Real estate market rebounds in Pearl River County

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pearl River County realtor Bruce Kammer works at his office in Picayune where he has seen a recent influx of retired and first-time homebuyers move to the county.  Photo by Julia Arenstam

Pearl River County realtor Bruce Kammer works at his office in Picayune where he has seen a recent influx of retired and first-time homebuyers move to the county.
Photo by Julia Arenstam


Just before schools go back in session, local realtors are wrapping up one of their busiest seasons.
Eleven years after Hurricane Katrina and about eight years since the national housing crisis, the Pearl River County housing market is seeing some stability.
Inventory has become relatively low again but the market is stable, said Bruce Kammer, a local real estate agent with Coldwell Banker.
According to a market report from the Pearl River County Board of Realtors, there were 490 homes sold between January 1 and December 31, 2015. From January 1 to July 22, 2016, there have been 279 homes sold.
That means there were 960 commissions made last year, said Kammer, with every sale contributing about $50,000 to the local economy.
“I’m the busiest I’ve been since Katrina,” said real estate agent Martha Ford.
Before Hurricane Katrina, the housing market in the county was rising at a steady three to four percent every year, said Kammer.
In 2005 and 2006 the real estate market boomed as people quickly moved to the area.
“We almost doubled in population, it seemed like overnight,” said Ford. “We could close on loans as long as we had a roof, a blue roof.”
As a result, the inventory of available homes was down and new construction projects began, said Kammer.
Then when the national housing market began to suffer in 2008, combined with the amount of new homes and transplants returning to their hometowns in Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the local market took a dip, said Kammer.
Kammer said prices in 2008 were about a third of what they were in 2005 during the boom.
The county’s housing market was in a lull, said Ford, and it is just starting to creep back up.
This lull lasted until about 2012 or 2013, said Kammer, when the market slowly began to rise to where it was before Katrina.
The niche market in the county is in homes sold between $100,000 and $180,000. Homes with values under that range are generally purchased by investors looking to renovate and sell them for a profit, said Kammer.
A lot of homebuyers Kammer sees are retirees or new families buying their first home.
With the climate and the economy offered here, retired couples often move to the area Kammer called a “retirement city.”
Kammer said the community could benefit from building a senior mobile home park, where the land would be owned and maintained by a private company, and residents would own the mobile homes.
In the last few years, new construction has just started to pick back up, said Ford.
“This is good for everybody,” Ford said.
Young couples and first-time homebuyers are generally from the area, said Ford, with older clients moving from out of state.
Ford said she has seen expansion in the realm of commercial real estate more in the north side of Picayune where commercial properties have a much higher price per square foot than other areas of town.
Values are starting to go up, said Kammer, who’s hoping to see a four to five percent increase per year in the near future.
“The surrounding markets in Slidell and along the Gulf Coast are also doing well,” said Kammer.
Ford said she is thankful the market has stabilized and that prices are starting to increase.
With the increase in tax assessments of about nine percent countywide, Kammer said he expects home prices to increase by the same amount.
The potential increase in property taxes could change the price range for homebuyers, said Ford.

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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