Coverage in the Gulf: How the Oil Spill Is Impacting Real Estate

By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine

When Carolyn Angelette, broker-owner of Century 21 Island Realty in Grand Isle, La., looks out her window, she sees orange fencing and markers warning islanders to keep away from the oil-ridden beaches. Her fresh ocean breeze has been replaced with the smell of a gas station. Many of the oil-drenched wildlife pictures you’re seeing in the news come from her island and the neighboring barrier islands. (See images shot by Los Angeles Times photographers from throughout the region).

Grand Isle is one of the hardest-hit communities in Louisiana, devastated by the oil hemorrhaging from the Gulf (view an interactive map of the spill). “This oil spill was the most unimaginable event I could have thought would ever happen here,” Angelette says. The oil has been washing ashore in this area for several weeks due to the April 20 explosion and subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig on lease to BP. The well has been gushing an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico per day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It is now considered the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, totaling as much as 40 million gallons of oil flooding the Gulf.

Angelette’s core clients include vacation-property renters, second-home purchasers, and some investors. “All of my tourists have canceled their vacation plans here in Grand Isle,” says Angelette. But some new renters are coming in … folks from BP, the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and media outlets need housing while they work on the island.

“The long-term effects are so mind-boggling; we will not realize what we have lost for years to come,” Angelette says.

trip mapOver the next three and a half days, I will be visiting Angelette and others in Grand Isle, Houma, La., New Orleans, and Gulfport, Miss.,  to see first-hand how the oil spill is affecting real estate and local communities. I’ll meet with REALTORS®, home owners, seafood-industry business owners, real estate lawyers, environmentalists, and even a representative from BP. Bill Boyd, Region III vice president with the Louisiana REALTORS® Association, will be hosting part of my visit.

I’m nervous about what I’ll see on this trip, but I’m honored to be covering such a significant issue on behalf of REALTOR® Magazine and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. I will be giving regular updates right here on the Speaking of Real Estate blog. A full special report will be published in the September issue of REALTOR® Magazine.

If you’re a practitioner in the Gulf Coast area and you’d like to share your comments or experiences for the September article, e-mail me, Erica Christoffer, at, and include your name, company, and city.

Erica Christoffer

Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at

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  1. In the article, “Coverage in the Gulf, How the Oil Spill is Impacting Real Estate'” it mentions that vacation renters are cancelling reservations. However, the real estate agent says, agents are renting out the same places to BP employees, the National Guard, the Coast Guard and the media outlets needing housing.

    It has been rumored that Beach properties, camps and vacation rentals are renting for hugh amounts, as much as, $20,000- $30,000 per month.

    Is there any creditability or truth to this rumor?