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The real estate impact of Gulf oil disaster

Massive leak could muck up housing markets for years

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Beyond the actual disruption to sales and hit on housing values in areas affected by the Gulf oil spill, real estate professionals on the Gulf Coast say they will likely face a battle of perception for years to come. Years after Hurricane Katrina slammed the coast in 2005, real estate agents and brokers in the area struggled to break free from the deeply ingrained images of flood-ravaged homes in the aftermath of that disaster. "In three to five years, there are (still) going to be people thinking that New Orleans is awash in oil. We have (members) in a panic that this (spill) has to be addressed," said Sterling Joe Ory, president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors. "We're up to our ears in problems. Short sales, lots of (bank-owned properties). This just doesn't help," Ory said. On April 20, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caught fire, exploded, and subsequently sank about 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The blast killed 11 worker...