Buying a home in South Florida is easier now than in recent years — sort of. To aide you in your search, we updated our interactive tool that enables you to search for ZIP Codes where median home values match your budget, then easily review school ratings and safety statistics.
Still, the data doesn’t match the on-the-ground reality in every case, and that means attractive pockets can get lost. We’ve highlighted seven lesser-known neighborhoods in our "How to Buy a Home" guide that appeal to different types of buyers. Here is one of them:
Known for its strong public and Catholic schools, West Miami’s Westchester neighborhood has the highest percentage of Cuban Americans in the United States at 65 percent, according to the 2010 census. It’s home to many young families and married couples.
The heart of Westchester’s downtown and commercial district runs along Southwest 87th Avenue and historic Coral Way, marking the center of the four-square-mile community, while the social and civic center is just south of the perimeter at Tropical Park.
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“Westchester is close to the Palmetto, creating the perfect urban-suburban balance, and keeps the community in demand,” says Realtor George Jalil of First Service Realty who is also chairman-elect of Miami Association of Realtors. “It’s very under the radar and it’s a good deal.”
Most of the community’s single-family homes are found along “finger neighborhoods” shaded by neatly landscaped palms, gumbo limbo and banyan trees with average lot sizes of about 7,500 square-feet. The majority are concrete block, ranch style homes built in the 1940s and ’50s with three bedrooms and two baths.
Sissy Esquivel, 45, a software developer, and her husband Jorge Menendez, 49, an air-conditioning technician, bought their 1,100-square-foot home in Westchester for $285,000 in August 2016 after living in another part of West Miami. It was the neighborhood’s central location to the expressway and the home’s 12,086-square-foot corner lot that particularly attracted Menendez to the home.
“The house needed — and still needs — a lot of repairs because it was very outdated,” Esquivel says. “But we’re putting our own taste into it. In this case, we’re choosing our colors and choosing our tiles and everything we want, that’s the advantage of it.”
Jalil’s market analysis shows median sales prices in Westchester at $340,000. Home values in Westchester have also risen by 7.1 percent in the past 12 months.
“The next two years are optimal for homebuyers,” Jalil says. “All of the economists and the National Association of Realtors are forecasting modest increases in sales prices in 2017 and 2018 at a rate of about 1 percent per month. They’re also predicting that 2019 could be the beginning of a recession.”
In Jalil’s analysis, Westchester is currently a balanced market, tipping slightly toward sellers, due to a slight inventory shortage. In the past 12 months, homes sold at a rate of about 15 per month.
Also in the ZIP code — and closer to Coral Gables — is Schenley Park, near Miami Children’s Hospital. The section east of 72nd Avenue, on either side of Blue Road (Southwest 48th Street) are midcentury modern homes, many of them refurbished in recent years. Overall values in the 33155 ZIP code have risen 10.4 percent in the past year, to a median value of $360,000.
Location: Between Bird Road (Southwest 40th Street) and Tamiami Trail, and east of the Palmetto Parkway to SW 97th Avenue
ZIP code: 33155
Best for: Families, couples
Median value: $340,000
Value increase: 7.1 percent
School Ratings: Very Good