Rent in South Florida is highest it has been in years and there is no sign prices will drop anytime soon.
Right now the rental market is hot for developers, but for tenants the marked up rates are eating up their pocketbooks and predictions about rent today - made before the pandemic— were way off.
Since the beginning the pandemic, the rent in Miami is 10 percent higher than projected and 5 percent higher in Fort Lauderdale, according to some studies. That translates into hundreds of dollars for tenants.
At 25 years old, Diego Saenz is renting his first apartment and he says finding the right spot was not easy.
“It was a little difficult with the whole market and everything, but within a month I narrowed down where I wanted to move. I was just actively seeking every week, every day, like hours," Saenz said.
He eventually found a brand new one-bedroom apartment with a city view in the heart of downtown Miami.
The price? $2,200 per month.
“I come from Kendall. I say it's the suburbs and I think it's on the cheaper side, but everything is so expensive there that when you compare it to downtown it was pretty much the same," Saenz said.
But $2,200, according to the online renting website Zumper, is now the median rent in Miami. That is a 28 percent jump year over year, or $475 extra per month.
In Fort Lauderdale, rent is about $257 more per month compared year over year, averaging $1,955.
Michelle Jorge is community manager at Grand Station in downtown Miami where Saenz is renting.
"I would say it's definitely boomed incredibly. What I’ve seen this year I have not seen in my entire career," Jorge said.
Jorge has been in the business 15 years and says she is seeing more people move to Florida from out of state since the pandemic— creating a huge demand.
“They were able go to the beach, do fun things they couldn’t do in New York and more job opportunities because they couldn't go to work where they are at. Here they can make money," Jorge said.
Jorge says normally it takes a year to lease 300 units. At Grand Station, she says it is only taking a matter of months with 60% occupied.
Normally, apartment communities welcome two new residents a day, but lately they move in up to 20 a day.
The high demand for apartments is adding pressure to renters who have deadlines to find a place.
“It was definitely a little frustrating," Saenz said.
The market is also forcing locals to shop, tour and lease online. They are competing against people from out-of-state for a unit and are against time for price. some of them even moving into a new home without ever seeing it first.
“I was kind of skeptic about the whole thing, so that was really kind of a setback because you have all this furniture you want to see if it fits, can I move it in….we would look at one property one day and we would look back and the price had changed significantly,” Saenz said.
Jorge says summer is usually the best time to rent, but not these days. There is no sign of relief anytime soon.
If you are looking to rent an apartment now, the best thing to do is look out for an incentive that includes reduced or free rent for one or two months.