AMELIA ISLAND — There continues to be an anemic housing stock in the capital city.
An ideal market has a five-month supply of homes that can be sold, and Tallahassee’s supply is half that, Realtor Tiffany Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Realty, told attendees of the annual Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference in a breakout session Saturday.
From 2022 compared to 2023, closed sales dropped to 272, representing an 18% drop. Paid-in-cash deals went from 84 to 69 in the same time frame.
“So we went from more people taking the money out of the stock market and putting it into real estate because it was safe investment,” Hamilton said. “But why was it considered a safe investment? We had lower interest rates that were driving that. We had … houses that had so much equity that it was a no brainer to purchase, but that’s starting to decline but why? Because values of homes have gone up.”
The average home price in Tallahassee’s market is now $400,000.
Breakout sessions at this year’s conference covered a range of topics that affect every resident and their quality of life.
On Saturday, six sessions allowed attendees to dive deep into vital sectors of Tallahassee’s economy.
Those sessions included skills-based hiring, understanding real estate trends in Tallahassee’s market, investing in research generated at Florida State and Florida A&M university and developments surrounding Tallahassee’s airport, land use and magnetic ecosystem.
Here’s some highlights.
The gulf between luxury and starter homes
Hettie Spooner, broker and owner of Hill Spooner & Elliott, showed visuals of what a starter home looks like and sells for in Tallahassee’s market. One recent sale was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home on a half acre lot in northeast Tallahassee that was listed for $314,900. It sold in three or four days with multiple offers ultimately over $330,000.
“Your first time homebuyer is going to spend $2,600 to $2,800 a month on this. Not to say this isn’t an acceptable, lovely home, but that’s an expensive payment for the first-time homebuyer,” Spooner said.
According to panelists, the average annual household income in Leon County is $85,865 while the median household income sits at $59,088 per year. Residents aged 25 to 44 earn $61,596, while those between 45 and 64 years old have a median wage of $68,226. In contrast, people younger than 25 and those older than 65 earn less, at $30,894 and $59,392, respectively.
In the luxury real estate market, the price point is $700,000 and up. Spooner said 87 luxury market homes have sold so far this year in Leon County.
“Even with rising interest rates, the buyers are still there,” she said, adding there’s been an increase in out-of-state buyers from states like New York, New Jersey and California.
Tallahassee International Airport continues to take off
The $28-million International Processing Facility, arguably one of the most vital projects in the airport’s recent history, is on track to be complete by the third quarter of 2024.
In a few years, residents may be able to book non-stop flights overseas, including charter, business or general aviation flights. Some could include flights to the Caribbean, Central and South America and Canada.
In addition, the airport plans to submit its application to be designated as a Foreign Trade Zone, which allows it to take advantage of special customs procedures that entice companies to set up shop within the zone.
Companies operating in such zones can tap into tax exemptions for international inventory and savings or elimination of U.S. Customs duties, tariffs and taxes. That can save companies millions of dollars and reduce delivery to market.
Airport officials and the business community will be asked to provide letters of support for the process. The application is slated to be submitted this year.
“We’re also moving rapidly and we’ll need your help as we continue forward to establish a new Foreign Trade Zone, all combined for a total economic impact of over $300 billion dollars annually, and 1,600 plus jobs,” said David Pollard, aviation director at Tallahassee’s airport.
How businesses can help with rising healthcare costs
Top leadership at HCA Florida Capital Hospital, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Guidewell, a mutual insurance holding company primarily focused on health insurance in Florida, stressed the need to make high quality healthcare more affordable and accessible, adding that the business community can play a vital role.
In a Q&A session, they all agreed affordability for both businesses and individuals was one of the biggest issues impacting healthcare in Tallahassee.
TMH President and CEO Mark O’Bryant defined the current environment as a “reset” stage in relations to a pre- and post-pandemic world. He said the costs of labor, care and drugs are seeing double digit growth and climbing while the payment structures are only seeing 6% growth.
But this is an opportunity instead of a challenge, he said, adding it forces an evaluation of how everything is done. It’s also led to refocusing on preventative care.
When panelists were asked how can businesses help reduce healthcare costs, here’s what they said.
- Mark O’Bryant of TMH: Establish more opportunities to grow and encourage growth in the business community. Have prevention and wellness programs within your business and encourage employees to participate.
- Chris Mosley, CEO at HCA Florida Capital Hospital: Start with taking care of your own health and encourage employees to do the same. Establish a primary care doctor if you haven’t because they are your navigators through healthcare. Partner with organizations who do the work or help fund the work in healthcare.
- Seth Van Essendelft, senior vice president for corporate development and strategic investments at Guidewell: Lean into your employees and listen to the employee benefits your employees want, and then partner with your providers to build those programs that make sense for your team.
Democrat Advertising Director Cari Thro contributed to this report. Contact Reporter TaMaryn Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.