Realtors say housing market improving

South Mississippi home sales are picking up thanks to a slowly moving job market and low mortgage rates.
South Mississippi home sales are picking up thanks to a slowly moving job market and low mortgage rates.

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A new report from the "National Association of Realtors" says home sales and prices were both up in the month of August.

But what about the housing market here in South Mississippi?

WLOX News talked with some local realtors about current home sales and trends.

The national report says existing home sales increased nearly eight percent in August and the median price of a home was higher for the sixth straight month.

South Mississippi's housing market is also on the rebound.

"Certainly seeing a lot more buyers coming into the market and certainly a pick up. I think a lot of the foreclosures and housing on the lower end is starting to get sold pretty quickly, so that inventory is driving up and as a result, we're definitely seeing an increase in prices," said Anthony Pace, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty.

Low mortgage rates are also helping attract more first time home buyers, many of whom had been forced to rent.

"We have a lot of people who got into the rental market when the economy crashed and those people are starting to notice the rates are so low, you can most often be buying a home for cheaper than you're renting. So, we're seeing a lot of those renters decide to come out of the rental market and into buying a home," said realtor Amanda Hendry.

A slowly improving job market is also helping drive home sales.

"I know over at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, you have some new people coming in and that's helping to get some people buying homes in the area," said Pace.

One issue that's been a big factor in the housing market since Katrina is the high cost of insurance. And even seven years after the storm, that cost of insurance remains a primary concern for many home buyers.

"The insurance rates seem to be doing a little better, but overall, if you're in that flood zone, it's going to be expensive," said Hendry.

Overall, realtors we talked with are upbeat about the immediate future.

"New buyers are coming in. Sellers are starting to sell. Things are changing and definitely looking up for the Gulf Coast," said Hendry.

The latest local statistics show the average selling price of a home in South Mississippi last month was the highest it's been in a year.

The average selling price for a home was just over $141,000 last month.

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