High Insurance Costs Hurting Coast Real Estate Market

The signs are everywhere.

"It's a great time to buy," says Stephanie Shaw, owner of Latter and Blum Shaw Properties. "There's a great selection. You can find just about anything you would be looking for."

The bad news, says Shaw, is that inventory is up because sales are down.

"This year we have seen the reduction in sales transactions by about 25 percent."

And she says the number one cause is sky rocketing insurance rates.

"Something has to be done."

Shaw says homeowners who might normally upgrade, are staying put. And that means the most affordable homes aren't available for first time home buyers.

"That's what gets the market jump started and we don't have it."

She's seen the disappointment first hand.

"They're just elated and then they start calling for insurance and, you know, it can be a definite downer for them."

While the market usually corrects itself, Shaw believes this time the only solution will come from legislation.

"I think the idea that Gene Taylor has with the universal catastrophic policy. It's one of the great things about being a realtor. We have the group and we have the numbers and we have the power to get up there and get things done for the community."

Shaw says it's likely only that kind of initiative can bring about a return to the good old days when homes were plentiful, and so were buyers.

"In 2005, before the storm, it was very consistent. Life was great here in real estate."

Most realtors define affordable housing as costing no more than 30 percent of your income. Shaw says most people who upgrade to a larger or more expensive home do so within two to three years of their last purchase.