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Gulfport Foreclosures Shot Up but Metro Rate Was Still Low

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By : John Cutts    99 or more times read
Gulfport foreclosures shot up by 784 percent in 2009, but the foreclosure rate in the area was still better than the rates of 179 of the 203 largest metro areas surveyed by a California firm tracking foreclosures nationwide.

Only 0.50 percent of all households in the Gulfport-Biloxi area were in foreclosure in 2009. This meant that only 539 homes received default or foreclosure notices last year, but the number marked an increase of 784 percent from 2008 and a staggering jump of 3,071 percent from 2007.

George Schloeger, mayor of Gulfport, explained that foreclosure has been rare in the city over the years, but job losses, the decline in property values and the overbuilding that happened after Hurricane Katrina drove most of the foreclosures in 2009. There were also a lot of first time home buyers who bought houses without fully knowing all the costs involved in home ownership, Schloeger added.

Ryan La Fontaine, Gulfport public information officer, also said that Gulfport foreclosures surged when residents lost their jobs in the gaming sector. As the recession worsened last year, tourism declined and casinos in the area had to cut their losses. Gulfport, the second biggest city in Mississippi and one of the administrative centers of Harrison County, has been a gaming destination before the recession.

Mayor Schloeger added that jobs in the construction sector declined after redevelopment projects in the wake of Katrina were completed. He, however, reiterated that the 0.50-percent foreclosure rate of Gulfport is very low and is better than the situation of most metro areas tracked by foreclosure researchers.

Similarly, the pace of Mississippi foreclosures is among the lowest at 0.43 percent, despite a sharp increase in foreclosure activity in 2009. The 5,402 filings in 2009 marked a significant increase of 136 percent from 2008 and a staggering jump of 283 percent from 2007. Nevertheless, Mississippi is not as distressed as 41 other states in 2009.

Mike Boudreaux, chief executive officer of Gulf Coast Investment Developers, said that before Hurricane Katrina, his staff just waited for calls at the office and then closed condo sales quickly. After the storm, he said, sales were much harder to close. When the foreclosure crisis started and lower-priced properties appeared, new units were even harder to sell.

According to real estate company owners Carlene Alfonso and Tashia McGinn, the question of how to buy foreclosed homes in Gulfport and other areas in the Mississippi Gulf Coast is not a big problem because there are plenty of affordable Gulfport foreclosures available.
John Cutts has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.

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