Gulf Coast Housing Market Shows Improvement

GULFPORT, MS (AP) — A better economy in 2014 has resulted in an increase in home sales, job gains and people moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast area.

         "I think it's growing at a slow, secure appreciation rate. It's moving upward, but it's moving slow, which I think is healthy for the market," Joe Rogers, executive director of Gulf Coast Association of Realtors and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Multiple Listing Service, told The Sun Herald’s Wesley Muller.

         Rogers said the MLS reported 2,883 house sales from January through September, about a 6.7 percent increase from the same period last year. If the trend continues through the remaining quarter, the housing market will have achieved four years of steady growth, he said.

         The average residential sale price, which declined steadily from 2008 to 2011, now shows a similar trend, increasing from $118,612 in 2011 to $127,000 in 2013, according to Gulf Coast MLS statistics.

         Rogers said every three houses sold typically create about one job.

         "The real estate market is a vital thing, so if it's not growing, your economy is not growing," he said. "The market has improved. These numbers are good numbers."

         Alain Harpin, owner of Southern Way Realty, said he's getting out-of-state clients moving to the coast for job opportunities.

         "I regularly get calls from folks from as far northeast as Pennsylvania up through Indiana and as far west as California," Harpin said. "What I'm seeing post-economic meltdown is a strong demand for rental houses."

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