With the relocation of so many people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the infusion of Federal and Insurance money, the real estate market has been busy throughout the southeast. Many of those who have fled the Gulf Coast are not planning on returning, and are renting and buying new homes at a record pace.
The exodus of Hurricane Katrina evacuees seeking homes and places to run their businesses is rocking already-hot real estate markets throughout the Southeast.
From Pensacola, Fla., to Houston, legions of people and companies that fled the disaster are snapping up houses, apartment rentals and office and warehouse space as soon as they discover it. Real estate investors also are buying homes and renting them out.
The surge of buyers and renters — plus some bidding wars — are driving up sales and rental prices 10% to 50% in residential and commercial markets, say dozens of shell-shocked real estate agents and economic development officials across the Gulf Coast region.
“There has been huge demand everywhere,” says Al Mansell, president of the National Association of Realtors. “These people all need short- and long-term housing.”
and now for some irony, the New Orleans real estate market is also on fire.
At the same time, hundreds of companies — finding power restored and little damage in much of greater New Orleans — are buying and renting houses and apartments there for thousands of employees, according to Arthur Sterbcow, president of the Latter & Blum real estate firm.
In Mobile, Ala., rents on old two-bedroom homes have rocketed from $700 a month to more than $1,000.
Real estate agents in Baton Rouge and Pensacola are leasing and selling low-end properties that sat on the market for years.
In cities near the disaster, what’s left of “Class A” commercial space is leasing at a premium.
Soon, there might not be much left.
“People are begging for space,” says Burton Clark of Cummings & Associates, a commercial and residential real estate agent in Mobile. “Tenants had choices two weeks ago. They don’t today.”