While the fallout of the sub-prime market and the slowdown in housing starts has been difficult for most of the United States, one area that is really feeling the crunch is the gulf coast of Mississippi.
An area rocked by Hurricane Katrina is now faced with a new growing crisis. Consider these facts;
- Mississippi was a 35% rental state prior to Katrina
- hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced (most want to return home)
- Insurance payouts have been slow and/or nonexistent
- many landlords chose not to rebuild rather choosing to accept the settlement check
- government programs designed to kickstart rental housing have been mired in bureaucracy
- many developers have come in from other areas with greed intentions rather than focussing on the mission at hand
- rental housing is more necessary than ever due to the fact that the storm devastated peoples credit as well as their homes
- with the tens of thousands of people still living in FEMA trailers, now come new information that the trailers are making people sick
- the Mississippi casino industry reported record revenues and are continuing to expand, these casinos are currently housing their own employees at $250 per night.
- military bases in the area are expanding, no housing available
- shipbuilding, NASA, Rolls Royce jet engines are all industries poised to grow in the area
This points out some of the reasons for the growth, but what of the demand? We talked to local property management professionals like Kathy Ellis and asked how quickly properties were being picked up, "we receive between 20-30 calls per day for housing". Ellis has some 250 units currently rented, but says that there is currently a waiting list of 25 people per unit. Another property manager Amanda Gallas says, "we are currently working with FEMA to relocate everyone from there trailers by the end of the year."
In conclusion, it's easy to see why this would be such a tremendous area of opportunity for an investor. Combine the benefits of a strong market, add the "GO Zone" tax strategy, and then build the best value product, you have a good reason to investigate further.