(SFGN, 2/14/17)

Last time, I identified 10 potential community candidates here in East Broward based on a high Walkscore and presence of a Publix supermarket at the “community core.” This week we will go one step deeper and explore just what the housing stock looks like around these cores.

As a starting point I decided to take a look at areas within three-quarters of a mile – a casual 15-minute walk – from these cores. Maybe that is arbitrary, I don’t know. But we have to start somewhere. Within that circle, I wanted to see just how many single family homes and townhomes there were currently. Was this core already developed commercially? Was it condo and co-op city? Or did the numbers suggest mixed use?

Finally and perhaps for some most importantly, is the consideration of cost. Can the typical person afford to live in that location? Are these merely enclaves for the One Percent, or do they have accessibility to a wider cross section of the public?

From both the Broward County records, and my personal financial estimations, I have devised the numbers in the table next to this column. The price range listed is what is known in statistics as the intraquartile range –the broad center of values between the 25th and the 75th percentiles for the location. The most expensive, and least expensive, homes are excluded.

There are a few observations I will make before continuing on with the series in our next column. First, you can see that the density of single family homes and townhomes varies greatly across the 10 potential communities. Clearly, some of the areas have greater levels of high rise and/or commercial development. That does not necessarily make them less communities; perhaps quite the contrary. That is something we are going to have to consider as we proceed. Does the definition of community need to be limited to the traditional neighborhood, or are newer, mixed forms possible?

Actually, the second observation is you could argue that newer, mixed forms are in fact needed here in East Broward. Take a look at the prices. Generally, the “price of entry” into any of these communities, if you want to have a single family home or equivalent, is very high. Rare is the case where something suitable could be found for under $300,000 any more.

Does that mean that notions of community in East Broward are restricted to individuals with six figure incomes or substantial assets? Qualifying for a mortgage on a $300,000 home would require a significant down payment, a healthy steady income, or both. Perhaps this is why we often see buyers here who are coming from other markets, other parts of the world, and paying cash. Buyers are not always local.

What are the longer term implications of this as we work to build community here in South Florida? How can Realtor leaders be part of driving that process?

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