South Florida Apartment Demand, Rents to Grow After Hurricane Ian

Florida Atlantic University processor Ken Johnson and Brown Harris Stevens' Sheila Rojas (Florida Atlantic University, Brown Harris Stevens, Getty)

Florida Atlantic University processor Ken Johnson and Brown Harris Stevens’ Sheila Rojas (Florida Atlantic University, Brown Harris Stevens, Getty)

South Floridians had begun to see a slowdown in record apartment rent hikes. Now Hurricane Ian could change that.

After the deadly Category 4 storm pummeled much of southwest Florida, some seasonal residents are expected to opt out of the Gulf Coast and make a beeline for South Florida, the Miami Herald reported.

“We can expect some temporary relocation. Renters will be coming to this side of the state this year,” Ken Johnson, a Florida Atlantic University professor and economist, told the publication. “It won’t work well for our rental market.”

Ian, which made landfall near Cayo Costa on Sept. 28 with 155 mile-per-hour winds, is the deadliest Florida natural disaster since 1935, causing more than 120 fatalities.

Losses for insured property could range from $25 billion to $40 billion, according to Fitch Ratings. Yet, CNN reported that many people with properties in Ian’s path won’t be covered, as they didn’t have flood insurance. (Homeowners’ policies usually don’t cover flood damage.)

It could take months for the cleanup in southwest Florida to be completed, and even years for the region to fully rebound.

South Florida has been experiencing a slowdown in rent hikes, a welcome respite after the area led the nation with a 58 percent increase during the first two years of the pandemic.

In August rents rose 16.7 percent, year-over-year, according to Realtor.com. That was less than the 26 percent year-over-year hike in July.

Now, brokers are seeing demand from snowbirds who would have otherwise gone to southwest Florida. Brown Harris Stevens’ Sheila Rojas is handling requests from New Yorkers and Chicagoans with monthly rental budgets from $15,000 to $35,000 for properties in Boca Raton, South Beach and Bal Harbour, she told the Herald.

Johnson, the FAU professor, said that demand rerouted to South Florida won’t have an effect on the for-sale market. Buyers who had hoped for a house on the Gulf Coast will just wait a season, he said.

“Hurricanes,” he said, “don’t change long-term decisions.”

— Lidia Dinkova

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