- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Home sales in 2014 in south Mississippi were the best in seven years.

And Deborah McGhee, the new president of the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors, said the average price rose 5 percent between 2013 and 2014 - or $6,400 - to $134,000.

McGhee told The Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1BP5RrG ) although $134,000 is far from a record high yearly average selling price in South Mississippi, it’s back above pre-Hurricane Katrina numbers and the recession.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Multiple Listing Service reports show 2007 was a record year for real estate prices at $166,500. Prices plunged by an average of nearly $20,000 in 2008, and hit bottom in 2011 at $118,600. The average price has risen every year since.

McGhee said the numbers for 2014 show the Gulf Coast is making a strong turnaround.

A key reason prices are rising is foreclosures in South Mississippi have fallen to their lowest point since the recession, she said.

Fewer foreclosures typically raises the comparable prices of homes in a neighborhood, and McGhee said that is happening and appraisal prices are up.

The drop in foreclosures also limited new listings in South Mississippi last year to 4,190 - the lowest since 1992.

McGhee said the trend is already reversing for 2015. In the first 20 days, 415 homes have been listed, compared with only 29 for the first three weeks of 2014.

For anyone contemplating selling their home, “now is the time,” she said. “The factors are there to say prices are rising.”

Yet buyers haven’t missed their opportunity to get a great deal, she said.

“Now will also be a good time to buy a house. Interest rates remain low,” she said.

The Federal Housing Administration has reduced its annual insurance premiums on the loan balance to 0.85 percent from 1.35 percent. That equates to an annual savings of $800 for many homeowners, she said.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com


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