Glitch Shuts Down New Orleans Real Estate Data NPR's Melissa Block talks to New Orleans City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson about a computer crash that has left gaps in Orleans Parish's computerized mortgage and conveyance data for three weeks. Clarkson has been a Realtor for 40 years.

Glitch Shuts Down New Orleans Real Estate Data

Glitch Shuts Down New Orleans Real Estate Data

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131548549/131548520" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR's Melissa Block talks to New Orleans City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson about a computer crash that has left gaps in Orleans Parish's computerized mortgage and conveyance data for three weeks. Clarkson has been a Realtor for 40 years.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

The latest home sales numbers were released today and they're down. After two months of strong sales, a number of cities saw sharp declines: Minneapolis, for example, dropped 41 percent in October over the same month last year.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now, in New Orleans, housing sales have all but stopped. The big problem isn't the economy. It's a computer glitch. We're joined by New Orleans City Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson. She's also been a realtor for 40 years. Welcome to the program.

Ms. JACKIE BRECHTEL CLARKSON (New Orleans City Councilwoman): Thank you.

BLOCK: Now, what is going on in New Orleans? What's happened with the computer?

Ms. CLARKSON: Well, we've had a computer shutdown in the conveyance -mortgage and conveyance office, and it has put a stop to real estate closings.

BLOCK: This must be some kind of computer glitch. This has been going on now for about four weeks, right?

Ms. CLARKSON: Yes, it has been. It was a it was total shutdown.

BLOCK: Total shutdown, which means what? If you're a realtor, what can't you do?

Ms. CLARKSON: It means all of the mortgage and conveyance information is not accessible. You can't get mortgage balances for the lenders to pay off loans when you're selling. You can't get clear title when you're selling or buying. So you totally stop a real estate market.

BLOCK: It's just frozen.

Ms. CLARKSON: Yes. And now we've had a few transactions that have been able to be saved, but I mean, it's like as one of the leading realtors said, it's a cup of water out of an ocean.

BLOCK: One suggestion from the civil court system was to do the searches manually, go through - like in the olden days - go through page by page. That sounds pretty...

Ms. CLARKSON: Exactly. And if we have to do that, we've put together the manpower that's not only experts in the field but authorized and legally authorized to do it.

BLOCK: What do you tell people who are trying to either buy or sell a house if they are getting stymied here? What do you tell them?

Ms. CLARKSON: There's really nothing to tell them except the truth and what has happened. I mean, we literally have people that move through holidays because they plan their moves over holidays because of children in school. So we could literally have people sitting in moving vans, waiting in front of houses, and that sort of depicts it precisely.

As a realtor that worked a lot in relocation, I can tell you it's a crisis because have a tremendous amount of relocation activity in New Orleans, of which we're very proud. And we're a great real estate market. We have a better market than the national average right now, which means it's a very active market.

And so we're scared to death until we get all of this fixed. We're bringing in all the help we can find. This is millions and millions of dollars to buyers and sellers, and it's and to realtors and title companies and mortgage companies, it's billions of dollars in transactions. So it's taught us all a lesson that we better check out all our backup systems. This is under the courts; this is not under the city.

BLOCK: You know, Councilwoman Clarkson, when you think about the battering that New Orleans took in Katrina and the rebound that was going on and now this, do you stop and think, you know, our city just can't catch a break?

Ms. CLARKSON: Well, think about it all, and it tells you a story about New Orleans. This is the lemonade part of the lemons. Think of Katrina, you know, the greatest disaster in the history of the country. Think of the BP oil spill, the greatest environmental disaster in the history of the United States and now a complete market shutdown in a very active real estate market at a very tenuous time of year.

And we'll recover, and we'll recover like champions. It tells you something. I mean, we are a city of resilience and resolve, and we're a city that keeps going forward. We don't lose our momentum. And you see what they immediately what we did. We brought all resources together to the table to say let's go forward. How do we do it? We don't stop.

BLOCK: Councilwoman Clarkson, thanks so much for talking to us.

Ms. CLARKSON: Thank you.

BLOCK: That's New Orleans City Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson. She's also been a realtor there for 40 years.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.