Real estate experts say it's a great time to buy a home

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Property values are extremely low right now, but for buyers that means this is a great time to make a deal. That was just one of the topics discussed at Tuesday's 43rd annual Hancock Bank Gulf Coast Economic Symposium in Biloxi.

A real estate professor from the University of South Alabama offered coast leaders some positive news. Dr. Donald Epley said the real estate market is a buyer's heaven.

"If you have a good job, good credit and good income, you should definitely buy. Prices are good, interest rates are low. If you qualify for a loan at the bank, this is the best time in your lifetime that you'll ever see to buy a home," said Dr. Donald Epley.

Epley said the good news extends to commercial property. Since the oil spill, he said people assume market values are low, but sales equal value.

"The way we determine value is if the buyer comes in makes an offer and buys the property. So you actually have to have a closed sale and that really hasn't happened yet driven by the oil spill."

According to Remax by the Gulf in Biloxi, from January 1, 2010 to the date the oil spill began, 718 homes were sold. From one month after the oil spill started until now 1,027 homes have sold. Epley admits many investors are still waiting to see the full impact of the oil spill on the gulf region, and he doesn't expect to see sales and values jump much over the next three months. But he is optimistic.

"We have been told by our governor in Alabama, and probably Haley Barbour has told the coast the same thing, there may be significant amounts of money coming in this area through various channels through BP oil. That's going to provide a significant influx of new cash to develop new projects."

And the hope is those projects could bring new buyers to the market and drive up property values.

The owner and realtor of Remax by the Gulf, Al Allegue, said the majority of sales after the oil spill have been to investors. He said about half of the market consisted of foreclosures, HUD homes and short sales.

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