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Old 10-31-2005, 07:39 AM
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Lightbulb Demand for housing has pushed up prices by more than 20 percent after Katrina

SAN FRANCISCO Almost two months after Hurricane Katrina, real estate agents from the Gulf Coast say it will be months or even years before the property market recovers.

"I tried to write a contract with a builder right before I left, and the builder wouldn't quote a price," she said.

"How do you sell a house when you don't have a price?"

Home pricing and availability are big issues for both residents and real estate agents in storm-torn areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

With hundreds of thousands of houses destroyed or damaged, deciding what a house or apartment is worth is a challenge.

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"New Orleans real estate agent Shannon Sharpe straightens a for-sale sign on a building she is listing. She's handled new listings but no sales orders since Hurricane Katrina. "How long it is going to take to get some of these areas back is very difficult to say," said Lynda Butler, president of the Louisiana Association of Realtors. She met with other agents from the region over the weekend in San Francisco for the annual convention of the National Association of Realtors."
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