Posted May 10, 2006 – Electricity is still out in many places. Roads are still littered with debris. And basic services in many places are still non-existent. And yet, experts report there’s a housing boom afoot in New Orleans.
Sales of single-family homes in greater New Orleans for the first quarter of the year jumped by 60 percent over the same period last year, according to the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors.
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Sales totaled $826 million for the first quarter, which was $309 million more than for the first quarter of 2005, the realtors reported.
The experts say the sales boost is a natural reaction to a natural disaster. It's a pattern real estate professionals witnessed in Florida after Hurricane Andrew and in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake.
“You hate to say it, but these disasters tend to spark an energy that people have to respond to,” Thomas Stevens, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Realtors, told The Associated Press.
“Immediately after, what you see is this sense of, ‘Oh my God, it's a disaster. What do we do?' And then people's lives get back to normal and they say, ‘OK, I have a home. Do I repair it? Or do I sell it and buy another?'”
Trying to stay close to home, many who fled Katrina’s wrath last August fed to nearby communities such as Baton Rouge, where evacuees pushed up residential sales 48 per cent to $1.2-billion in 2005, a $412,000 boost over the previous year, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.
But now the push is to return home, which is not an easy task considering the obstacles: spotty utility and public services. Further complicating matters is the challenge that the major insurers have all but stopped writing new residential policies in New Orleans.
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