John Philip Mason is a residential appraiser with 20 years experience and covers the Hudson Valley region of New York. He’s a good friend and a true professional who provides unique insight to appraisal issues of the day. This week he discusses the New Orleans real estate market in his Solid Masonry post. Jonathan Miller

Is the market up or down? Well that depends on where you are. For most of us, nationally speaking, the real estate market has either gone down slightly or is giving us signals that it might be ready to go down soon. Some folks may find that hard to believe, only because the market’s been so up, for so long. But what if your market hasn’t been up? What if it’s been down? Way down! Like down by the bayou down. Maybe when you’ve been down so far, anything looks like up. Hey wait a minute, New Orleans is actually up. Way up! ABCNews.com has posted an Associated Press article by Rukmini Callimachi, New Orleans Real Estate Market Booming.

Now I’m not about to tell you all is well, because it isn’t. There is much to do and those people still need our prayers, dollars and help. Ms. Callimachi writes, “To be sure, the real estate picture is far from even: Areas like St. Bernard Parish, which took the brunt of last summer’s storm, are lying fallow. Not a single house sold in the first three months after the storm; only one sold in the fourth month, fetching just $11,000 in an area where the average home once sold for $109,000, the New Orleans Realtors Association said.” That being said, there are signs of hope. In fact, it would seem some real estate numbers coming out of the Big Easy are up, big time. Ms. Callimachi goes on to say, “For the first quarter of the year, sales of single-family homes in the greater New Orleans area zoomed to $826 million, a jump of 60 percent over the first quarter of 2005, when sales totaled $517 million, according to New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors; 3,829 residential units were sold, 960 more than the same period in 2005.”

While nobody wants to trade places with New Orleans, those are numbers any real estate professional would love to see in their respective markets. Instead many are seeing a sluggish market, at a time of year when things should be robust. In fact, I don’t know of any other market going through such a surge. I also don’t know of any other market that’s been so down. Been down so long, it looks like up to me.

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