Residential Real Estate booming local developers say

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Development demands the horse first, then the cart.

Commercial growth is spurred only by residential growth, and residential growth needs a trigger of its own. Call it Katrina.

The housing market in Natchez right now is something long-time developers say they&8217;ve not seen in years.

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&8220;I&8217;d say it&8217;s the best it&8217;s ever been,&8221; Real Estate developer Vidal Davis said. &8220;No question about it.&8221;

Prices and production went up a little after Hurricane Katrina hit and drove people to Natchez, he said, but it took about five months to see the real effect.

&8220;We&8217;ve been sitting kind of stagnant for the last 20 years,&8221; he said. &8220;(Katrina) turned us upside-down. I don&8217;t see any way for it not to continue to be good.&8221;

Additions in Beau Pr/ Subdivision, new patio homes on Duncan Avenue, condos on Canal Street and the bluff are just the big things, developers say. The things that fall in between are making a difference too.

&8220;We&8217;ve been working on about 33 houses on the north of town over the last several months,&8221; developer Larry Brown said. &8220;We&8217;ve sold about half.&8221;

Brown&8217;s company bought what used to be old cotton mill worker&8217;s houses that date back to the 1800s for the renovations. Many of the house are located on North Wall Street.

&8220;Some of the houses we&8217;ve put on the market, as quickly as we can put them up for sale, they are scooped up,&8221; he said. &8220;People are looking for affordable housing in downtown Natchez.&8221;

Natchez has also seen a change in the way its real estate market works, said Glenn Green of Paul Green and Associates.

&8220;It used to be Natchez people selling to Natchez people,&8221; Green said.

But over the last year or so a considerable number of people have moved into Natchez and bought new houses, he said.

The town began to see more home growth when the price of existing homes went up after the influx of hurricane residents. As existing houses on the market became more rare, their prices went up. Soon, it was nearly as cheap to build a new house as to buy an existing one, he said.

&8220;This has happened without jobs from Rentech and other companies,&8221; he said. &8220;If half the stuff comes to Natchez that is supposed to, it will ramp the market up even more.&8221;

Sue Stedman, joint owner of Prudential Steadman and Associates Realtors, said she has been actively involved in the business for 20 years, and development in Natchez is definitely booming.

&8220;The residential market has just been phenomenal,&8221; Stedman said.

The reason for the surge in housing is mostly second home buyers, some of whom are looking for houses to stay in if a hurricane forces them out of their primary home, she said.

&8220;Some are permanent, but it&8217;s put a lot of pressure on our residential market,&8221; Stedman said.