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An Inside Look at Florida’s Rental Property Market

We caught up with John Michailidis, owner of Real Property Management Sarasota & Manatee, as a guest on the podcast, Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show with host Jon Forisha.

In this episode, John shares how he got into property management and what he loves about the Florida rental market. Read an excerpt from the interview below! 

Thank you for joining me, John! So you’ve been working in real estate for 30 years—what initially attracted you to the industry?

Michailidis: I’m going to into weeds for a second. Anyone who knows what a DiSC test is, I’m a high “D,” high “I,” which means I am basically unemployable. I must work for myself; you can do that in real estate!

Forisha: In addition to your real estate experience, you’re a licensed attorney, educator, and author. Have you seen any of that experience play into your real estate life?

Michailidis: Well certainly, because real estate in many ways, as we know, is a legal profession. We’re not “lawyers,” per se, but more so retail. For example, who’s dealing with the kind of documentation we deal with in the real estate industry. Who’s dealing with the kind of high responsibility for people’s wealth, people’s home, life-savings—so clearly, we are legal, steeped in the law as an industry. 

Forisha: Tell me about the transition you made from residential sales to property management.

Michailidis: During the boom in the early 2000’s, I was flying high, making a lot of money—then the crash happened, and my business completely evaporated. I went from a few hundred thousand dollars a year, to moving into my mom’s third bedroom [in Florida] with a thousand dollars in my pocket.

I started again. From mom’s third bedroom, I started flipping short sales, helping people to avoid foreclosure and getting them to get a release of liability for the balance owed. I did this for a few years, did well, made money, and was back on track.

I realized that all of these properties that are foreclosed aren’t going to be torn down: people are going to move into them, but they’re not going to be buying them—they’re going to be renting. So I thought: property management! I stumbled on Real Property Management, Inc., the world’s largest property management company. Property management is the best business in the world.

In the property management business, you’re creating annuity contracts for your firm. Money is coming in on a monthly basis—that’s job security. In real estate, I’d basically start my business over every month. I’d sell listings then I’d have to find more listings. If you do a good job, these owners are never going to leave you. 

Forisha: How have you seen the Florida market change?

Michailidis: Our market is booming. My company is Real Property Management of Sarasota and Manatee: you can’t drive far without seeing new apartment complexes and condos. We’re the Gulf Coast of Florida, a very desirable place for people all over the country and the world. One difference now is that people actually have to qualify for a mortgage: that was not the case in the early 2000’s. Markets are cooling, but I don’t see a crash coming.

Three or four years ago, a tenant would end a lease and move out, we’d raise the rent a hundred bucks, and someone else would be in there in two weeks. You couldn’t keep a place vacant, and the rents kept rising! Well, you can only raise the rent so much: we made a point over the last two years where that “raising the rents” instantly when someone moves out isn’t necessarily the case.

Because we have automatic rent bumps in every renewal, someone who’s been there three, four, five years—we might even lower the rent a little bit when someone moves out. There is a slowing down of the market there. What used to be a two-week is now maybe a four to a six-week rental period—but that’s still really good!

Forisha: When you first decided to start into residential property management, how did you begin?

Michailidis: I bought a franchise: I had real estate experience, so I just had to shift that into the property management space. The training I received as part of the franchise was very helpful, I can’t talk more highly of my franchise or Real Property Management, Inc.

Forisha: My last question is one I ask of all of my guests; if you could back to the beginning of your career, what is one thing you would have done differently?

Michailidis: The first thing that came to mind was starting property management earlier. But that said, everything I’ve ever done, everything I’ve ever learned—I don’t think I’d change anything.

Listen to the full episode with John Michailidis on Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show!

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