Thursday, February 02, 2006

'Uncertainty' Hangs Over Coastal Mississippi

After the bizarre speculative rush following the hurricanes, the gulf coast is getting back to reality. "For many property owners on the Mississippi Coast, these are desperate times. There are mortgages to pay; insurance issues are still unresolved; what building will be permitted and when is still up in the air. For some, selling seems the only alternative."

"It's not unusual to see signs along roadsides advertising companies offering to buy a house 'as is.' In some cases that could mean a slab."

"South Mississippi five months ago was slammed by Hurricane Katrina, and it threw the real estate market into uncertainty. Realtor Carlene Alfonso said that right after the hurricane there was the initial shock of seeing everything close to the water gone. 'Everybody's initial reaction was, I'm never going back again,' she said."

"Dan Triplett, president of Gulf Coast Home Buyers said they are doing more business now than before the hurricane, said 90 percent are people leaving the area. 'We started seeing that right after the storm,' said Triplett."

"Complicating today's real estate market is the uncertainty caused by the FEMA flood advisory maps. The maps increase recommended heights across the board. And although the governor's recovery office has recommended all cities and counties adopt the new maps, some have balked. Rebuilding is proceeding in some areas, on hold in others."

"That uncertainty hasn't stopped some investors from looking at opportunities to buy properties. 'We were deluged with investors that wanted to buy waterfront property cheap,' Alfonso said. Alfonso said many of those looking at property probably won't buy until there is more certainty about what will be permitted."

"'There are some deals to be made right now. Some people don't want to rebuild. And they don't want the headaches,' said (developer) Craig Brown of C.A. Brown of Gulfport. 'But it's not as valuable as it will be in the future.'"

"And he's not just talking as a professional. Brown, a custom home builder, lost everything down to the slab. 'I think the people that can hold on to their property probably should,' said Brown, who plans to wait it out. From an investor standpoint, buying at a lower price now makes sense. 'It's still close to the beach. It's always going to be valuable,' he said, and pointed to Florida as a great example."


At 10:17 AM, Blogger Ben Jones said...

I remember visiting this area years ago. Driving from New Orleans into Mississippi, miles inland, all of a sudden the road would be surrounded by water again. Personally, I wouldn't buy anything down there 100 miles from the coast.


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