Diana and Santos Izaguirre’s search for a single-family house in West Kendall is a tale of missed opportunities and almost-had-it deals. For well over a year, they have lost out to cash buyers or buyers who have pounced on a house before the couple could put in their own bid. Even their back-up contracts haven’t resulted in a sale.
“It’s very frustrating because we’ve done everything right,” said Izaguirre, who is looking for a three-bedroom, two-bath home with a pool for her three children. “We’re starting to look at the new construction now in hopes we can find something.”
The Izaguirres’ plight is hardly unusual. West Kendall real estate is hot, with no sign of slowing. Their agent, Peter Gonzalez, notes that appropriately priced houses, townhomes and condos in West Kendall can sell within days of going on the market. “This is definitely a seller’s market,” said Gonzalez, Kendall office district manager of Real Living First Service Realty. “We’re the last place [in Miami ] where you can find a nice house for a good price.”
Prices range from the $450,000 to the mid-$500,000s for the larger houses to an average of $150,000 for a newer two-bedroom apartment.
Longtime West Kendallites — including Gonzalez, who has lived there since 1975 — define West Kendall as the wide swath from the Florida Turnpike/ Southwest 117th Avenue on the east to Krome Avenue (or 177th Avenue) on the west, and from Miller Drive (56th Street) on the north to Coral Reef Drive on the south.
It’s an area that offers a variety of home sizes and prices, from condominiums to townhouses to large four- and five-bedroom homes. Accordingly, prices range from $450,000 and the mid $500,000s for larger houses to an average of $150,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, Gonzalez said.
New construction remains popular. Homebuilders including Lennar push ever westward toward Krome, gobbling up what use to be agricultural land. The Kendall Square Townhomes development, for example, rises just off Kendall Drive on 169th Avenue; units there are priced from $295, 990 to $355,990. Its most expensive model boasts an amenity that would likely appeal to the multi-generational Hispanic family: the Next Gen suite, featuring a separate suite with its own bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen.
On Sunset Drive at 163 Court, Legacy Homebuilders offers two-story, four- and five-bedroom homes. Pre-construction prices for most models run around the mid-$500,000s.
Gonzalez said most of the buyers interested in West Kendall are families like the Izaguirres, who are drawn by good schools, parks and accessible and varied retail offerings. “We’re like our own city,” he said. “You can find everything here.”
Indeed, while Kendall Drive is the unofficial main street and home to such big box retailers as BJ’s and Walmart, strip malls and fast-food eateries are spread along other streets, too. The area now has its own hospital, West Kendall Baptist, at Southwest 162 Avenue and 96 Street.
Victor Gonzalez, a 25-year-old Miami Dade College student, opened a GNC franchise in a shopping center on Kendall and 167th Avenue about 10 months ago. Just across the street is a u-pick-’em field, but that hasn’t tempered his enthusiasm.
“This area is really growing. Right now they’re developing a huge neighborhood nearby (Kendall Square Townhomes) and when that’s complete, the foot traffic is going to go up and up.”
He and his parents moved to a rental house in West Kendall from Westchester recently, but the family hopes to buy its own home soon. They like the area because much of the construction is new, or relatively so, and the spacious houses. “Within the next five years, this is going to be very, very populated,” he said.
The population explosion, however, has come at a price. Roads are congested and traffic is often snarled, both during rush hour and on weekends. A commute downtown, residents estimated, could take at least 90 minutes.
Because it is a neighborhood in transition, some parts of West Kendall remain relatively rural. For example, stables still dot the neighborhood popularly known as Horse Country between Miller Drive and Sunset Drive. Gonzalez says he often sees riders exercising the animals along 120th Avenue on his way to work. But Sunset Drive also has given way to more development, namely private schools and churches. Plant nurseries line the street.
Michael Rosenberg, president of the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations, has lived in West Kendall for about 35 years. As a newlywed, he bought a two-bedroom townhouse for $37,000, “when there wasn’t much of anything here.” Three years later, in 1980, he sold it for $77,000. His current home, where he has lived for 11 years, abuts a nature preserve that was once a golf course. He sees prices rising steadily.
“I remember Town and Country Mall (on Kendall Drive, off the Florida Turnpike) when you went there to pick tomatoes,” he said. “There were fields and fields heading west. Now there’s a Walgreens and a CVS in every corner.”
Background: West Kendall, once an agricultural area, is quickly losing its rural feel as strip malls and suburban developments move in. It stretches from the Florida Turnpike on the east to Krome Avenue on the west, and from Miller Drive on the north to Coral Reef Drive on the south. The massive area covers many ZIP codes, including 33185, 33183, 33186, 33193, 33196, 33173, 33175 and 33176. Crime statistics and Florida Department of Education school ratings are favorable, but commutes to downtown Miami can be long.
Median single-family home values: Median single-family home values for ZIP codes in West Kendall range from the high $200,000s to the low $400,000s. The neighborhoods known as the Hammocks and the Crossings have the highest rates of growth at about 8 percent, on par with the county-wide average.
Median condo/townhome values: Median condo and townhome values for the West Kendall area start at about $130,000. New construction can be much more expensive.