The real estate market is directly influenced by a wide number of factors, some more obvious, some more covert. The state of the economy, vacancy rates, supply and demand, local policies, weather conditions, major employers in the area, parking spaces, property names, former owners/tenants—all these can affect the value of a property.
We wanted to better capture the dynamics of the real estate scene in the U.S., so we embarked on a quest to discover what defines the market. To accomplish our mission, we launched our Expert Insights series, in which we conduct a series of Q&As with real estate professionals from different U.S. states regarding the challenges, the strengths, and the particularities of the markets they’re active in.
Is Tallahassee’s Real Estate Market Strength a Weakness, Too?
For our first interview in the series, we sat down with Joe Manausa, founder of Joe Manausa Real Estate, one of the leading Tallahassee, Fla., agencies. Using a consumer-centered Internet marketing system, the brokerage operation provides both seller and buyer representation services. Manausa, a former U.S. Army Officer, is a realtor with 27 years of experience on the Tallahassee real estate market. He first ventured into real estate in 1991, and since then got to know all this field’s secrets, from the way market conditions and government regulations affect the industry to the best ways to close a quick sale.
We reached out to Manausa to discover what attracted him to this highly competitive field, which are the traits of a successful broker, which are the characteristics of the Tallahassee real estate scene, and where this market is headed. Read on to discover his insights.
Q: How did you end up working in this field and what drew you to it?
A: When I was getting out of the Army in 1991, I hoped to find two things: a job in sales and a chance to be located close to or in my hometown of Tallahassee, Fla. I attended several job fairs for Junior Military Officers (JMOs) and interviewed with numerous Fortune 500 companies that all had sales employment opportunities with locations throughout the Southeast, but nothing in Tallahassee. On a whim, I went to Tallahassee and met with the sales manager of a large development company, and he offered me a job in Tallahassee. It paid far less and had no benefits, but it got me where I wanted to be (and a job in sales to boot).
Q: What does it take to be a successful broker in this highly competitive market?
A: You must have a very strong vision of what you want to accomplish and the willingness to follow that vision. Most real estate companies are no better than a collection of independent contractors who could leave at any time, and I guess that is fine if that is what you want. But things change. Major market changes oftentimes knock independent contractors out of the business, devaluing or even extinguishing a brokerage. My belief is that building a brokerage should be part of your overall financial plan, and it should have a saleable value when you no longer want to broker real estate. Thus, a successful broker should have systems and processes designed for the long run, not living or dying with the performance of contractors.
Q: Describe your most challenging project so far. How did you deal with it?
A: I listed “the most expensive home in Tallahassee,” and did so at the bottom of the market. It was actually an estate, with three homes on 80 acres in the highest-demand area of the Tallahassee real estate market. Unfortunately, the owners had a friend in the appraisal business who had told them their property was worth three times what the market would bear. I listed the property and then did an extensive non-local marketing plan and found a buyer from overseas. It took more than a year to get the property marketed and sold.
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the strengths of the Tallahassee real estate market, and what are the challenges? How do you deal with them?
A: The strength of the Tallahassee real estate market is that our government employment base is relatively steady, so we won’t likely face a time when demand completely collapses (as an example, Houston in the 1980s due to the oil industry). Of course, that strength is also the biggest challenge in trying to grow. There is not enough private sector employment yet to generate a faster rate of growth, so we have to pay very close attention to supply and demand dynamics, as we are not a fast-recovering market.
Q: Where do you think the Tallahassee real estate market is heading in 2018? Are there any major/exciting developments scheduled for delivery this year?
A: The market is strengthening right now in Tallahassee. As a lagging economy, you can almost predict what will happen here by looking around the state (and then waiting a year or two). The real estate recession hit Tallahassee hard, as it was also accompanied by “right-sizing” the Florida government. Many state jobs were lost over the past eight years, and I believe it was for the better of the state. Our government is more efficient. But that does not mean it was good for the city, so when you combined the real estate market bubble and collapse with additional job loss, Tallahassee took it on the chin.
The most exciting development in Tallahassee is going to happen with the new election. Odds are pretty good that the next governor will not be as fiscally sound as the current one, and that typically means more jobs for this region. This will have a stimulus effect on all sectors of the Tallahassee real estate market.