CAPE CORAL, Fla. - The economic impact of the oil spill is starting to spread beyond the beaches of Louisiana and Alabama. Some Southwest Florida real estate agents say buyers are backing out of deals because of uncertainty about the oil.
BP has already given out nearly $2 million to people and businesses just in Florida because of losses since the spill; but such claims aren't as easy in some industries, like real estate.
"We actually had two contracts cancel today," said real estate company owner Marc Joseph.
Joseph's office has been getting the calls for more than a week from people unsure about oil who are having second thoughts about buying a Southwest Florida home.
"The person who wants to retire here, they don't want to look at black water," Joseph said. "And there is a concern on our level, we're finally getting good news about our economy, and we're finally getting to the point where the average median sales price is starting to creep up."
But making up for lost buyers isn't going to be easy. While BP is paying out claims to affected businesses, proving a link to the oil crisis is required.
"It's basically a matter of keeping very good records, and showing a contrast between before-and-after the loss," said Cape Coral attorney Robert Adamski.
Adamski says lost profits need hard numbers comparing past months or years to current losses. Photographic proof of oil's impact or people can also back it up.
"An affadavit or a deposition from some of the people who cancelled about why they cancelled, I think that would be excellent testimony," Adamski said.
Marc Joseph does not plan to make any claims with BP, saying it would be too difficult to quantify for an industry still recovering from collapsing prices and foreclosures.
"Very frustrating," Joseph said. "We've hit every obstacle imaginable down here."
BP is accepting claims for lost wages and income at http://www.bp.com/claims/. There are also other options for any business that can't get a claim from BP, or those that get denied. Tuesday, the White House approved a half-million dollars in low-interest small business loans. Claims also can be filed through the federal Oil Pollution Act via the U.S. Coast Guard's National Pollution Funds Center at http://www.uscg.mil/npfc/Claims/default.asp.