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RISMEDIA, November 20, 2010—When BP’s oil spill reached the shores of Alabama in early June 2010, Realtors’ losses were not deemed eligible for compensation. Thanks to the joint efforts of eight Realtors in the area who were appointed to advocate for agents and brokers, several weeks of campaigning showed that the business of Realtors was in fact physically impacted by the oil. Here, Randy McKinney, broker/owner of Realty Executives Gulf Coast Alabama discusses how the continued efforts of many different, concerned entities will help the Golf Coast bring tourists back to the region and thrive in the coming years.

Randy McKinney
Broker/Owner, Realty Executives Gulf Coast in Alabama
Chair, Alabama Task Force

Tourism is our economic engine on the Gulf Coast and our beautiful sugar white, sandy beaches are a magnet. When BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill damaged our Alabama beaches, it did tremendous harm to all industries working hard to earn a living in the economic zone surrounding this area.

BP’s oil spill on April 20 hit our Alabama shores in early June, our prime harvest season for tourism. As a result, real estate sales in various offices on Alabama’s coast plunged 50-90% during our peak season.

Our Gulf Coast region was showing signs of improvement until the spill. The effects span the scope of the industry—from agents and brokers losing compensation to real estate owners losing money on vacation rentals.

Initially, Kenneth Feinberg, head of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, did not deem Realtors’ losses to be eligible for compensation. So the Task Force, made up of eight Realtors in the area, was appointed by the Alabama Association of Realtors president, Keith Kelley, to advocate for agents and brokers.

From a legal standpoint, the initial argument against Realtors’ reimbursement was about “proximate cause”; that our business was not physically impacted by the oil. We were undeterred and continued to pursue success in helping those impacted in our industry receive adequate reimbursement.

The Task Force presented a compelling case to illustrate to Feinberg that the oil spill did in fact have a significant impact on Realtors’ income. After several weeks of campaigning from the National Association of Realtors and other states, Feinberg granted emergency funding to real estate agents and brokers in the “economic zone” of the impacted area. Realtors who received compensation did not waive any rights to pursue other legal remedies that they may have.

This emergency funding will not replace all of the losses to real estate agents and brokers, but it will go a long way to help keep our industry in business through a very difficult time because of the impact of BP’s action that resulted in the worst environmental disaster that our country has ever experienced.

Our Gulf beaches will no doubt continue to be one of the world’s prime vacation destinations. With the continued efforts of many different, concerned entities, we are looking forward to what we expect will be an exciting recovery in 2011.