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Local housing market has more buyers than inventory

Real estate demand in Pearl River County is higher than it has been since post Hurricane Katrina as people leave urban areas to find homes in the country.

“There is a shortage of homes right now. We have more buyers than we do properties available,” said Martha Ford, owner and broker of Ford Realty.

With a lot of buyers and not many sellers, local realtors are short on inventory. Connie Maxie, owner and broker of Carver Realty, attributes the increase to low interest rates and an influx of people moving from bigger cities into rural areas.

Maxie is seeing a lot of people move into Poplarville and the county from New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and even Covington, La.

“For buyers there’s not much to choose from right now, because the supply’s very low. But for sellers, it’s the perfect time for sellers to maximize the investment that they made,” said Maxie.

Newly constructed homes are being presold before the first lumber is even brought to the construction site, and material costs are rising, said Ford.
Ford said she can’t say exactly why so many people are purchasing homes, but the first question most buyers ask is a clue: what is the Internet like?

“Their job description maybe hasn’t changed, but they’re working from home instead of having to work in an office building, so they’re like ‘Lets get out in the country.’”

In 2019, Pearl River County issued 167 permits for new residential buildings. In 2020, that jumped to 278 permits. Commercial building permits also increased, going from 28 in 2019 to 41 in 2020.

The county collected $209,742 in permit fees in 2019 for all permits, including buildings, mobile homes, plumbing, mechanical and electrical. In 2020, that jumped to $298,083.

In January 2021, Pearl River County’s Building Division issued 20 permits for new residential buildings and 195 permits total, bringing in $25,730 in permit fees. In January 2020, the county only collected $18,733 in permit fees.
Contractors have told E911 coordinator Carolyn Nelson that people who would normally rent instead of buy have opted to build homes because their rent has increased and mortgage rates are low.

Although the demand for housing is comparable to the year after Hurricane Katrina, the market is not as out of control, said Ford. Many of the people purchasing homes after Katrina lost everything and were traumatized by the disaster.

“I’ll never forget what all I saw and the stories I heard and I heard those stories every day, for over a year. So that’s the difference, this doesn’t have that. But people are definitely moving here and they’re happy to be here too.”