Hancock Co. realtors optimistic about summer sales

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Realtors in Hancock County say their market seems to be bucking the national trend. Last month, home sales across the country fell sharply, dipping to a seven month low. That's according to the National Association of Realtors.

But April sales in Hancock County give those trying to sell reason to be optimistic for the summer. Since the first of the year realtors in Hancock County have sealed deals on 122 homes and lots. Most of those closings came in March and April.

"Just because it's happening nationally does not mean it has to happen here," said Stephanie McConnell, Office Manager of Latter & Blum Realty. "March was a very good month. April was fair, not as good as March, but better than the national average, I would say. And hopefully this month will be the same."

Realtors say there seems to be a renewed interest in beachfront properties, as well. So far this year, 18 homes and lots on the beach changed hands, as compared to only ten during the same time frame last year.

"Beachfront is selling both lots and homes. Again, if the seller is very realistic with their pricing, they're selling," said Realtor Pat Robinson with O'Dwyer Realty.

McConnell attributes the spike in sales to the word finally getting out that the worst of Katrina is behind us, and recovery in Hancock County is strong.

"We're getting a grocery store, and we have a new little water park, part of Buccaneer is open. The seawall is under construction and the beach road is finally making progress. All of those things add up to encouraging news. And I'm cautiously optimistic that we're on our way up," McConnell said.

And all that's happening despite the high cost of insurance.

"We still have the problem of insurance that is very cost prohibitive in a lot of cases," Robinson said. "The interest rates have come down, activity has picked up considerably, and I still believe we are the best resort bargain in the country."

Right now the realtors say there are 564 homes up for sale in Hancock County, ranging in price from $20,000 to $360,000.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.