When the St. Joe Company decided to start its Southwood Development in Tallahassee, the company issued statements (press releases) that included various numbers of reasons why it felt Tallahassee would enjoy growth and prosperity in the future. Most importantly, it outlined the target market for people who would buy a home in Southwood.
One particular segment of this announced target market really caught my attention. The segment was "FSU Graduates wanting to retire and return to Tallahassee." And not just retirees, but people who had spent their college years in Tallahassee and would love to live here permanently. My thinking at the time was that it was a very insightful, very clever goal that could really help Tallahassee grow.
My thinking on this has not changed. In fact, just yesterday, I received a message from a friend who fits right into this category, as he and his wife graduated from FSU in the 1980's. "PJP" wrote me saying
Your website is really looking good. The new search features are great. If prices came down another 25% and I could find gainful employment, I'd bring the family back to TLH.
While I would love to see he and his family return to Tallahassee, I am not so sure that I would like to see our home prices in Tallahassee drop "another 25%." Currently, Tallahassee home prices have not dropped 25% across the board and nobody wants to see the chaos that would ensue with that kind of value depreciation.
"PJP" went on to say
This may be outside the scope of your column, (which I enjoy reading everyday), but it seems to me that the TLH market is really limited by the job situation there.
ie- No big companies, no regular housing stock turnover except for maybe students, stagnant wages for public employees, and a private industry wage base (except for a very few) that will not foster turnover or support current price levels, even with 2 incomes. Plus, if Tallahassee's percentage of "under water" owners is anything like the rest of the country, that has to be hurting turnover as well.
I fear that your market is in for a very slow recovery. Maybe that will make it easier for me to retire there someday.
These are concerns that that I too share. We do have a similar percentage of "under water" owners in Tallahassee. In fact, we often discuss the "shadow inventory" here at the Tallahassee Real Estate Blog. It will have a very strong influence on real estate prices in Tallahassee over the next three to five years.
But the bigger issue concerns employment. What are our elected leaders doing to help us secure more business in the Tallahassee area? We need to get our unemployment rate back down to the 5% level that we historically enjoy.
The news lately about the Tallahassee City Commission focused on the Commissioners giving themselves raises, but I'm hoping we'll see something more along the lines of leadership and community improvement. Wouldn't it be nice to see an initiative for growth in the Tallahassee business sector?
If we could see even a small push for business expansion, maybe more FSU grads like "PJP" could come back to Tallahassee.
Joe Manausa, MBA is a 26 year veteran of real estate brokerage in Tallahassee, Florida and has owned and managed his own company since 1992. He is a daily blogger with content that focuses on real estate analytics and providing his clients with a tactical advantage in today's challenging market.