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Potential home buyers facing low inventory, soaring prices in parts of N.O.

NEW ORLEANS - Alex Radka began his mission of finding a home in New Orleans last spring, but months passed with no luck.

"We wanted to live Uptown. We wanted something big enough for my family," Radka said. "It seemed everything we found that was going to be big enough was either way out of our price range, or long ago, had been converted to apartments."

It's a problem many families are running into - especially in high-demand areas like Uptown, Downtown and Mid-City.

"In certain neighborhoods, people are being priced out," said Dr. Ivan Miestchovich, a real estate expert at UNO. "Relative to where we were say, probably, 12 to 18 months ago, there are a lot fewer homes that are on the market."

Take Uptown and the Garden District, for example. According to Latter & Blum research, the number of single-family homes or condos available plummeted more than 20 percent, compared to the same three-month period (July-September) last year. Meanwhile, the average purchase price last month was $401,000. That's up from $360,000 in September of 2012.

"As the fear of rising interest rates kind of played itself out in the market, people who were sitting on the sidelines finally said, ‘Okay, I'm gonna pull the trigger. I'll make my decision and I'll buy,'" Miestchovich said. "They may have already targeted one or more units to buy and that's why you've had people bidding against each other for the same units."

Miestchovich also said - simply put – New Orleans is a hot city these days, and many out-of-towners are snapping up properties.

"You've got lots of people that buy because they want to have a piece of New Orleans, so to speak, and because they spend time here," he said.

Radka moved to the city because of a job. His breakthrough finally came.

"Something did finally come up, and we really like where we are and we're excited about it, but it took a little bit of patience," he said. "(Our new house is) double the price of the house I sold in Georgia. So, it was difficult to swallow that."

While the situation is proving tough for many potential home buyers, Miestchovich said there are positives. The overall real estate market in the city points to a generally strong local economy, he said.

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