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The recent rapid increase in housing costs — whether to buy or rent — has stressed many current and prospective Wilton Manors residents.

As a result, living in the Island City is no longer an affordable option for many who work here or wish to relocate.

Chart 1 shows median (half of the sales above, and half below) prices for purchase of a single-family home, townhome, and condo, in Wilton Manors in the fourth quarter of each of the last four years. Also included are median rents for one- and two-bedroom apartments (all data from MLS).


Chart 1.

Rents were relatively stable from 2018 through 2020, but have recently jumped significantly — 24% in one year for a one-bedroom apartment, and 59% for a two-bedroom.

The increase in the prices of homes, townhomes and condos may not be as surprising, as it has been noted amply here and elsewhere. Compared with just two years ago, the price of the median single-family home has increased by 31%. The median townhome is up 42%, and the median condo has had a 39% increase in price.  

A household is considered “housing stressed” if their cost of housing exceeds 30% of gross income, and “extremely housing stressed” at a housing cost more than 50% of income. Since the median one-bedroom apartment in Wilton Manors rents for $1,550/month, a renter of that unit would be housing stressed with a household income less than $62,000 per year, and extremely stressed at an annual income less than $37,200. 

The situation is magnified when looking at two-bedroom rentals in the Island City. With the median rent being $2,550/month, that household would be stressed at an annual income less than $102,000, and extremely stressed at an income less than $61,200 per year. 

Hard information on recent buyer demographics is difficult to come by. But to purchase the median condo, townhome, or single-family home in Wilton Manors, assuming a 20% down payment and allowances for property taxes and insurances, would generally require the buyer(s) to have an annual income of at least $60,000, $120,000, and $170,000, respectively. 

While it is likely that many purchases are being made for cash or with higher-than-standard down payments, the US Census reports that the median household in Broward County has an annual income of about $60,000. 

“Rapidly rising home costs are certainly impacting affordability for residents throughout South Florida,” according to Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli, who noted that the state and county have programs to assist with affordable housing. He added, “Wilton Manors is one of the few cities that has its own affordable housing impact fee. Funds from that have recently supported the construction of low-cost rental units and several grants for first-time, low-income home buyers.” 

The fact remains, however, that with the run-up in prices in the last several years (and this past year in particular), many people can no longer afford to live in Wilton Manors. Although no one has a divinely ordained right to live in the Island City, the reality is that many people work in Wilton, and increasingly city businesses have workers who are housing stressed (or unable to live near their work) providing goods and services to well-heeled vacationers and a local moneyed elite. This is also the case with destinations like Palm Springs, Rehoboth, and Provincetown. Wilton Manors is now part of that mainstream.

James Oaksun, Florida's Real Estate Geek (SM), is Broker-Owner of New Realty Concepts in Fort Lauderdale. In addition to having degrees from Dartmouth and Cornell, he is a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI).


Real Estate: A Word (or Two) About Wilton