Industry News

Insurance remains huge barrier to New Orleans rebuild

Commercial rates turn many away

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NEW ORLEANS -- The biggest barrier to growth in New Orleans after the city was nearly destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 is commercial insurance, according to local real estate brokers. Rates are so high that many companies will have a tough time rebuilding and opening once again. "Residential rates are a factor for sure, but if commercial rates aren't reasonable, there aren't jobs for all those people, and if you don't have jobs you don't have a neighborhood," said Arthur Sterbcow, president of Latter & Blum Realtors in Louisiana. Sterbcow's company had 28 offices before Katrina hit in August 2005 and the next day it had four, he said. But things are looking up for the real estate market, he said. Sales in nearby Baton Rouge and in surrounding parishes are booming. "They are growing at levels they weren't expected to reach until 10-20 years from now." Though many former New Orleans residents will not return -- mostly the elderly and poor -- Sterbcow says that many h...