An update on my experience at the Gulf Coast

I just returned from a visit to the Gulf Coast. I have had the opportunity to serve as president of the Alabama Auctioneers Association, and we hold our annual convention in Orange Beach, Ala., every June. This past weekend marked the end of my term as president.

This conference was a great opportunity to speak with auctioneers that sell real estate in Alabama and throughout the Southeast. We all agreed that the market is tough and that the oil spill will further extend the current depressed prices along the Gulf Coast. After my earlier post on the effects of the oil spill on Gulf Coast real estate values, I want to share my assessment of the current situation now that I’ve had the opportunity to spend time there.

Last Wednesday, June 2, was the day the media reported that the oil had hit Alabama beaches. My family has vacationed on these beaches since I was a child, I’ve taken my kids to these beaches regularly throughout their childhoods and our company has been very active selling real estate along the Gulf Coast for many years. So you can understand why, when we arrived at Gulf Shores on June 4, we were anxious and saddened by the situation.

It didn’t take long to notice the light traffic, even though it was the first week in June when the beaches are normally at their peak. And we walked into all of our favorite restaurants without a wait.

We woke to a beautiful day on Saturday and the beaches showcased their normal beauty. My wife Cindy only saw one oil ball. Still, there was a notice in the elevator at our condominium recommending that children not be allowed in the Gulf due to the potential oil.

It seems to me that others, like me, expected the worst. We see the pictures of the extensive oil contamination on the beaches of Grand Isle, La., and expect this to be the case everywhere. As a result, we had convention attendees cancel their reservations, and I’ve heard several friends, who would normally be at the beach at this time, decide not to go this year.

The media has created a bigger problem than what currently exists — at the cost of everyone who earns a living on the coast. The water parks were empty, the condo and motel rentals were off substantially and no one is in restaurants.

While the oil may well still arrive on the Alabama and Florida beaches, it is not bad right now. To those in the tourism industry, I hope they can hang on. If they don’t, more retail and office vacancies will occur and the hospitality and condo markets will further suffer.

Capturing all the leaking oil is the first step, then the clean up can begin in earnest. I hope and pray we get there sooner rather than later.

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~ by Craig King on June 10, 2010.

One Response to “An update on my experience at the Gulf Coast”

  1. Great observation Craig! Hurry back down, we will be looking forward to having you.

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