on it a few years ago, showing the constant dynamism of the Miami real estate market as it continues to rapidly evolve.

Condominiums are a large focus of the current real estate trends in Brickell. Twelve hundred new condos are projected to hit the market shortly, and developers need new real estate agents to sell them. After months of holding developed properties have turned into years, these developers are eager to move on to new projects. Therefore, they often are willing to work with real estate agents to make sales more quickly.

These price decline patterns in the Brickell real estate market are projected to continue in the foreseeable future, meaning that there is a real availability of properties to sell or rent and an increasing number of customers interested in them. Most projections show Brickell market prices continuing to decline at least until the start of the new decade, if not beyond.

Currently, the Brickell real estate market’s median sale price has dropped 3 percent over the 2017-2018 season. While there are fewer foreign buyers than there once were, there are still plenty of buyers to generate notable interest in the housing market.

An Insider Tip for Real Estate Agents

If you are considering getting into the Brickell real estate market, it is wise to keep in mind that apartments and condominiums will continue to be in high demand as the population grows in coming years. The population of the Greater Downtown Miami area has already doubled in the last decade, and comparatively stunning growth rates are projected for the next decade and beyond.

Because Brickell is such a vital residential and business hub, it will be instrumental in providing living space not only for companies but also for their employees. Therefore, it is a wise move for property investors to get in ahead of this trend and position themselves to own a growing investment in rental and luxury properties. Because of the increasingly competitive pricing of new condominiums, real estate investors have a prime opening to list their properties at an attractive price, possibly even driving buyers to attempt to outbid one another.

Additionally, Brickell remains a top recreational and tourist area, meaning there is plenty of opportunity for short-term leases, whether for snowbirds or vacationers looking for seasonal homes. This gives real estate agents and property investors the flexibility to move property or use it for long- and short-term recurring income. As Miami grows in popularity as a tourist sector, the demand for such spaces will only grow, and so will the need for investors.

Declining condominium prices are creating chances for new buyers to enter the luxury real estate market at a fraction of the price that was available only a few years ago. A creative real estate agent will be able to capitalize on this by finding the advantages of their properties, especially taking into consideration the attractions and amenities nearby. Using these to bring home the fact that their properties are one-of-a-kind, real estate agents may even be able to drive potential buyers into competition with one another and increase their profit margins as a result.

Keep in mind are advantages to selling lower-priced condominiums that do not have the same luxury appeal as their counterparts. This is because lower-priced, generic condos are positioned for an entirely different sector of the real estate market that previously was underrepresented in the neighborhood. Rather than tacking on business to an already enlarged sector, such as luxury condos, these new developments position real estate agents to take advantage of a fresh customer base looking to call Brickell home.

Get Started with Investing in Brickell 

It should be apparent by now that Brickell is a place that radiates success, offering unique and dynamic opportunities for real estate investors who have the creativity and determination to take advantage of them. There are almost limitless ways to enter the Brickell real estate market, from family homes to luxury condominiums and modern apartment complexes. The area boasts strong and up-to-date public transportation services, world-famous vacation venues, one-of-a-kind cultural landmarks, and a thriving business sector.

The best feature of this neighborhood is that it takes these diverse qualities and combines them into such a small area, easily accessible in a variety of ways to anyone. This means that any real estate agent who is determined and knowledgeable can certainly find their niche and take advantage of the surging tide. This has been proven by the number of real estate agents who have found incredible and even unforeseeable success in this vibrant neighborhood.

If you are considering investing in Miami for your real estate business, seriously look at the opportunities in Brickell. The neighborhood offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities unlike anywhere else in the southern United States. Whether you are an experienced veteran looking for a new area to expand your business or just starting out in your real estate adventure, you will find that Brickell provides almost endless possibilities for you to find your niche.


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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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