Housing market intact

Tallahassee’s real estate market has been minimally affected by the severe downturn the country’s housing market has faced this year.

“It’s a lot more stable,” said Steven Louchheim, executive director of the Tallahassee Board of Realtors.

Since Tallahassee is the state’s capital, local residents working for the state have been able to maintain their jobs during this low period, he said.

However, this does not mean the city has remained completely unaffected by the struggling economy. 

“It is harder to get loans and get money,” Louchhiem said.  “People uncertain about the economy don’t want to make a major purchase like buying a house.”

The local houses in highest demand range from $125,000 to $175,000 the Tallahassee native said. 

“It’s a great time to buy.  Sellers want to sell.  It’s a good time if you have the resources,” Louchhiem said.

Susan McQuary, a local real estate agent for Arbor Realty,

“Our office concentrates on residential resale. Where many offices are down 20 or 30 percent, our office is down less because we do resale in the northeast of Tallahassee,” McQuary said.

McQuary said that the houses in the highest demand are those that qualify for Federal Housing Administration loans.  The FHA Web site said the agency insures private loans for new and existing houses and also loans for home repairs.

“People who can’t qualify for most loans, can qualify for FHA loans,” McQuary said.  “[Someone] can borrow 97 percent value of the home with FHA, while other loans need around 10 percent down.”

The loan is still difficult to attain.  “It is harder to get funds for people who have less than perfect credit,” McQuary said.  “Foreclosures nationwide affect our market because lenders are less likely to loan money.”

Erwin Jackson, owner of Jackson Properties, rents houses and apartments to college students.  The country’s economic problems have affected his business.

“Everything was being over-built, especially student housing, creating the surplus that we have now,” Jackson said.

“Florida State’s budget cuts make it worse,” he added.  “Because [the school has] less money, they admit less and less students each year.  Therefore there are less students looking for housing around campus.

As a result Jackson said between 10 and 15 student housing communities have closed this year.

 Louchhiem, McQuary and Jackson advise college students to build credit and save money before the purchase of a new home.

Betsy Henderson, owner of Innovation Realty, said the local housing market avoided the country’s economic problems.  

“It’s not affecting us here in Tallahassee as much as it is in areas around the state.”  She added areas like Miami had issues with speculative building. Companies built too many condos when there were not enough buyers. As a result, the area’s housing market suffered. 

There has also been some speculative building in Tallahassee. 

“We did have some higher end speculative building in downtown with condos like those in Klamen Plaza,” Henderson said. Henderson said the stable housing market in Tallahassee usually uses strategies to avoid a surplus in houses. “They may build two or three products and then as they sell, build more,” she said.. Overall Tallahassee has a stable market Henderson said.