South Mississippi Feels Housing Slump

For sale signs are becoming a familiar sight in Coast neighborhoods. Currently 478 homes are up for sale in Ocean Springs.

"I've never had the inventory that I have right now," said Kay Lynn Beemon, a Re-Max Realtor. "We have to look for customers now, where before they would walk in, needing a place to live."

Kay Lynn Beemon has been a realtor for 12 years. She blames the state's insurance crisis for the coast-wide housing slump.

Beemon would like to see lawmakers get more involved when it comes to the insurance industry.

"I really think they need to step in a little bit more. People just can't afford it. You have to have it," Beemon said.

She also believes getting money to buy homes is a lot harder than it was right after the storm.

"The mortgages are different now. Used to, anyone could get a mortgage. We had a lot of 80-20s, so if you didn't have any money to put down, you could get a mortgage for the whole thing. We've had more repos than we've ever had, and in that way, the market's changing also," Beemon said.

The housing slump isn't limited to Mississippi's coastal counties. Sales of existing homes fell 4.3% percent nationwide in August, and there was a 13 percent drop from the pace of sales in August 2006.

Beemon believes the south Mississippi housing market will stabilize in the future, but for now, she says, it's a buyers' market, and there are some good deals out there for potential home buyers.

"Recently, I saw that three homes had been lowered $5,000 each, so we're seeing big drops in the prices, and I think that's what it's going to take for the coast to come back," Beemon said.