Even Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been hit by soaring housing prices caused by the pandemic

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  • Photo by Elise Elder / Fresh Take Florida

Count Governor Ron DeSantis among the owners with the seller’s regret? The waterfront home near Jacksonville that DeSantis owned for nearly a decade until it was sold after moving into the Florida governor’s mansion has been valued about 50% since the deal .

This means that DeSantis effectively lost $ 232,000 selling it just a year before the pandemic caused housing prices to spike in the United States. In an interview, the new owners of the house in Ponte Vedra Beach said they were enjoying their good fortune – and didn’t even know they were buying the governor’s house until months after the deal was struck.

DeSantis, 43, lives with his wife and children in the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and currently does not own any property, according to government financial disclosure documents he submitted a few months ago. He estimated his net worth at $ 348,832, of which about $ 164,000 he and his wife took advantage of when they sold the house for $ 460,000. It is now worth around $ 692,000.

The governor apparently put the proceeds from the sale of this house in a conservative financial account with the USAA which has risen in value from $ 205,000 to $ 235,000 over the past year, an increase of about 14%, according to records. That’s less than half of what the S&P 500 earned over the same period.

The governor could have used the money: he is hardly rich by the standards of politicians of such national importance. He still owes over $ 22,000 in student loans from his years at Yale, where he graduated in 2001, and Harvard, where he graduated in 2005.

In contrast, former Governor Rick Scott estimated his fortune to be at least $ 255 million when he became a United States Senator. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., A Democratic primary candidate to challenge DeSantis for re-election, is worth at least $ 1.5 million, according to financial reports he filed in August. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who was running against Crist to take on DeSantis in November, estimated her net worth at $ 970,244.

No one thinks that DeSantis’ top-earning years are not ahead of him: after leaving office, big politicians can become highly paid network commentators or earn big bucks by lobbying, writing commentaries. books, giving speeches or consulting in politics.

“He could continue in politics indefinitely,” said Mac Stipanovich, a respected former lobbyist and political activist. “Or he’ll go back into the private sector and do pretty well because he’s a former governor of Florida.”

DeSantis first bought the house in Ponte Vedra Beach in 2009 for $ 307,500 and took out a mortgage for $ 314,111 – a year before marrying his wife, Casey, and several years before getting involved in politics. Most recently, he’s been praising him since at least 2017, when DeSantis was in Congress in Washington, records show.

The governor, who now earns $ 134,181 a year, said through his press secretary Christina Pushaw that the family had sold the house to avoid maintaining a separate residence outside the governor’s mansion. At the time, he owed at least $ 263,000 on the mortgage. As a member of Congress, DeSantis earned $ 174,000 per year.

The governor’s financial records showed he had earned up to $ 5,500 the previous year by occasionally renting the house, but its rising value meant that property taxes alone would have exceeded $ 5,000 a year, leaving almost no more rental money to pay off the principal and interest on the loan.

Adding to the pain caused by the sale, DeSantis initially put the home up for sale for $ 485,000, but ended up accepting $ 25,000 less than the asking price two months later, according to records. The pandemic hit the United States less than a year later and the home’s value has skyrocketed.

The three-bedroom, one-story home with a large palm tree to the front and a swimming pool to the rear sits among well-maintained upper-middle-class suburban homes littered with holiday decorations in a golf community in waterfront south of downtown Jacksonville and north of St. Augustine.

The new owners are retirees Ellen and Jim Healey. Healey worked as a mortgage banker while his wife worked for the Department of Defense. They briefly rented the house until they moved there permanently from Georgia in 2020.

The couple – she’s a Democrat, he’s a Republican – said they spent about $ 85,000 renovating bathrooms, paving a back patio and renovating the pool. Neither see themselves as boosters for DeSantis, claiming they disagreed with the governor’s pandemic policies.

“We are not against him, but we are not for him,” said Ms Healey, 58.

The couple never met DeSantis when the property was sold and said they didn’t know who owned the house until a family member told them about it.

A local real estate agent, TJ Jarosik of Ormond Beach, said market prices have risen during the pandemic in a way no one expected, but have started to stabilize. The homes generated multiple offers, above asking price, on the first day they were listed.

“Interest rates are historically low, and with everything shutting down since the onset of COVID-19, I think a lot of people and businesses have realized they don’t have to be in the office every day. Said Jarosik.

Pushaw attributed DeSantis’ policies to the strength of Florida’s economy, including house prices.

“Governor DeSantis is aware that home values ​​have increased across Florida,” she said. She added that her decisions as governor “have strengthened our state’s economy despite the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The house near Jacksonville was not the only house that once belonged to the governor. DeSantis left Ponte Vedra Beach in 2016 as the boundaries of Congress shifted, placing his former home in Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

DeSantis and his wife bought a three-bedroom Palm Coast home for $ 242,000 in October 2016, just before he was last elected to the United States House in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, according to real estate records for Flagler County, along Florida’s east coast.

This means that for nearly two years, from late 2016 until mid-2018, the DeSantis family, with two young children, simultaneously took out two mortgages on two modest homes in Florida while she was then Rep. DeSantis juggled life in Washington. He slept on a couch in his office in the US Capitol, showered in House’s gym.

The family sold this home in May 2018 – during their campaign to become governor – for $ 275,000 after trying unsuccessfully for six months to sell it for up to $ 324,900, records show. The buyer was Marc Rhoades, a former Kansas Republican lawmaker and White House official under the Reagan administration, who still owns the house. Its value is now estimated at around $ 425,000.


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About Teresa G. Wilson

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