follow a sharp dip in home values with swift corrections, observed First American Fi- nancial Corporation chief economist Mark Fleming in a post on the title insurance company’s Economic Center Blog. Fleming noted that Katrina reduced housing stock in Orleans Parish by half. “It wasn’t until 2009 that the housing stock materially rebound- ed and, as a result of migration away, New Orleans is a smaller city today,” he wrote. The reduction in housing stock did cause a significant increase in home price appreciation in the year following the hurricane, but those gains were largely lost in 2007. Values continued to fall until mid-2012, when they began climb- ing once more. In the interim, the city’s tourist and convention industry, sports teams and events, and vibrant cultural scene returned, evolved, and expanded. special, and you will likely get an earful of local lore, legend, and culture. The city’s rich history plays a large role in the success (and failure) of real estate investments. Prices may vary dramati- cally in the space of a single neighbor- hood, and local insight is a necessity. For example, in the French Quarter, the most expensive neighborhood in the metro area, prices range from $207 per square foot to more than $1,300 per square foot, for an average listing price of $521 per square foot. Ron Mazier, executive director of the Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Em- powerment Network Association and a licensed Louisiana broker at Mazier Realty, emphasized the importance of constantly tracking trends in the New Orleans area. “I’m constantly tracking pricing data not just to keep an eye on trends, but to help locate trouble spots,” he said. When Mazier refers to “trouble spots,” he does not always mean trouble for investors. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” he observed. “Sometimes WHAT MAKES NOLA SPECIAL Ask any local what makes this city


N ew Orleans’ metropolitan statistical area (MSA) encompasses eight parishes and 73 neighborhoods, according to the City Planning Commis- sion’s official map of the area. It is important for real estate investors to realize that many of these neighborhoods are bureaucratic inventions, however, designed to make population measurements easier for Census officials or to better distribute community block grants as far back as the Lyndon Johnson presidential administration. New Orleans, itself, is also divided by wards, which are subdivided into precincts and were originally used to govern voting and elections. The city has not had officials elected to represent wards since 1812, but it is still common for residents of the city, particularly natives, to identify themselves or other areas of the city by ward number. The terms Eastbank, Westbank, Northshore, and River Parishes are also of- ten used to describe different areas of the city. These terms are somewhat flex- ible, but Eastbank usually refers to the metro area south of Lake Pontchartrain and east of the Mississippi River, while Westbank refers to the areas of the city south of the lake and on the western bank of the river. This can be confusing since the curves of the river create a situation wherein Eastbank might also be seen as being north of the river while Westbank is south of it. Northshore, or North Shore, refers to the areas north of Lake Pontchartrain. Technically, much of Northshore lies outside the New Orleans MSA but is closely tied economically to the community. The River Parishes are the parishes along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

18th century, sold to the United States in the early 19th century, and was home to the country’s largest slave market until the end of the Civil War. The result of such massive, forced immigration and a bustling local economy led to the formation of a unique- ly blended, extremely wealthy but largely unbalanced economy that deteriorated in the late 19th century after slavery was abolished. By the start of the 20th century, the city’s population was in decline. By the end of that century, the local economy was largely dependent on tourism and suffered a massive blow in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina battered the city and the Federal levee system failed. Although most residents had evacuated by the time Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city, roughly 1,500 people died in the wake of the storm. Tens of thousands of residents left the area completely while clean-up was underway. Many did not return. It was not until 2010 that U.S. Census Data indicated non-flooded neighborhoods had returned to their pre-Katrina populations. More recent numbers indicate that the metro popula- tion as a whole is still significantly lower than it was prior to the disaster. Traditionally, housing markets hit with “supply shocks” like natural disasters often


New Orleans was founded as a trading camp on the east bank of the Mississippi River in 1718 and later organized into a rectangular, fortified community that exists today as the city's French Quarter.

CANAL STREET was once the widest street in the world. It was named for a canal that was planned but never actually built.

New Orleans is home to America's first OPERA HOUSE .

In 1813, the Louisiana governor WILLIAM CLAIBORNE offered a $500 REWARD for the capture of pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated a warehouse in New Orleans that dealt in smuggled goods. Lafitte immediately offered $1,500 for the capture of Claiborne.

The official colors of Mardi Gras were selected in 1872 to honor Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, who was visiting the city. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

New Orleans has MORE MILES OF CANALS than Venice, Italy.

the areas that are about the change are the ones with the most potential for in- vestors, especially turnkey investors with local contacts in this market.” •

The city’s ST. LOUIS CATHEDRAL is the oldest continually operating cathedral in the United States.

Carole VanSickle Ellis is the editor of Think Realty Magazine. She can be reached at

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