Oil spill is hurting coast real estate market - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil spill is hurting coast real estate market


By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's a familiar sight on the coast. For sale signs in front of homes. But a troubling trend may be development that could mean those signs stay up longer. Some realtors feel the oil spill in the Gulf is leaving the wrong impression with potential home buyers. 

Jim Atchinson sells homes for a living, and making that living is getting tougher.

"Now what we're finding is that when you talk to these buyers, their fears are further economic decline in this area," Atchinson said. 

With oil still gushing into the Gulf, Atchinson said people are being cautious when it comes to buying a home. 

"We're starting to see people that were planning on moving here have decided not to move or maybe they're moving here but renting a place as opposed to buying."  

With the Gulf oil spill, it's hard to tell sometimes just how many people have lost how money to the penny. But is some cases, you can do exactly that. Susan Tolar is a realtor also feeling the pinch in her pocketbook.

"That week I was to get half of the commission which would have been $6,000 I was going to get that week, and I didn't get a paycheck. That's what happened," Tolar said. 

There was supposed to be a $400,000 home that was going to be built on vacant property in an upscale Ocean Springs neighborhood, but according to Tolar, something got in the way and killed the deal. 

"We were ready to go, and all of a sudden they called back and said, 'You know what? We just don't want to invest that much money right now in the coast because of the oil spill. We don't know what life is going to be like,'" Tolar said.

Just like the spill, the uncertainty continues to grow, according to Atchinson.

"Some of the folks that we've been working with as buyers for months have just said let's put everything on hold and see what happens," Atchinson said. 

That's the kind of attitude that has realtors worried about their own financial futures.   

In addition to the oil spill, both realtors say the industry is still struggling to recover from high insurance rates on the coast, and the impact of the national and statewide recessions.

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