Harrison County

Here's why the Mississippi Coast could be the next Austin, website says

Sunrise on the Mississippi Coast.
Sunrise on the Mississippi Coast. Sun Herald file

Savvy homebuyers can consider Gulfport and neighboring areas a millennial-friendly, future "boom town" region where home buyers can later make "megaprofits" when they sell their homes.

Realtor.com has ranked Gulfport fourth of 10 small and midsized metropolitan areas likely to reach "boom town" status by having "good-paying jobs, world-class culture and Instagram-worthy food havens."

Homeowners in cities that reach "boom town" status can later turn a hefty profit when they sell their homes, the group's report says.

The rankings list Gulfport by name, but the data used apparently includes the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula metropolitan statistical area, and perhaps all six of Mississippi's southernmost counties instead of just the three coastal counties. The report shows Gulfport with a population of 385,448 and a median home price of $192,550. Gulfport's population is 72,076, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2016 report.

Realtor.com crunched data from the 200 largest metro areas nationwide, looking at population, income, home price, building permit growth, employment figures and cultural amenities. The report excluded the 15 largest metro areas, keeping cities such as New York City and Dallas off the list.

The report found what it called "unexpected places that are millennial-friendly with tech job growth and proximity to bigger cities where prices have gone insane."

Cities ranking higher than the Gulfport area are Salisbury, Maryland; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

"We'll see small cities continue to be growth centers," said Chris Porter, chief demographer at John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

"A lot of them are in the South — a region with great affordability, a business-friendly environment and warmer weather."

The trend rankings are called "The Next Urban Powerhouses: 10 Smaller Cities Poised to Skyrocket."

An article on the report notes that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 damaged or destroyed nearly 10,000 homes in the Gulfport area.

"But where many on the Gulf Coast saw only devastation, others regarded it as opportunity to build a better city," Porter said.

"The rebuilding added thousands of jobs. And a combination of Southern hospitality and affordable housing has fueled population growth in the Gulfport-Biloxi area."

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews