Interested in a good deal on a condo?

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By David Elliott – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Prior to Hurricane Katrina and before the housing market took a mighty fall, high rise condo towers were starting to appear on the coast. But market conditions took a toll on the sale of luxury units and prices are now well below what anyone would have imagined five years ago.

The luxury condo towers were being built when South Mississippi's economy was booming and the housing market was soaring.

"The growth of the coast was strong and accelerating, so the expectations were very high," said Real Estate Broker Ray Gonzales. "They were originally selling them from $250,000 to $1.2 million and people were buying."

Then came Katrina and the bubble burst on housing values. The high end condo towers, purchased primarily by investors hoping to cash in on a meteoric trend in the price of upscale units, began to see a dramatic decrease in pricing.

"One that had originally sold for $371,000 just had a short sale of $175,000," Gonzales said.

The numbers don't lie. Gonzales tracks trends and prepares reports on pricing and sales. Gonzales said bargain hunters with available money appear to be sweeping in and seizing luxury condo units.

"The average price is down 33.7 percent. The number of condos sold is up 111 percent. What you have is investors taking advantage of low prices, foreclosure and short sales."

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