South Florida's Decade of Uneven Growth and Development

South Florida’s Decade of Uneven Growth and Development

The following analysis of housing and population estimates from the 2010 Decennial U.S. Census provides some understanding of South Florida’s growth and development pattern during a decade in which a housing boom and bust occurred. These growth and development trends were first identified in various housing needs assessments performed by the FIU Metropolitan Center for Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties from 2005 to 2009. Significantly, most cities in South Florida experienced greater housing development growth rates than population growth rates.

South Florida’s growth and development pattern began slow and steady in the early years of the decade but became volatile during the “housing bubble” years of the mid-decade and the Great Recession years that followed. As the Metropolitan Center previously reported, much of the housing development that occurred in the years leading up to the collapse of the housing market were built without regard for actual demand. This resulted in an excess inventory of unsold housing units which was then exacerbated by growing foreclosure activity.

The Metropolitan Center’s 2006 Palm Beach County Housing Needs Assessment noted that the demand for second “resort” homes was also driving the market for single-family homes and condominiums. In fact, several of the FIU Metropolitan Center’s housing studies noted that South Florida’s housing supply has been skewed by speculative investment that resulted in an overall development trend toward more upscale housing demand external to the local market. This growing supply led to increasing housing vacancy rates throughout South Florida. South Florida’s growing number of housing vacancies now totals 365,295 units, of which 46 percent are seasonal homes. The table below shows, in fact, a correlation between heightened levels of new housing development activity and growing vacancy rates in many cities in South Florida.

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