The U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that new home sales fell 14.4 % in the south due to harsh weather conditions and an increase in mortgage rates, but according to development officials and real estate agents, that number isn't affecting the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where residential development is booming.
Eric Black, a new homeowner, says, “Love the location. Love Woolmarket. Love the fact that it was a new home.” Black and his wife moved into their brand new home in Woolmarket just over a month ago. Black says he decided to buy a new home because he likes having options. Black says, "You didn’t have to deal with you know, ‘What did the previous owners do to the home?’ And the fact is, we were able to pick some amenities of it, the flooring the cabinets, things of that nature."
Realtor, Lydia Pickard, says that after Hurricane Katrina, new homes in dry areas are appealing to first time buyers. Pickard says, "I think it’s appealing to people to want a newer home because they may think it may be more energy efficient, possibly less cosmetics, things they would have to do to the home." Another draw for potential homeowners is dry areas. Black also says, “It’s not in a flood zone or anything like that. That was a major concern for me and my wife.” While new home sales are struggling around the country, the Coast is fairing much better.
Biloxi Planning and Development Director, Jerry Creel, says, "We're experiencing a revival in single family development, especially in north Biloxi, and especially in the northwestern corner of Biloxi. We have a number of subdivisions going in there." According to Creel, there are a lot of new developments that are producing jobs and drawing in newcomers. Creel also says, "Even before the baseball stadium, we had the theme park that’s going in north Biloxi. We’re working on that. The expansion of the Biloxi Boardwalk Marina. They’re getting ready to do a $220 million expansion, the Margaritaville Hotel coming in."
Officials say despite national trends, the Gulf Coast has always had its own current. New home sales and commercial development are key ingredients for a strong, local economy.