Real estate agents are increasingly looking in the direction of Miami. The city has a strong draw for Realtors, tourists, and new residents alike. Between idyllic locales, perfect weather, cultural diversity, recreational opportunities, and a strong tourism industry, the area keeps snowbirds and vacationers alike coming back year after year.
But any experienced real estate agent knows that you cannot look at a city as a whole. Its individual neighborhoods and districts offer as much diversity and variety as the city itself. From real estate opportunities in properties ranging from low-price vacation rentals to high-end luxury condos, each neighborhood of Miami offers a distinct set of challenges and opportunities for any real estate agent.
Key Biscayne is a unique attraction among the neighborhoods of Miami. Located on a once-isolated island in Miami-Dade County, the neighborhood now offers an experience of Miami life and culture unlike any other. It combines the isolation and peace of island living and a small community with the excitement and luxury of high-end dining, recreation, and real estate. The Key Biscayne community is highly involved and extremely safe. It offers a wide variety of public amenities, making it a popular locale for tourists, snowbirds, and year-round residents alike.
The tightly packed luxury community is on a relatively small island of only 12 square miles. Key Biscayne is home to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park as well as Crandon Park (owned by the county). Both Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean border the community. It is connected to central Miami via the Rickenbacker Causeway.
With an almost completely self-sufficient system of police, schools, and emergency services, Key Biscayne is a place of prosperity and luxury in addition to opportunities for entertainment and tourism. In other words, it is an ideal place for an agent who is ready to dive into the world of luxury real estate.
For a prosperous community, Key Biscayne has a surprisingly brief history. The island was only developed in the latter half of the 20th century and was not even connected to mainland Florida until 1947. In the years since, it has exploded into a frenzied period of development that is only just beginning to slow after the boom of development in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Long before the island community was developed, locals were interested in finding ways to connect the island to the mainland. For many decades, Key Biscayne was home to the largest commercial coconut plantation in the continental United States. It was not until the Matheson family, owners of the plantation, donated their land to develop what would one day become Crandon Park that the island’s future potential was unlocked. The Mathesons stipulated that their donation came on condition of building a causeway to the mainland. In 1947, the Rickenbacker Causeway opened for the first time, connecting Key Biscayne to mainland Florida and the rest of the continental United States. The remainder of the Mathesons’ coconut plantation was sold to developers. From there, the land quickly developed from a plantation to a small community of houses to the luxury community it is today.
The remainder of Key Biscayne came from José Manuel Áleman, a Cuban politician who fled to Florida after being exiled from his country. After his death, Áleman’s widow sold their oceanfront property, including the canal, part of which now comprises the Village of Key Biscayne. The remainder is now Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, which makes up the final portion of the island.
The island has enjoyed unusual good fortune since its founding, as well as celebrity attention and real estate development that has shaped it into a place of luxury housing and living. Former President Richard Nixon spent so much time on the island of Key Biscayne that his three ocean-view houses became known as the Florida Whitehouse. This compound gained notoriety as the place where the Watergate scandal was planned. It also was where Nixon sought shelter after the scandal became public knowledge.
The 1990s brought about another era of change for Key Biscayne. In 1991, it became the first new city incorporated into Miami-Dade County in more than a half-century. This was good news for the island since it meant that the local government could take charge of Key Biscayne tax regulations and plans for real estate development, which it did with enormous success.
The arrival of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was expected to cause massive damage to the island community. Amazingly, while residential parts of the island suffered some destruction, the worst of the storm was confined to Bill Baggs Park, with an unforeseen blessing: the rough winds of the hurricane ripped away the non-native plant life that the state of Florida had struggled to eradicate. Through government funding, the island was planted with native vegetation, making it an area that drew tourists wanting to see the beautiful natural plant life.
Since the 1990s, Key Biscayne has enjoyed a period of massive real estate development, bringing the island from a peaceful seaside village to a popular and glamorous place for luxury living. The island community is largely self-sufficient, housing local police and emergency services as well as churches and schools. There are also innumerable public amenities for recreation and other services, including public swimming pools, sports recreation centers, and theater and arts opportunities. Real estate development has largely focused on resorts, condominiums, and retail buildings, as well as luxury housing, bringing Key Biscayne into a new era that is decidedly separate from its origins as an isolated coconut plantation.
Geography and Climate
Key Biscayne has a tropical climate with high levels of rainfall. However, its wide variety of climate influences means that winter temperatures are frequently much lower than summer (as much as 16 degrees or more), an unusual seasonal pattern for Miami and southern Florida. Summers tend to be hot and humid, while winters are dry and cool. In fact, Key Biscayne experiences much cooler high temperatures than the rest of Miami no matter the season. The temperatures can range from 96 degrees in late spring to 35 degrees in mid-winter.
From time to time, Key Biscayne has to prepare for hurricane winds. However, storms usually do not make landfall. In addition, local emergency services are prepared to prioritize evacuation, frequently making the island community the first place to be evacuated in case of emergency.
Overall, the island experiences less rain than Miami proper because of the surrounding ocean. These weather patterns make Key Biscayne unique in southern Florida since it experiences pleasant weather during the warm months but also some seasonal changes, which is not typical of the greater Miami area. While this means that tourism slows during the winter months with the drop in temperature, it also opens the door to other opportunities, especially for residents who prefer some seasonal shifts.
Population and Demographics
Like much of greater Miami, Key Biscayne is a highly diverse area in terms of cultural demographics, although it has less variation when it comes to economic and educational status. This offers both some benefits and drawbacks to real estate agents as they discern the demographics of the area and how they should best approach serving the community as the owner of a property.
In 2010, Key Biscayne had 33.5 percent vacant homes out of 7,072 households. In 2000, 32.3 percent of households had children living with them. Also, 58 percent were married couples, 31.9 percent were not related, and 7.7 percent were single-mother households. Meanwhile, 27.9 percent of households were single individuals and 9.5 percent were single individuals who were 65 or older. The average household size was 2.47, with the average family size being 2.99. Since 2000, the population of Key Biscayne has risen by slightly more than 22 percent. Most recent statistics put the current population of the island at almost 13,000.
The median household income in Key Biscayne is $109,802, making the island community an obvious place for luxury housing opportunities. This is a 27 percent increase from 2010 and is in line with the average housing prices on the island, which can range from almost $4,000 a month for a rental property to well over $1 million for a luxury real estate property.
Key Biscayne is a highly diverse community. Statistics from 2000 show Spanish as the first language for just under 60 percent of residents, with English at close to 31 percent. Other languages include Portuguese, French, and German. Some 15 percent of the island population is of Cuban descent, the 31st-highest percentage in the United States. Key Biscayne similarly has high numbers of residents of Colombian, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Brazilian, Nicaraguan, and Chilean heritage, some of the highest percentages in the United States.
Key Biscayne is a remarkably self-sufficient island community and has its own independent school district. There are several schools for local families, both public and private. Public schools include Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables and Coral Gables High School. There is also a Catholic private school, St. Agnes Academy, as well as a magnet school on the nearby island of Virginia Key. This school, MAST Academy, expanded its student accommodation by 1,100 in 2012 and actively sought students from Key Biscayne.
The island is also home to a large public library that is open to all residents.
In addition to provided educational facilities, Key Biscayne has a high education rate among its residents. Some 73 percent of residents have either a bachelor’s or graduate’s degree, making the island community a highly educated one. These demographics are certainly wise for agents to bear in mind when discerning how best to approach a real estate market in a tight-knit community like Key Biscayne.
Real Estate in Key Biscayne
Like most of Miami, the 2000s and 2010s have seen a surge of real estate development in Key Biscayne, particularly in the development of condominium complexes. This has also led to a burst of population growth. A 2007 village charter amendment required future land development on the island to be approved by voting residents. This amendment has historically led to some controversy surrounding the development of some hotels and condo complexes, including the Sonesta hotel, in a community battle concerning population and building density on the island.
Downtown Key Biscayne is home to some high-end luxury buildings, including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, The Ocean Club, and Casa del Mar, the highest building on the island at 27 floors. These buildings are mostly comprised of hotels and condominiums, although some also offer short-term rental opportunities. The average monthly rent on Key Biscayne is $3,805.
While Key Biscayne’s tight-knit-community feel gives the impression that the area is “residents-only,” there are still plenty of opportunities for tourists and snowbirds, as well as other people looking for short-term rentals. The island’s reclusive, natural feel combined with the luxury setting of a bustling downtown area filled with retail space and high-end dining makes it a popular tourist destination. Therefore, real estate agents should not discount the availability of vacation rentals. In fact, with current market trends, rentals may be a wise investment for those who are already actively invested in the area.
The huge variety of amenities offered by the community, island atmosphere, beachfront property, and pleasant weather year-round, are particular draws for tourism. Google “things to do in Key Biscayne,” and you will find a never-ending list of options for recreation, high-end dining, relaxation, and more. As a place with a reputation for luxury, Key Biscayne does not disappoint in technicalities. The community offers everything from tennis (Crandon Park’s Tennis Center is the site of the Miami Open) and golf to water skiing, surfing, and fishing. Moreover, the community visitor center is open every day of the week to provide information on local haunts.
Real Estate Trends and Opportunities
Key Biscayne has been a seller’s market through the last calendar year, showing increased supply on the real estate market with lowered demand from buyers. Price corrections are becoming increasingly apparent in the market as sellers adjust their prices in the hope of finding an interested buyer, especially since most real estate developers in the various neighborhoods of Miami have long been sitting on their properties and are eager to move on. With the current trends of the real estate market, it is realistic to expect it to take about three years to sell homes in the region of $3 million. For homes that are closer to $5 million or even more, it may take closer to a decade. These factors should not dissuade an experienced real estate agent who knows how to interact with potential buyers in order to close a sale. In fact, the unique property types and prices in Key Biscayne are all the more reason for accomplished real estate agents to consider expanding their business to the island community.
The local real estate market has grown significantly in the past few years and is expected to make a rousing comeback from the lows it has recently experienced. This is largely because Key Biscayne’s unique locale has historically made it one of the most popular places for real estate in the Miami area. However, as any veteran real estate agent knows, these adjustments will take time. For those with the patience and skillset to take advantage of the current market trends, however, the future could hold a substantial reward. In the immediate future, real estate prices are likely to take a moderate hit as the market stabilizes.
Despite the island’s reputation as a place for luxury real estate, current market trends mean that it may be a good time to consider renting out properties, opening up avenues to entirely new investments that might not be routinely considered in the Key Biscayne area. While lower-end properties tend to lease better than high-end homes, there is also a growing market for high-income renters around the country. For people interested in these kinds of properties, Key Biscayne is an ideal locale. For real estate agents who have experience and are willing to take on a challenge, meanwhile, rental properties may be a worthwhile investment.
However, with real estate prices going down, this is an ideal time to buy. Making a property investment in Key Biscayne during a time of significant price adjustment means that real estate agents can work down prices as far as developers will go. There is no need to limit yourself to rental properties if you find a developer who is eager to let go of their property in Key Biscayne and move on to other opportunities elsewhere. With this in mind, any type of property can become available to you, whether it is a lower-income rental property or a luxury high-rise condominium in downtown Key Biscayne. The possibilities in an adjusting real estate market are endless for agents who are discerning and tenacious when it comes to scouting out quality properties and price negotiations.
An Insider Secret for Real Estate Agents
While the market is recovering from the difficulties of the last decade and before, sale prices will remain low and may even drop in Key Biscayne. Considering this fact, it might be wise for real estate agents who look to rent and lease properties to give the island some attention. There are numerous options for lower-end properties to rent out, but high-end properties also offer unique business opportunities.
Experienced real estate agents will know that areas like Key Biscayne tend not to stay in a low price range for very long and will act accordingly. In the meantime, leasing property makes sense to increase profits both in the present and over time. Once the market fully rebounds, it will be a fantastic time for real estate agents to convert their properties to sales at adjusted prices that are more to their liking.
The key to leasing and selling properties in Key Biscayne is to bear in mind the distinctiveness of the locale, as well as the affinities and desires of potential clientele. Key Biscayne is renowned for attracting high-end buyers, so the area offers significant prospective returns. Expert real estate agents will keep these buyers (or renters) in the forefront of their minds during both long- and short-term projects in Key Biscayne, knowing that successfully attracting these buyers can lead to substantial profits.
Remember that Key Biscayne has a high wealth point and is flush with highly priced real estate opportunities. It is matchless among the neighborhoods of Miami-Dade County, with singular properties and locations that will continue to draw people back to the island for both the short and long term.
There are many different opportunities in the real estate market of Key Biscayne. While rentals are an option, you should also consider that this is a highly specialized market of luxury housing with a narrow and unique demographic of highly interested buyers. The challenges of such a market demand the presence of similarly specialized real estate agents who can hone their skills to serve the needs of the luxury real estate audience.
Veteran real estate agents will not be dissuaded by the current state of the market. Rather, they will have the foresight to see where trends are liable to go in the coming years. Current trends indicate that now is a great time to buy property. However, certain markets, especially exclusive ones like Key Biscayne, are liable to extreme periods of fluctuation. Although estimates say that the Key Biscayne real estate market will take time to adjust, agents who have a keen foresight will be prepared when this does happen. Then, they will be ready to make a kingly profit in one of the hottest real estate communities in Miami-Dade County.