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Crucial Factors When Choosing a Neighborhood to Avoid Making a (costly) (deadly) (regrettable ) Property Purchase

Crucial Factors When Choosing a Neighborhood to Avoid Making a (costly) (deadly) (regrettable ) Property Purchase

Neighborhood characteristics to consider when choosing the best property for you and your family


By Ross Milroy  |  August 24, 2017


You’ve come to the conclusion that you want to buy property in Miami. Maybe you want a child-friendly, palm-shaded, low traffic street near the beach. Or perhaps you’re looking for a high rise condo, close to Brickell’s entertainment district – with a pool and amenities.  Or like so many Miami buyers you’re looking for a vacation condo for your family to visit, but one that will also earn income and pay for itself while you’re away.  It is important that you weigh out your priorities and determine the neighborhood characteristics that are most important to you.

One of the many things that make Miami so unique is that all of these options can be found within a 15-mile radius; however finding that perfect home that fits you and your family will require a quite a bit of investigating.

Unlike many cities and planned neighborhoods throughout the United States, Miami is a city historically created as a result of a southern railway, one built from necessity first and vacation later. Having its early years affected by the depression, WWII, and massive hurricanes, Miami has always refused to sit quietly and maintain steadfast designations and long-term city plans. Indeed, it is Miami’s ability and innate quality to metamorphose, thus adapting to changing environments, inhabitants, and politics that makes it so diverse and able to fulfill so many wish lists.

It is this same resiliency and the city’s tendency to allow for ‘quick-fixes’ that also makes for some neighborhoods and condos to not be everything you had planned and hoped to be.  You need only to drive through Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, El Portal, Miami Shores, Wynwood, The Roads near Brickell, or downtown Miami itself to see how mere meters can change a neighborhood’s appearance and aesthetic.  

Sometimes as little as one block can separate million dollar homes from abandoned properties. We are not alone in having the “other side of the tracks” phenomenon, but based on our city’s railroad history, virtually all neighborhoods have distinct differences from one side of the tracks, or waterway canals and the Miami River.

How do you ensure that your Miami dream property is exactly what you want it to be and in a neighborhood that will consistently be what you want it to be?

Grocery stores and casual dining spots are still great indicators of the local scene and neighborhood demographics. However, in this day and age of technology, they are perhaps less likely to be deal breakers with the advent of Uber Eats for food delivery and Instacart for groceries.

Traditionally the most important deciding factors affecting a large majority of homebuyers is what impact and resources the neighborhood will have for their children. Just as in most cities, the quality of schools will drastically vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Whether public schools, private or charter, each neighborhood often has institutions with their own pros and cons.

With traffic and transportation always an issue, it’s suggested that a prospective buyer review where their children will receive their schooling – immediately, and in the future. Beyond general education facilities, what are the opportunities for summer camp, where can they go for after school activities, does the area have opportunities for sports, playgrounds, and even a dog park for you to take your four-legged child?

Other neighborhood nuances that require attention include what green spaces are available. Not only do green spaces provide areas of enjoyment, they increase property values and are instrumental in reducing temperatures and improving the overall air quality. It’s important to confirm that the city is invested in keeping the green spaces in your perspective area safe, clean and routinely cared for.

What is the state of the current infrastructure of the neighborhood and how is the city working to maintain it? Infrastructure relates to water services, flood management and all areas of transportation. Not only is it suggested to review the present situation, such as how easy how easy is it for you to get in and out of your neighborhood, but also what major changes might lie ahead.

Miami is currently grappling with many transportation factors that could affect the long-term livability of your neighborhood. For example, with nearly 100 million annual visitors to Florida and an expected 1 million new residents moving to Miami by 2030, the new high speed rail service ‘All Aboard Florida’ is currently laying new train tracks through otherwise sleepy towns and neighborhoods. Local highways and major thoroughfares are often controlled by both the city and the state, which often brings about significant construction delays. Even airport expansion has the potential to affect your home, given that there are over 1,200 daily flights coming in and out of Miami International Airport putting more and more properties in direct flight paths.

Source: City of Miami Beach | Yellow areas = streets to be raised

One of the most significant recent impacts from infrastructure related issues pertain to sea level rise and street flooding.  On Miami Beach, the city has more than doubled the storm water management tax rates and the cost of flood insurance has spiked by more than 300 percent for many property owners. The tax revenue generated from property owners is now paying for bonds to cover costs of raising the streets to the tune of $400 million+. In order for the adjacent properties to keep up with the raising of the streets, the city is now instituting base flood requirement codes, which mandates that buildings to be raised as much as 13 feet above sea level. The vast majority of buildings are not structurally sound enough to physically raise them to these levels, which means that property owners will face costly challenges to keep their investments up to code. (Read more about sea level rise & Miami Beach’s plan to raise 105 miles (169 km) of streets here).


Factors that should shape your neighborhood are not only about what is there, but also what is not there and what could be built there.  If there is a good amount of developable land or abandoned properties, one must consider what could be built there – could it obstruct your view, or otherwise be an undesirable neighbor? One example of this is in Midtown Miami: when buyers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their condos in Midtown 2 or Midtown 4. Would they still have purchased here if they knew a WalMart was planned for the land only a few feet from their front doors? The convenience might be nice, but a bigger factor is the traffic it will bring and also the fact that WalMart is the country’s largest retailer of firearms.

I encourage all my clients to visit different areas of Miami while keeping these key factors in mind. Drive through Miami, look at the neighborhoods, the streets, the stores; walk in and see how people interact.  Determine if this is a place you feel comfortable and safe. If the home you’ve found is everything you ever wanted, but the shops, restaurants and entertainment options aren’t places you see and your family fitting in, you might want to continue your search. Beyond the drive, take time to look at the stats:  The Florida Department of Transportation allows access to traffic estimates by neighborhood,  Miami Dade County provides detailed maps outlining where sexual predators live in each neighborhood, as well maps that will provide information on culture & recreation, education, health statistics, and specific property information.

The old adage in real estate is location, location, location – but keep in mind, location is more than just bragging rights. Location is community and community is made up of people, places, government and recreation in your immediate area.

Ultimately, let’s remember that Miami has never, and most likely will never, play by the rules of the rest of the country, and thus affecting our neighborhoods.  Risen organically to cater to immediate needs, these unplanned residential areas have transformed, and thusly juxtaposed throughout the years, constantly reinventing and revitalizing themselves.  

Change is inevitable, but that’s not always a bad thing. Ten years ago you wouldn’t walk through the Wynwood neighborhood, these days, consider yourself lucky if you can afford to live and work there!  Location, Location, location – yes, but it’s also research, research, research – do your due diligence and you’re sure to find the perfect place to call home; a place with quality schools for your children, community areas to visit and peace of mind that you and your family will be able to enjoy your property for years to come.

… and if research isn’t your idea of a good time, thankfully our team at Ross Miami already has a great deal of inside knowledge and we’re always happy to hit the streets on your behalf!

Live Luxury. Live Miami. Rest your mind with someone you can trust. Ross has a home for you, for vacation or for a lifetime. ©

Copyright 2017. Ross Milroy Realty, LLC

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