Sunday, March 30, 2008

Visiting New Orleans ...

We are in New Orleans for our third visit in just over five months. One of the visits was for my mother's 90th birthday. The others were just to visit family and friends, and included trying some of the new restaurants cropping up around town.

The current visit got off to a bad start. We waited over an hour to get a rental car --- the PGA golf tournament was in New Orleans this week and local car rental agencies were overwhelmed. Then, on the way to lunch, I got a speeding ticket (31 in a 20 mph zone). Things smoothed out a bit after that.

We also spent some time researching the current real estate market in New Orleans and nearby Metairie. Our commitment to Cincinnati remains, but we feel that we should continue to monitor the recovery as it affects the areas in which we might be interested if we were to move back.

When Hurricane Katrina hit we had begun a house in the Lakeview section of New Orleans. We had finalized the plans, driven pilings and had built the forms for the slab to be poured. After the storm we lost our interest in completing the project and, in the process, lost a substantial deposit to an unscrupulous builder.

We spent one day looking at houses per sale within our preferred areas, square footage, and price range, and another looking at potential rentals with the same criteria. Rentals were a disaster --- the shortage of rental properties has allowed landlords to ask up to $2,000 a month for properties well below our standards.

Properties for sale, on the other hand, are affected by market factors and there are bargains to be had. The option of building a new house is unattractive, due to high commodity prices and a shortage of qualified labor.

Among the houses we visited was a new one in Lakeview that was particularly attractive and affordable. We visited it three times, the third with our interior designer (my sister-in-law). Across the street there is a row of derelict houses that are remindful of how much further the recovery from Hurricane Katrina has to go.

We could not bring ourselves to make an offer on the house, deciding that we prefer to stay in Cincinnati. The choice was not arrived at easily.


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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