It’s only fitting that Realtor Liliana “Lili” Tufel is selling homes in the suburban area where she grew up, attended school, got married and is now raising a family – the Country Club and Palm Springs North areas of northwest Miami-Dade County. “This is my home.”
The Coldwell Banker agent believes that the neighborhoods, in an unincorporated section tucked between Miami Lakes and the Broward County line, offer families and first-time home buyers a lot of options priced well under $400,000. What’s more, they’re located in leafy, amenity-laden gated developments such as The Moors and Lakes on the Green or the retro-cool Palm Springs North section of 1960s old-Florida style concrete abodes. The 33015, where the median age is 33 and nearly two-thirds of the households have children, is also rich in retail, restaurants and parks, boasts good elementary schools such as Palm Springs North and Spanish Lakes, is convenient to the Palmetto and I-75 and draws professionals working in both counties. “Everything a family could want, it’s here,” Tufel said. “A lot of people are buying for the schools.”
A lot of people are buying for the schools
Liliana Tufel, real estate agent
The heavily Hispanic area, whose population has grown by nearly 30 percent since 2000, has also grown more diverse, and roads have been widened to accommodate increased traffic. Yet the biggest change may be yet to come: If built as planned in four years, the mammoth American Dream Miami mall and theme park – slated to be the country’s largest – will be its neighbor. Whether the welcome mat is out is in the eye of the beholder.
Barbara Fernández, who has lived in a 2,200-square-foot home on a quiet street in the Lakes on the Green community for four years, sees the pros and cons of the mall but believes her home will increase in value. She loves the tranquility, security and central location next to I-75, visible from her property. On the other side of the highway will be the mall.
Her husband recently wanted to sell and buy a larger home for their family of four but she talked him out of it, Fernandez said in Spanish. “I even celebrated when my husband said we could stay.” Now they are adding a terrace.
Tufel says other homeowners thinking of selling are holding off, believing their properties will rise in value because of the mall. Others are worried about traffic in an already challenged area and what the potential of increased rentals could do to their home values. (A number of existing condo conversions have brought down median prices).
Lakes on the Green and The Moors both offer move-in-ready single-family homes built in the 1980s and 1990s, some with pools, starting in the low $300s. Last week, Tufel showed a home in the Lakes listed at $315,000 with three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a backyard pergola, hot tub and a converted garage (quite common in these neighborhoods). For $325,000 in the Moors, a similarly sized home also had a loft and an updated kitchen that would make HGTV proud. Both communities offer security, community areas and lake views, while The Moors also has pools, tennis courts and gyms. Both gated communities come with monthly homeowners fees, ranging from about $140 to $180. The Moors features a mix of single-family homes, townhouses, condos and apartments, and smaller residences needing renovation can be found in the low $200s or less.
But if a gated community doesn’t appeal to a home buyer or they embrace renovation, there are deals to be found in Palm Springs North, or PSN as the locals call it, an area Tufel calls “a hidden gem.”
The neighborhood’s fans have their own active Facebook page, and many of PSN’s compact concrete homes with tidy yards have been in families since they were built more than 50 years ago, Tufel said. It’s a pocket of affordability too, located literally across the canal from Miami Lakes, where homes run two or three times as much.
Tufel showed a foreclosure listed at $260,000, a gut job for someone with vision (the front room contained the remnants of a “home hair salon.”) Homes in better condition sell in the mid- to high $300s, and sometimes more if they have been expanded and renovated. The neighborhood includes a park and a lake where people can use motorboats and Jet Skis.
All the areas offer a mix of chain and local shops, including Sedanos, Carrabbas, Latin American Restaurant, banks, a banquet hall, local barber shop and the big four – Target, Walmart, BJs and Costco. There used to be a centrally located Starbucks, but it seems the clientele preferred Sedano’s cafecitos. Restaurants in Miami Lakes and Pembroke Pines are minutes away.
While these communities developed in an era where people were moving to the suburbs, since 2000 there has been a resurgence in close-in, urban areas. But the Country Club area has held up well, residents say, and now may be the beneficiary of a new trend: Young people being priced out of neighborhoods east of I-95.
That may be the case for Christine Perez, a first-time home buyer who was touring the Moors neighborhood on a recent afternoon. She rents in Miami Shores and ideally would like to stay east and closer to downtown Miami. But she was surprised by how much farther her money would go in Country Club. She’s still on the fence, but she liked a home she saw and noted that her dog would love the attractive walking area behind the home.
Background: A leafy, amenity-laden area with restaurants, retail and the potential of the American Dream Miami mall on the horizon, Country Club offers good value to buyers. Many are being priced out of neighborhoods east of Interstate 95 and are turning to this section of unincorporated Miami-Dade for relief. Schools have good ratings from the Florida Department of Education and crime is low.
Median single-family home values: $278,200 in June, up 11 percent since June 2014.
Median condo/townhome values: $139,200 in June, up 9 percent since June 2014.