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Tallahassee May See Surplus Student Rentals Offered for Sale

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A Tallahassee real estate expert is predicting some big changes on the way to the local home buying market. That assessment comes as the community sees an explosion in high-end rental construction.

The local expert is Joe Manausa. He has more than a quarter-century of experience in the business so many people love to hate.

“Chase Bank did a survey 4 or 5 years ago and found that 80 percent of homebuyers within a year wish they had known more about the home-buying process and basically wished they’d bought another home.”

The main reason they’d bought the wrong house, Manausa said, is that the sale was driven by the real estate agent’s desire for the highest possible commission, rather than the real needs of the buyers. So 4 years ago, Manausa came up with a new model for selling real estate.

“And we hire employees to come in and work our model," he said. "We don’t hire independent contractors, we pay salaries and benefits and give them a company car.”

The model seems to be working. Manausa said his business has grown from 5 to 25 employees in just four years.

“We think we can be 60 to 65 in Tallahassee by the time we’re built out.”

Helping drive that growth in the immediate time frame, he says, is that Tallahassee is far removed from the real estate collapse of 2008 when no one was buying homes.

“We’re in an opposite market right now. For many areas and a lot of price ranges, there’s not enough supply of homes. There are literally more buyers than sellers out there.”

The exception, he remarked, are high-end houses $300,000 and up, of which there are a bunch for sale right now. But across the board, the urge to buy is driven by mortgage rates that remain half of what Manausa explained is their historical average. Certainly new home construction will eventually meet the demand for more down-market properties. However, Manausa saw another potential source of inventory for home buyers.

“We absolutely pay attention to the rental market because it will have an impact on the for-sale market. When a landlord can’t rent his place out because they built 4,800 new units down Tennessee and Gaines streets, then they absolutely put those units on the market for sale. That becomes new supply that wasn’t in the for-sale market, but it was in the for-rent market.”

Put all of these factors together, and Joe Manausa had one bit of advice for those wondering whether or not this is a good time to buy a house anywhere near Tallahassee.

“If you’ve been thinking about moving up, do it now. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, buying a Winnebago and traveling the country, wait!”

Because he believed a major windfall is on the way for Capital City homeowners.

“The supply is so limited, the demand is so high, barring something like the new governor saying we’re moving the state capital to Orlando, anything major like that, we’re going to see anywhere from 6 to 10 percent appreciation rates each year.”

That’s pretty impressive for a residential housing market that has taken a full decade to recover from the real estate downturn.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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