One if the consequences of the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita that have hit the Gulf Coast is the speculation buying that has begun. Damaged homes, lots with rubble, and houses in states of disrepair have “For Sale” signs on them as Placards announcing “We Buy Houses, Cash!,” are posted on corners throughout middle-class neighborhoods”. Speculation has become the name of the game as prices have escalated and “even damaged properties – have jumped 10 to 20 percent”.
Rubble piles bear “For Sale” signs. Homes without roofs are being sold as-is. Placards announcing “We Buy Houses, Cash!,” are posted on corners throughout middle-class neighborhoods.
The Mississippi coast, wracked by Hurricane Katrina, is caught up in a real estate rush, as speculators and those looking to replace their own wrecked homes pinpoint broken and battered waterfront neighborhoods. In the weeks since the hurricane, prices of many homes – even damaged properties – have jumped 10 to 20 percent.
But what Katrina spared, the real estate rush now imperils. The arrival of speculators threatens what’s left of bungalow neighborhoods that are among the Gulf’s oldest communities, close-knit places of modest means where casino workers, fishermen and their families could still afford to live near the water. Many, under-insured and with few alternatives, see no choice but to sell.
Many peoples fears are that the once affordable areas, neighborhoods and coastal communities will be developed by speculators and turn the areas into more high prices ones not affordable to many.
“It’s the oldest part of Biloxi, full of old families. This was a place they could still afford to come to and settle,” said Bill Stallworth, a city council member who represents much of the area. “Now that’s being taken away.”
It doesn’t take much for a property owner in those neighborhoods to attract prospective buyers. A call to a real estate agent fetches bidders the same day. A for-sale sign in the yard is almost as good. In some neighborhoods, owners can wait for unsolicited offers from people who show up at their doorstep.
Kim Weatherly, a 50-year-old casino worker who lives in Biloxi’s Point Cadet community, is watching it all with a heavy heart. The neighborhood is potentially the city’s most valuable piece of property, sitting on a peninsula that juts into the Gulf of Mexico that’s a center for casino gambling.
Many of the tiny bungalows in the casino shadows have stood for generations. The neighborhood was snug, with the houses close to each other and to the streets. Many had views of the coastal skies from their front steps and the waterfront was just a short walk away.
“People with young kids, they’re going to get out of town and let their kids grow up somewhere,” said Weatherly, who helps run a neighborhood food bank between shifts cleaning up casino wreckage. “Old folks, they’re going to retire, forget about rebuilding. That’s it. I’m retiring. Give me my money.”